Power to the Profession (Rhian Allvin)

Season #1 Episode #14

What can we do to empower those working in early childhood to ensure all children get a quality education?

Our guest today is Rhian Evans Allvin, CEO of NAEYC https://naeyc.org, the largest organization of early childhood professionals in the US. She has a new initiative to do just that.

Power to the Profession was established as a national collaboration to define the early childhood education profession (birth through age 8) across states and settings, and establish a framework for career pathways knowledge and competencies, qualifications, standards, accountability, and compensation.

Rhian Evans Allvin has been guiding the strategic direction of NAEYC and overseeing daily operations since 2013. Before joining NAEYC, Allvin was a guiding force in Arizona’s early childhood movement for more than 15 years, including serving as CEO of Arizona's "First Things First."

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Rhian Evans Allvin: You can only make progress in post-secondary education — to have full access to post-secondary education — if you invest in early childhood education in young children. Like the pathway that children get set on as to whether or not they’re going to make it into post-secondary education begins at birth. We just have to muster the public will to be able to do it.

John Pottenger: Welcome to the Path to Learning podcast, where three ordinary guys explore the world of education.

Jay Irwin: What’s working, what’s broken.

Scott Bultman: And what we can do to best advocate for children.

John: I’m John Pottenger.

Jay: I’m Jay Irwin.

Scott: And I’m Scott Bultman. And you’re listening to the Path to Learning.

John: Hey, guys, what’s cooking?

Scott: Hey, back for another podcast.

John: We’re in the big leagues today.

Jay: We’re going straight to the top.

Scott: Oh yeah.

John: Who we got on deck?

Scott: Well, we have Rhian Allvin, who’s the CEO of the National Association for the Education of Young Children — www.naeyc.org. That’s ‘nay-cee,’ if you want people to know that you’re down with early childhood.

Jay: If you’re ‘in the know’ —

Scott: You’re hip and cool —

Jay: — if you’re in the ECE [early childhood education].

Scott: — so, you’ll hear us say ‘nay-cee.’

John: She’s a big deal.

Scott: Well, and the organ— she’s at the head of NAEYC and NAEYC is the largest organization of early childhood educators in the world, but certainly here in the United States, they set the standards, and they provide accreditation for programs. So, we are talking to the person we need to be talking to.

Jay: Right. We’re going to dip our toes into an incredible initiative called ‘Power to the Profession,’ which is essentially a framework that they’ve been working on for three-plus years on how to change our entire education model.

Scott: Well, and what’s interesting for us and related to our project is that there was a standard, and we got off of it about 100 years ago, and the woman that created NAEYC, Patti Smith Hill, was involved in some of that. And I think she would be proud to know that we’re kind of putting the genie back in the bottle, so to speak. So it’s really exciting to see that we’re kind of at an inflection point now; I don’t know if it’s just because of the foresight that Rhian and her team at NAEYC have, or just the people are suddenly waking up now with the pandemic and realizing just how crucial to our society and our economy that early childhood really is, so … And Rhian has done all of that work with her team and got all the data together, putting together the legislative initiatives, so that really we should just let her describe what she’s been up to.

John: Let’s let her say what she’s got to say.

Scott: Alright.

Scott: Well, we really appreciate your taking the time today to talk with us.

Rhian: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Scott: We’re excited because you are at the top of the pyramid of the largest organization of early childhood educators, and we’re at a very interesting time. So we’re really happy that we can kind of pick your brain a little bit about this. Just to kind of bring the listeners up to speed, why don’t you tell us a little bit about NAEYC and what your role is and what you’re working on?

Rhian: Sure. So NAEYC is the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and we’re the professional membership association for early childhood educators. So we have about 60,000 members, they’re primarily educators working with children, birth through third grade — faculty, researchers, advocates — and we accredit early childhood programs for quality. We accredit institutions of higher education, we publish in early learning, both books and magazines in a journal. We have 52 affiliates across the country working with members and local communities. A large portion of our work and a lot of my role is in policy and advocacy. Because the success of the system of early childhood education depends largely on public support for young children to have access to early childhood education. We also do some global and international work as well.

Scott: Yeah, that’s great. So you’re kind of right in that middle period, right. You’re in this section between the membership, the teachers, the people that are there in the classroom with the children and also, all the other stakeholders; the political, governmental bodies as well?

