Last week, the Massachusetts Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (MAECTE) held its Early Childhood Policy Summit.
The title of MAECTE’s summit: “Preparing the Early Childhood Workforce and Supporting Quality Programs: Structural Changes Needed in Funding and Higher Ed to Meet the Challenge.”
As MAECTE’s website says, the organization is “a professional voice of Early Childhood Educator preparation,” and it “provides vision, leadership, resources, policy initiatives, and professional development opportunities to support Early Childhood teacher educators.”
Summit participants included providers, advocates, and state officials including Tom Weber, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), and Carlos Santiago, commissioner of the Department of Higher Education.
“When our teachers do not make a livable wage, we do not make ourselves appealing in a competitive market,” Weber said. He also pointed out that current voucher rates are too low and the state’s QRIS quality system should be updated.
Commissioner Santiago said, “I’m here because personally, my two oldest children are early educators, but professionally, there’s a reason early education is important.” It is increasingly clear, Santiago said, that brain is more important than brawn when it comes to increasing public wealth. People need 21st century skills to prosper in a 21st century economy. That’s why it’s so important to assure that children have a path to success.
Other speakers included:
Joni Block, an EEC board member, who said improving workforce conditions is crucial so that the field can attract the new professionals it desperately needs.
Peg Sprague, a consultant in early childhood, youth development, and strategic planning, emphasized the importance of having a mixed delivery system of public school, center-based, and family providers that can offer a range high-quality options to parents and children.
Former State Representative Marie St. Fleur pointed out that high-quality pre-K should be part of an educational continuum that supports students throughout their academic careers.
Deb Abelman, president of MassAEYC, shared information about NAEYC’s “Power to the Profession” — a national collaboration to define the early childhood profession by establishing a unifying framework for career pathways, knowledge and competencies, as well as qualifications, standards, and compensation.
And our own Amy O’Leary provided an update on the state budget and pending legislation to expand preschool.
After the speakers, four break-out groups held discussions on:
• career lattices and alternative pathways
• higher education, and
• advocacy and funding
To learn more, check out MAECTE’s new website. And stay tuned for next steps.