Two main issues that have been mainstreaming the media are race and culture; interestingly, these issues have been impacting young children for quite some time now. Even to the point that some stakeholders believe nothing is being done to resolve such critical issues.
The topics of race, culture, and bias are sensitive issues people feel unease discussing, and rightfully so. People do not want to be labeled or identified as being prejudice for something they might not be consciously aware. For educators who are charged with the growth and learning of young children this may be a fine line. Especially when dealing with something like implicit bias. Implicit biases are attitudes that function outside our conscious mind and that challenge even the most veteran of teachers. Whether we want to acknowledge or our bias or not, conscious or unconscious, it has an impact in the education children receive. It is our responsibility to better understand these attitudes so that we are better able to prepare teachers to empower all children.
The Buell Early Childhood Leadership Program (BECLP) was a gateway for my personal work around this topic. This work initially began as an investigation of achievement gaps of boys of color as part of my yearlong capstone work for BECLP. My work led me to have discussions with several stakeholders across Denver County.
The next step was to look at common themes that emerge from all my conversations. One of these themes was, bias, and the impact it had on children. This lead to a collaboration with the Early Childhood Colorado Partnership through a mini grant. This collaboration allowed us to explore implicit bias within our teaching staff and the impact it can have on children’s academic career. The Partnership was very involved through the process of our research and gave us the platform to collaborate with other organizations. It was a very enriching experience to learn and hear what other organizations were being challenged with as well as overcoming in their work. The Partnership allowed us to start collegial conversations on our campus and provided a first step in improving our cultural competency, and reflect about our inner self to better to serve families. My hope is that this work inspires others to look within and explore their inner self to better understand bias and the effect it has on program, practice implementation and the impact for children.
by Kristina Mueller, Early Childhood Leadership Commission Director
We know that when children are cared for in stable, quality environments with supportive, well-trained educators, they are better able to reach their full potential and be prepared to succeed throughout their life.
Colorado’s professional development system for early childhood educators has soared over the past several years thanks to the work of the Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Early Childhood and the Department of Education, along with all of our partners throughout Colorado.
However, many communities still lack an effective, consistent workforce in whom families can place their trust and with whom young children can thrive.
That’s why the state of Colorado is working together to develop and implement sustainable strategies to help recruit, retain, compensate, and support the early childhood professional workforce.
The Early Childhood Leadership Commission has prioritized “Elevating the Early Childhood Workforce” as one of its three main focus areas for the next several years. Through the work of the EC Professional Development Advisory Working Group, we are usingresearch, stakeholder input, and local and state expertise to create the State’s next generation EC Workforce and Professional Development Plan, which was originally created in 2010.
Taking this work further, Colorado is participating in the Incubation to Innovation (i2I) project with the National Academy of Medicine through an innovative and exciting public/private partnership including Early Milestones Colorado, the Colorado Department of Education, and the Colorado Department of Human Services, along with philanthropic partners Gary Community Investments and the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation. Over the next several years this group will develop sustainable and varied approaches to recruit, retain, compensate, and support a well-qualified workforce through research, planning, and pilots that will lead to the spread of practices and policies throughout the state.
Once again, Colorado is leading the way by working to find sustainable, supportive methods to support our early childhood professionals and provide better environments for our children. We look forward to working together to develop and implement this exciting work!