Rhian: Absolutely. And our mission is, in part, to connect research policy and practice.

John: That sounds like important work to me.

Jay: Yeah.

Scott: Well, so I guess the first question that I think is on a lot of people’s minds is we’re in kind of a moment here, just to kind of see what the view is from, from your vantage point as to how things are going out there.

Rhian: Yeah, unfortunately … not well. We, you know — early childhood education was a fragile economic system before COVID. The supply and demand of early childhood education is hard to match up. It’s expensive to do well and is something that — if parents bear the full brunt of the cost of early childhood education — almost impossible to do well, and so the economics of early childhood education were tentative. COVID has had a dramatic impact on our field. We saw in the first week of the shutdown back in March that enrollment and most programs dropped by 70%. We’ve done a number of surveys throughout the last four months; our most recent survey we released this Monday, and … providers are hanging on by their fingernails. We know that you know, 50% of providers have been shut or shut down, 37% of failure family childcare homes were shut down. Many of them are starting to open, they’re starting to reopen now. But they’re doing it at substantially lower capacity because of the public health guidelines that are in place, rightfully in place. And so the economics of early childhood education are even more upside-down. We know that at least a fourth of the workforce, which represents hundreds of thousands of early childhood educators, are furloughed or unemployed. And so it’s a really dire situation right now. And yet — we also know from decades of economic research that early childhood education is the backbone to, you know, fueling the United States’ economy; if parents can’t work, then our economy doesn’t work. And so it is this field worth investing in, and yet we still fight that fight every day.

John: Yeah.

Jay: I’m very excited and curious to talk about how the Power to the Profession initiative is gonna address some of these issues. Would you give us a little bit of a flyover?

Rhian: Sure. So we started Power to the Profession about three and a half years ago, actually, and the — you know, the status of early childhood educators in this country is abysmal. They’re earning $10.70 an hour. They’re the lowest-paid college graduates, if they have a college degree. A lot of our field does not have any post-secondary education — there’s no incentive to quite frankly — because if you’re gonna make $10.70 an hour, get a degree and then make $11.50 an hour — it’s not worth it. The math doesn’t add up. And a lot of early childhood educators don’t have access to benefits, to health care, to dental, to retirement. And so we have 25 years of neuroscience that says that this is the most critical period of brain growth for a human being, that it sets the foundation — this period sets the foundation for all other learning. And yet we still struggle to invest. And we’ve got this workforce that is the pivotal — you know, mostly women — are pivotal adults in making this all happen, and our policy has not caught up to the science. And so, Power to the Profession was designed to overcome that, much like nurses did to organize themselves more than 50 years ago, you know, nurses have gone from being pillow-fluffers to core members of a medical team. And so in looking at other professions — and particularly other female-driven professions — we kind of took a page out of their playbook. And we spent three years with all of the national organizations that need to come to agreement on this. We laugh — we were in the basement of NAEYC for three years — and we hashed out every aspect of what a professional field of practice should look like, and how do you align it across states, across settings, across age bands … And one of the reasons it took us so long was because we were adamant that early childhood educators got to write this script. It was really important for early childhood educators to have a voice: so we would go through a decision cycle and then put it out for comment and perspective. We did close to 200 focus groups around the country during the process. We had tens of thousands of early childhood educators who weighed in through surveys and community meetings. And so we released the unifying framework in March in Washington. In fact, it was the backdrop of the Capitol, and it was the day before DC shut down, actually. And we released a unifying framework, which is a roadmap that everyone has agreed to, in how we’re going to professionalize the field of early childhood education in a clear, concise, easy to understand — a way that there’s reciprocity if early childhood educators move across states, and one in which compensation is tied to competencies and qualifications. We are now in the process of drafting model legislation that we would be introducing in states across the country, likely, probably about a year from now. And we’re excited to be at this part of the process.

Scott: Yeah. And for those people that are listening, just to let you know, if you go to naeyc.org, all this stuff is up there. It’s quite impressive just how thorough, and I can’t believe you got it done in three and a half years. But I’m just really curious. How long do you think it’s gonna take to implement? I mean, it sounds like you’re ready to bring it to Capitol Hill?

Jay: To the world!

