Advocating for children was a path that I knew I would follow. As eloquently described by William Ayers, “Teaching is a life calling that breaks through boundaries by redefining all aspects of life”. My motivation to advocate for children became strong when I chose the profession of teaching but stronger when I became a parent. It was at this time that I realized there were so many laws that I was not familiar with even in my profession and more that did not offer children the quality of education that they all deserved. Therefore, it became essential to acknowledge and foster advocacy for young children. This effort was crucial at the micro as well as macro levels since children often were not able to speak up for themselves and communities were depending on their future efforts to enhance society. In speaking up at the micro level, political figures hear the concerns of those they swore to represent. In being able to hear concerns, changes can occur. These changes at the macro level can have a tremendous effect not only on the individual or local community, but society as a whole.
As stated in an African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In becoming a community leader on early childhood issue the strengths of every child can be developed. Community leaders are important because they attempt to eliminate issues that interfere with the well being of children. Ignoring these issues is not an option or a deterrent instead it becomes the motivator in helping students and their families overcome the challenge. In working hard to nurture their school environment community leaders help students be productive citizens. Success occurs because community leaders with the assistance of state leaders, families, community stakeholders, and schools, attain successful solutions that are vital for growth. Lobbying strategies to mobilize others can include developing fact sheets, reports, and analyses that provide information to those in the position to influence public policy; bringing together large numbers of constituents whenever there are public hearings or town hall meetings; organizing letter writing (e-mail) campaigns that flood policy makers with the ideas and desires of their constituents; and working with the media to provide coverage of important issues and events. Hence, informing others to develop a productive advocate plan, everyone can succeed.
Many voice their concern about the safety and welfare of children. Unfortunately, many choose to voice those concerns but take no action. That is not the case with Ms. Susan Lawson. Therefore, it is no surprise that the person who I believe to be a perfect advocate for children is Miss Susan (not her real name) as students affectionately call her. Susan was not able to have children but opened her home to many. She became a foster parent to numerous students in my classroom. She became the mother that many were never fortunate to have in their young lives. Yes, through state and federal assistance she was given support, but unlike many, she was not a participant because of the financial funds. She genuinely wanted to protect children and ensure that they were given adequate resources to become successful adults. While, removing children is sometime sadly necessary, it was uplifting to watch Miss Susan work her magic. She took on the challenge of being a positive role model who not only nurtured children but guided them on difficult journeys. She was able to establish relationships that every child should possess in order to be emotional equipped later in life. I am happy to say, every child that passed through her door have further pursed their education and have graduated college with remarkable grades. In observing the success of one small lady, I recognize that every one can make an impact on the life of a child. As a teacher I am in a unique position to drive and shape education but more importantly the future of children. In watching Miss Susan, I know I can also make a difference by staying abreast of news surrounding education and engaging in dialogue about critical issues in the field. In teaching children and helping them reach academic success, I can empower them.
Post at least three consequences of your experience being a part of a caring, collaborative learning community for your professional growth and development. Use any format you choose.
In being a part of a caring, collaborative learning community:
- I am able to be open and understanding with regard to numerous perspectives regardless if they are unlike my own.
- I am able to embrace the support and advice from colleagues. This support can also guide my thinking in the same manner or in new directions.
- I am introduced to various issues that negatively effect the education of children while also working towards practical strategies and solutions.
Post one goal for using this collegial experience to enhance your advocacy, policy, and/or system development work on behalf of young children, families, and the early childhood community.
To effectively teach children there are so many factors that must be addressed. In being familiar with advocacy, policy, and/or system development work on behalf of young children, families, and the early childhood community I am to provide the necessary instruction, practices, and emotional support that children require to succeed. Thus, my goal when completing the course is not to cease familiarity with these issues but also enhance my understanding of the connection. In discovering the connection between so many life-changing issues, I can assist children and their families in reaching unbelievable heights with regard to their education.
My family is made up of two parents and three young children. We made the decision not to marry but work together to provide a better living for our children. In leaving Mexico, we did not have a lot so our entrance into this country was filled with high hopes of achieving more. I speak a little English, however my partner does not. Although I want to learn, it is not easy with a full time job, taking care of home and three children. It fact, I cannot practice every day; therefore it is overwhelming to learn a new language. Yet, in this new country my life cannot improve without learning the dominant language of the country.
Our children are adapting to the many changes that occur with living in a new country. They do not appear to be unhappy but seem to be making friends in spite of speaking little English. However, schooling is hard, especially for Juan. Juan is our oldest child. He is having the hardest time because the school does not have instructors who are qualified to teach non-English students. In being summoned to talk to teachers and counselors with regard to Juan, I am told he must repeat his current grade. Teachers do not believe Juan is smart, but he just needs more time to become comfortable with learning the new way. After the first two meetings with teachers, I could not afford to keep going. I cannot loose my job. I must work to help pay for our new home, clothes, and food.