Rhian: Well, I have good news, and I have good news and bad news on that front. I think we’re ready. We’ll be ready to roll as soon as we stabilize out of this pandemic, and as we get the model legislation drafted, and we’ve been working with governors across the country and state policymakers to identify what we’re calling ‘early-adopter states’, so we were excited for — to be moving forward on that. That said, we would rather go deep with a handful of states and get it right, than be, you know, a mile wide and an inch deep. And so … it will be a while before all 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted this — for speech pathologists, it took decades. And in fact, I think they started adopting their professional field of practice in the late 1950s. And I believe the last two states that adopted it were in the early 2000s, so this is a long haul. But our theory of change, if you will, is that if we can get a few states to be early-adopter states to kind of lead the way that we can create some momentum, and hopefully a tipping point.

John: What are some of the things that are standing in the way of making it happen? I know you said just the amount of time it took for some of that. But is there other obstacles that are kind of standing in the way?

Rhian: I think, you know, for us the promise we have made to early childhood educators, and what we heard over and over again, as we were surveying and interviewing educators in the field, is that — an enormous, a startling amount of support for this construct — but this sense that, you know, oh my gosh, we’re going to have more competency requirements, and we’re never going to make progress on compensation. And so we’ve made a commitment that we’ve got to get traction on the compensation side of things, that we’ve got to make progress in that area. And I think — so that requires money — like that requires financing and for the actual cost of quality to be paid for. And so I think that’s going to be the biggest; we’ve got to have some victories around compensation in order to fulfill our commitment and promise that we’re not just going to add competency requirements without really attending to the low, low pay of early childhood educators.

Scott: That’s important. That’s really important.

Jay: It sounds like that’s gonna take a huge sustained public investment. Do you have any ideas on how to make that happen?

Rhian: Yeah, you know, it’s actually interesting. I am — maybe erroneously, but my glass is half full. In that, I mean, I do think the pandemic creates a whole new dynamic that we have to deal with, but pre-pandemic, we saw two years of the largest increases in federal investment in childcare that we’ve had in the history of child care in this country. And it was done within a really strong bipartisan effort, you know, with a Democratic House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican White House, and you know, $5.4 billion was the first one, and it’s enormous. And we’ve we started to see governors making real progress on paying for the cost of quality. I’m paying market rate for childcare. And that’s how compensation — I mean, you can’t undercut and pay the bare minimum of custodial care, and then expect programs to pay early childhood educators, you know, a comparable salary. And so, we did start to see some really great — I mean, 40, I think it was 43 states — governors increased the rates that they were paying providers, and for me, you know, it’s almost like a contract between the public sector and the private sector: in that, if the public sector is actually going to pay what it costs to care for and provide good, high-quality learning environments for young children, then in return, those providers have to commit to raising salaries for early childhood educators. And so I do think that there’s a path forward on that, and we also — my colleague, Lauren Hogan and I (Lauren directs our policy work at NAEYC) — recently published a blog, We Can’t Go Back (sic)[https://www.naeyc.org/resources/blog/theres-no-going-back-child-care-after-covid-19] . And it talks about like the top six things that states can do to move forward and continue the momentum on this agenda, even with the COVID crisis that’s going on.

Jay: Fantastic. I’d imagine a lot of the support is contingent on the public’s perception of what is the ROI of early childhood education, and what is the public perception of the role of the teacher? Have you done some work around that?

Rhian: Yeah, that’s a great question. And we started Power to the Profession with a lot of market research that we did. So we did public opinion polling, and I was actually quite startled. I have been involved in polling in this field for 20 years. And when we first started it, there was definitely a gap in understanding the neuroscience of early childhood education, of understanding the critical learning role, the cognitive, social-emotional role, development role that that early childhood educators have. It was startling to me when we started polling for Power to the Profession how much the public has evolved in their knowledge; they get the science of early learning. So, you know, kudos to the advocates for the last 20 years who’ve been pushing that information. They absolutely understand it. And so they ranked early childhood educators on par with nurses and firefighters who are heroes in their communities — we also asked them, you know, “If we had federal legislation that specifically provided funding to early childhood education, and specifically spoke to what the salary should be for early childhood educators, would you support it more?” And we actually — it was within the statistical margin of error — but we actually got a bump in support. And that was new. I had not seen that before. So I do think the public understands the value. They are terrified — and we saw this in the poll as well — they’re terrified that if they say, yes, early childhood educators are worth more, we need to pay them more, that that means that what they’re paying for the cost of early childhood education will go up. And parents right now are paying as much as they pay for in-state tuition at a public university, and they can’t afford it. They absolutely can’t have — parents can’t pay more, and early childhood educators can’t earn less. And so we have built this system on the backs of the women who were in the workforce; we’ve built the system on parents, and they are very willing to pay their fair share, but $30,000 a year for infant care? It breaks the bank for most families. It’s just — it’s not attainable.

John: Absolutely.

Scott: Well, so that — I guess I don’t put you on the spot here — but it kind of brings up the question of, you know, it all sounds great, so … who wouldn’t be on board for this? Who’s standing in your way?

Rhian: That’s a great question; did you mean for the unifying framework for Power to the Profession?

Scott: Yeah. I mean, I think everybody, everybody wants their, you know, teachers of their children to be, you know, accredited, to go through all the best practices that NAEYC represents; we certainly want them to make a living wage. And yet, as you’ve been saying, you know, it’s been a struggle and with other professions, taking decades for them to eventually make it happen. So, I’m just trying to figure out so we can get right down to it: What it is, or who’s standing in the way of this getting done?

Rhian: I think it’s the financing; like we haven’t come across many people who said, you know, early childhood educators shouldn’t be paid more, or there isn’t value in the role of Early Childhood Education. Like even this, the folks who were skeptical at the beginning of all the neuroscience information, I think we have widespread bipartisan support. The issue is more about who pays for it — that is the bottom line, who pays for it? And in the system, there are four payers; there is the public sector, there are parents who are still footing the majority of the bill — parents and families — early childhood educators are subsidizing the system in low wages, and then employers. And, you know, we can’t wait for some magical unicorn solution where there’s another payer in the system, because it’s not going to happen. I mean, it’s not going to happen. And so like I said, parents can’t pay more, early childhood educators can’t earn less. So that leaves the public sector, and it leaves employers, and I think there’s an enormous amount of space in both those areas for substantial additional financing of the system. We see other countries do it. And we say we want to compete globally, and we just have to muster the public will to be able to do it.

Scott: Well, what I find interesting right now is this talk about funded college, right? And, you know, when my children were born, we immediately began preparing for paying for college and then — but now suddenly there’s this discussion of, well, maybe not everybody needs to go to college. But I don’t think anybody has ever said you don’t need good early learning experiences. So if we’ve been able to muster the ability to afford college — and I know it’s not true of everybody — but I mean, as a society, we sort of told ourselves that we need to finance that education. I think we should be able to bring everybody around to saying we need to use those same mechanisms in society to fund really where the best payoff is, which is in those early years.

Rhian: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting when we ran — I was previously the CEO of ‘First Things First’ in Arizona, which was a systems approach to early childhood education — we ran it as a ballot initiative and asked the voters to tax themselves, to pass a tax on tobacco products. And it raised 150 million dollars a year to support a system of early childhood education. And to pass the ballot initiative, we had to raise somewhere between three and four million dollars — at the time, it was the second-highest amount that had been raised for a ballot initiative in Arizona. And it was interesting because a lot of the donors were philanthropists and corporate leaders who had invested in higher education. And again, the science of early learning was starting to turn the tide, and it was becoming more and more obvious that you could only make progress in post-secondary education — to have full access to post-secondary education — if you invest in early childhood education, in young children; like the pathway that children get set on, as to whether or not they’re gonna make it into post-secondary education begins at birth.

Jay: Yeah. And I want to jump back a second. You talked a moment ago about the different places that funding comes from. And I wondered if you could talk a little bit about the Transforming the Workforce report, how that fits in?