Everything is so expensive in this country. Our small home that we rent and an old car are our only possessions. I found a part-time job while the children are in school but it pays only minimum wage. My partner picks up odd jobs to make extra money, however we still need extra help. As a result of our low income we qualify for help buying healthy food with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, health insurance paid for by the government, financial support with the heating bill, and free meals for children at school.
While, the American culture seems very strange, raising a family that can succeed in life is our goal. We want our children to have opportunities that we have never had. Thus, the challenges of inability to speak English, unfamiliarity with American customs, difficulty finding work that pays enough for the family to live on without financial assistance program are obstacles we are willing to conquer.
A strategy(s) used by advocates or organizations to influence the political will toward improving early childhood systems in order to foster the well-being of young children and their families.
Education can be extremely political. There are many decisions that are made to further political aspirations. Candidates often campaign using an education platform in which they believe will gain them the greatest voter approval. In fact, new political figures are often elected because constituents are dissatisfied with the decisions of the previous office holder. As a result, political figures use their position to influence others and advance particular reforms that can foster the well being of young children and their families. While these candidates may have ulterior motives, there assistance is still valuable and can be utilized to support quality education for young learners.
Big corporations and their representatives often become involved in influencing education policy at different levels. Big corporations have much power in supporting education policies. They often pursue employees who can demonstrate appropriate skills needed within the workforce. While this opportunity may not seem important to young learners, their businesses advice to elected officials help to identify what students should be learning to compete in the business world. Thus, providing the knowledge needed for building strong educational foundations for children.
What part of this work appeals to you most and why?
Identifying contextual factors that are damaging to the development of young learners as well as finding services to outcome these challenges is extremely appealing. Contextual factors must be addressed appropriately to avoid hindering the learning process. Therefore, knowing how to establish meaningful relationships and implement high quality practices ensures positive outcomes as well as a chance for all students to achieve success .
Learning is not an easy task. It is filled with many challenges that often interfere with a person’s ability to do well. It is especially difficult for young children. They often are the generation that cannot speak for themselves. Thus, professionals must take head and listen as children directly or indirectly speak. In being an advocate, for young children we can improve their lives. Therefore, each story supports the fact that professionals cannot sit back and wait for others to “fix” opportunities for children to find success. Instead every stakeholder must take the necessary interest that increases the odds for children to develop and succeed successfully in the learning process.
Working alone is not feasible in education. Children depend on family support. This support goes a long way in fostering the physical, social, and emotional development of children. Therefore, parent involvement can be the closest allies and partners to professionals in achieving goals as well as objectives of the program. To involve parents, professionals encounter the cornerstone of the educational field. Children with parental involvement are not only confident but also competent. Education can be seen as a collaborative approach between teachers, children, and parents. Thus, receiving positive results when it comes to the education of children.
The stories of the children that we teach are powerful. They can shape the thinking, feeling, and motivation that professionals and policymakers need to improve the educational field. With the stories of children, one develops an obligation. This obligation extends beyond the program but embraces numerous opportunities that assure all children are given quality education that advances their developmental milestones. This obligation also allows professionals and policymakers to be more connected to the challenges that children are facing as well as those in the early childhood education field. Thus, allowing professionals to foster a higher self-esteem and willingness to speak up and out in assuring children are presented with quality education and care.
Public opinion, regarding early care and education programs for all children have evolved over the years. Initially, the public was under the impression that children with disabilities should be segregated from their non-disabled peers. In fact, children with severe mental disabilities were institutionalized while others were at home and received little education. Yet, with the passing of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, feelings begin to change. The public begins to see students with disabilities beyond individuals who should be institutionalized or banned from the classroom but as valuable contributors to the learning process. With federal assistance assuring that all children are able to receive early care and quality education, every child has an opportunity to thrive. With this in mind, the wave of activism and attitude continues to change with regard to early childcare and the education of all students.
From my perspective, in being able to observe children with disabilities functioning productively in the classroom, the public recognizes the importance of providing quality education and services for all young children and families. With extra help and services, children with disabilities have proven to be successful in the general education population. Therefore, integrated children with disabilities into the classrooms with their peers haven prove beneficial to all. This does not mean special services and consideration are eliminated yet offering procedural compliances and more can initiate progress.
In my opinion, the public will continue to be supportive of the direction education is moving. When looking at the history of early childhood education, public advocates have directly impacted every strand. This impact has been for the betterment of all children. Therefore, recognizing the importance of current trends in historical perspective the public can promote further advancement. This advancement allows change to redo public’s idea of the traditional classroom but also empower all children in families by proving a quality education that can be used in the 21st century.