Rhian: Yes, and that’s a great question, and I should have mentioned that — that was one of the foundations that we built the unifying framework on. Back in 2015, the National Academies put out — it’s not a light read, it’s about 750 pages, but it’s a really, really good report, one of the best I’ve seen — on the role of early childhood educators in making the science come alive for young children. And we use that as a foundation for the unifying report; it very decisively lays out that you can not pluck somebody off the street, and have them be an effective early childhood educator, that there is a defined set of competencies, there’s a pedagogy. To get the return on investment, you know, how you connect the dots between math and language, the cognitive flexibility with young children, how they do logical reasoning, those are all skills that are at their height of being built when children are three and four. And that to understand that and maximize it, the educator has to have some pedagogical background, and experience in that knowledge. And so that was the basis of Transforming the Workforce and a Power to the Profession. A couple of years later, the academies came out with a financing of early childhood education in order to do what they lay out in Transforming the Workforce. And they put the price tag as basically $140 billion dollars annually that would need to be spent to fully fund the system. Again, we have a long way to go before we get there. But it was helpful for them to say — kind of to draw a line in the sand — and say, this is how much this is going to cost. And I think it’s an important advocacy moment for early childhood educators because we sometimes, we do a lot of hand-wringing. And, you know, I’ll never forget — we were in the first round of budget after President Trump was elected — you know, we were like, okay, should we really ask for this much? Should we really ask for two billion? I don’t know, you know, it seems like a lot. And I was listening to the radio on the way to work and they, you know, were unapologetically talking about a $60 billion dollar increase in defense spending. And I got to the office, and I just said, you’re like, oh my gosh, like we have to stop hand-wringing, like we are as valuable and as important to the future of this country, to the economic well-being, to just the — for the well-being of kids and families as is defense spending, as is roads and bridges, as is transportation, and we have to be unapologetic about what it’s going to cost to finance the system. And so I think we’re getting better at that, but we have a long way to go.

Scott: Well, so there’s obviously money in the budget if we can get them to allocate it. But I guess the next question then is — let’s say we do that because I’m hoping that we do — how is that process going to work with the current teachers and administrators, so you’re going to be able to get them on board with this and what’s it gonna take to kind of get everybody on the same page?

Rhian: Well, that was — so part of Power to the Profession was to do that groundwork. I mean, we’re notorious as a field to having substantial disagreements about any number of things — you know, pedagogy, or policy — and the point of Power to the Profession and the three years we spent baking it was to intentionally set aside the space and the time for folks to weigh in, for us to debate — and man, did we have debates. Like we went several rounds. Like we really, we have really strong feelings about any number of topics within the content of Power of the Profession. I mean, one of the most hotly debated topics while we were doing this was, what’s the floor of competency? I mean, there was a group — there’re definitely folks who believe that a bachelor’s degree should be the floor of a lead teacher in an early childhood classroom. There are others, you know, many family home providers who are saying, are you kidding me, a bachelor’s degree? Like I am lucky if I have the financing, the time, the space to get a CDA, a credential. So we went many rounds on that topic alone. And I could give you a ton of examples like that and so — the three years that we spent was to hash it out and get to agreement. So I’m cautiously — it’s not to say that there won’t be disagreement as we move forward publicly — but I’m cautiously optimistic that, you know, we have the majority of the bell curve, other than some outliers, like the field is together on this now, and I’m excited about that.

Jay: That’s awesome.

Scott: One of the reasons why I’m really excited to see you doing this is what — you know, with our project, and you and I have spoken about it a number of times, we have a 200-year perspective — so these battles were attempted before; in fact, they were attempted by Patty Smith Hill, who was the founder of NAEYC. And so … I think there’s some interest there in the history and kind of informing what you’re doing, but it doesn’t matter what happened. It matters where we are now and what you’re doing, and so I’m just really thrilled that you’re taking this on. I know it’s a lot of work, I know there’s a lot of battles to be fought, but it looks like you’re doing it, and it’s just — it’s really exciting to me to see that it’s happening. So …

Rhian: You know, it’s funny, you mentioned the history of this — because I appreciate your saying that and it’s a massive group effort — but when we started the initiative, we started reading through so many things along the way that had been written. And we came across a document that was actually written by two NAEYC staff members in the early 1990s. And in essence, it laid out the total — the whole frame, like the entire conversation, laid out — and I joke — I was on the metro reading it, and I missed my metro stop because I was reading it — and like, oh my gosh, here we are 20 years later, why are we having the same conversation? And not to diminish all of the complexity of this — because it is complex — but the bottom line is, I mean, the question for us is, can we muster the public will to get this over the finish line? That is what it comes down to, is can we move public will to get the policy where we need it to be in the public sector?

Scott: Well, and so again, from my perspective — because I have seen this, this history of it — I think what a lot of times people do is they think that — like you’re making a suggestion, like “maybe we should do this Power to the Profession,” and that people are sitting back and going, “well, I guess we could try that.” And, what I’m saying is, we started with the profession being exactly where you’re headed, and we got off that standard, there was a drop of that standard. And we now have evidence of what happens when you don’t go down that path. So that’s what we bring to the table, I think, is we can show … you know, as you said, if you go back in history, everybody keeps coming back to the same conclusion, which is we need to go in this direction; and when we don’t, there’s pretty clear evidence as to what happens. So again, I’m just excited to see that it’s finally kind of coming to fruition. I think that’s generally how history goes, there are cycles, and we’re really at a good inflection point, I think for this, so … and maybe the pandemic and people being home with their children is kind of what we need. I’d like to think we’ll get some positivity out of it, you know?

Rhian: Yeah, I will say we’ve done more media work in the last four months than actually that I have during my whole career. And it’s startling to me how … the media attention that’s focused on child care right now. And we definitely need to take advantage of it. I mean, we have news outlets that are like, reassigning technology reporters to cover childcare. And so I do think in this kind of silver lining, folks are seeing firsthand, like, I can’t work without high-quality childcare.

Jay: And on that note, a big part of your plan is making high-quality teacher training and preparation available to everyone. Can you talk a little bit more about what that looks like in your mind?

Rhian: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I’m so glad you asked me that, because one of the things we found in the initial polling and survey work we did is that the biggest gap in what white early childhood educators experienced and what early childhood educators of color experienced, is the gap in access to post-secondary degrees, whether it’s financial, or it’s having the right mentors to help educators through the system. But there is massive disparity in access to higher education between black and brown early childhood educators and white early childhood educators. And if there’s — if the system is going to be equitable, we have to confront that as much as we have to confront compensation; like, it’s on the list. And then secondarily, you know, we’re recommending — actually the full task force recommended that institutions of higher education be accredited and NAEYC does accreditation for higher education — but preparation — if an early childhood as educator is going to go through the financial costs, the time costs of post-secondary degrees — they deserve some guarantee that they are going to be prepared when they graduate. And there are many fabulous institutions of higher education preparing early childhood educators, and then there are others that are mediocre. And so we believe the floor has got to be — again, just like early childhood programs — the floor of preparation programs, has to be one of high quality that marries back to, that aligns back to the professional preparation standards that we all agreed to. I think that’s another core element of all of this. Basically what we said is, right now, every single state in the country has their own competencies, their own system. There are 52 ways to do this, and it does a disservice to early childhood educators. It’s basically … it’s like, yes, we want you, we need you, we’re trying to recruit you, and let’s make it as impossible as we can to have this work for you. And so, you know, I could be fully qualified in State A, my spouse or partner transfers to State B, and I could be starting — most likely starting from scratch again. And it’s just, I mean, it’s not fair — you add to that, that, you know, I’m making $10.70 an hour and what’s the incentive? Like, what is the incentive to be an early childhood educator? So the idea is that all preparation programs and all state licensing standards, aligned to one set of competencies, which we all adopted — we launched those the same day that we launched the unifying framework. So there’s one set of competencies, and there are three levels to the profession. There is post-highschool, which is basically equivalent to a CDA, an associate’s degree, and then a bachelor’s degree or an entry-level master’s degree, and that is within those competencies. At the end of the competencies, there’s a scope of practice for each of those levels. So they all point back to the same set of competencies; there’s one teaching team, and you can be prepared at different levels. But it’s not as though you suddenly — the depth at which you study in those competencies is going to be different for a CDA to an entry-level master’s degree. But the fact that you have to have some knowledge in child development, or you know, some subject area expertise that is consistent, and the idea is that every state passes the same aligned set of competencies and licensing framework. So, if I am practicing, I have my license to practice in Nebraska, and I have a CDA credential, and my family moves to New Mexico, and I think my gosh, I want to progress, and I’m going to go for my associate’s degree. Now, I don’t have to start from scratch; I start with my ECE1 credential, my CDA. And all I have to do — they’re stackable — so all I have to do is build on that to get my associate’s degree. Ans similarly, if I want to go from my associate’s degree to my bachelor’s degree, so that — I mean there’s reciprocity — so that, I mean, I’m sure you guys have run into — there are so many early childhood educators running around with like, you know, 160 credit hours that don’t translate into any kind of credential or certification. And it’s just not fair; again, it’s not fair, we are taking advantage of the women in this system. And we’ve got to put a stop to it.

Scott: Absolutely.

John: Yeah. I have a question that kind of relates to that. I know that, you know, you’re talking about the floor being maybe a bachelor’s degree or just a degree of some kind, but I’m assuming all degrees aren’t created equal, and that you can go to one school and maybe learn a very didactic way, or the pedagogy of that school is very academically focused, where another one might be more play-based or nature-focused: Is there anything, you know in the pedagogy of your standards like they need to be able to be more child-centered or — do you know what I’m saying about the differences that might get in various degrees?

Rhian: Yes, and I would say yes and no. So definitely, we’re unapologetic about child development and what you have to know about child development and what a program — if they want to get NAEYC accredited in higher education — what they have to be doing in order to do that. That said, we are agnostic to philosophies. So we don’t say, you know, you’ve got to prepare in a Montessori way, or you’ve got to prepare in a Reggio way, or you’ve got to prepare in a Waldorf way or whatever. So there is flexibility in — and you are going to come across programs that are more academically driven and ones that are more play-based — I think it’s going to be up to consumers, to students, to align to kind of what they want to get out of the program in order to kind of match that up.

John: Got it. That makes sense. And what can people do to support Power to the Profession, is there something that they can do to help advocate for you or to join the cause?

Rhian: I’m so glad you asked. Yes, indeed, we still are … we’re still building our coalitions, we have tens of thousands of folks signed up. But if you go to our website and go to naeyc.org, and go to Power to the Profession, you can sign up to get all the alerts and to get on the advocacy list. So as we ramp back up, as the COVID situation — when the COVID situation stabilizes — as we ramp back up, we will definitely be putting information out to folks who are on that list.

Scott: Well, and I hope that over the coming months or so you’ll come back and talk with us some more, and maybe we can help to kind of spread the word when these things are coming up in the different legislatures, to try to assist with that too.

Rhian: I would love to. I would love to. We are going to need all the help that we can get when we start to ramp up advocacy. So I would welcome that opportunity.

Jay: Fantastic. We would, too.

John: Yeah.

Scott: Well, Rhian, we really appreciate your taking time today, and we’re trying not to cram everything into this one thing. So it’s been a good introduction as to what you’ve got going, which like I said, I applaud you. And I know it’s a team effort, but you’re leading the charge. So …

John: Yeah, thank you for that work.

Scott: Yeah. So …

Rhian: Well, thank you so much. It is truly … I am so passionate about what we’re trying to accomplish. And it’s humbling to me to have the chance to be in this position and to work with so many amazing early childhood educators across the country, to try to improve the conditions and align the science with the policy of early childhood education. So thanks for having me.

John: I don’t know about you guys, but I left that feeling really energized, and I kind of feel a passion to go and do something.

Scott: Absolutely. Well, there’s a plan. It’s well documented. I recommend that people go check it out, and things are getting done. I think we just now need to rally around it and see that it gets done.

John: Yeah.

Jay: Yeah, it’s so exciting to actually have an incredibly well thought out plan that we can actually put into action.

John: Yeah. And if you get a chance to check out the show notes, we’ve got links in there for some of the work that she’s doing, the http://powertotheprofession.org/. Is that right?

Scott: http://powertotheprofession.org/ or https://www.naeyc.org. There’s a lot of material there. I mean it’s a big organization, they do a lot of things — people should know about it. And I really appreciate Rhian for coming on and spending some time and help in getting the word out.

Jay: That’s right. If you want to know a little bit more about it, there’s a video about the Power to the Profession on the http://powertotheprofession.org website. And there’s also some new survey data that is very compelling, so check that out.

John: Yeah, they’ve got all the research to back everything. It’s incredible.

Scott: And there’s video if you don’t want to read, so …

John: That’s right.

Jay: Not 3D yet, but we’re working on it!

Scott: But just listen to the podcast. That’s all you need to do.

John: And if you’re interested in supporting what we’re doing. You can always jump on https://www.pathtolearning.us, or you can join us on Patreon at https://patreon.com/pathtolearning.

Scott: That’s great.

Jay: Thanks everybody.

John: See you in the next one.


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