Transforming Minnesota’s Early Childhood Workforce Leadership Team is committed to promoting racial equity by ensuring that children of color and indigenous children have access to affordable, high-quality, culturally relevant early care and education and to eliminating the systemic racism that has kept wages for early educators of color and indigenous educators working for pay that is less than their White counterparts.
We are committed to centering racial equity; elevating the voices of Indigenous educators and educators of color; and continuous reflection and learning about our own implicit biases. We are intentionally expanding our decision making table and invite interested educators to reach out to us if you are interested in participating in our work.
The Leadership Team is using a Racial Justice Equity Assessment tool, adapted from a tool developed by Voices for Racial Justice. This tool helps us make better policy decisions by asking key questions before adopting and recommending new policy. This analysis on the front end reveals the possibility of unintended consequences that would worsen disparities, as well as highlights the positive equity changes that can result.
There are three inequities that we are working to address:
- The Achievement Gap. Minnesota has some of the worst achievement gaps which stem, in part, from early education opportunity gaps; and
- The Child Care Shortage. The shortage of quality early care and education shortchanges opportunities for children and their families; and
- The Inequitable Burden on the Early Childhood Workforce. The almost all-women workforce, including large numbers of women of color, bears the brunt of poverty-level wages so that parents can go to work and employers can hire workers.
These inequities are all interrelated and we are working to address them comprehensively. Teachers are the most important component of a high-quality early learning experience and we are focusing on supporting the early childhood workforce with the long-term goal of improving outcomes for children.
There are deep gender and racial inequities that need to be rectified for the early childhood workforce. The underpaid labor of the women, including a significant number of women of color who are paid even less than their white counterparts, is supporting our economy. Women of color are overrepresented in the early childhood workforce and earn poverty level wages. This is not right. It is critical to maintain the diversity of the early childhood workforce as our increasing diverse child population needs teachers of color. And we also have to address the systemic barriers that have kept the early childhood workforce from accessing the supports they need to advance their careers.
We are working with key policy makers to address the chronically low wages and the underfunded child care system by breaking down barriers to professional development and higher education through changing the higher education system to make it both accessible and affordable; creating a cost modeling plan so that Minnesota can better understand the substantial investments that will be needed so that families can have affordable care; and working to increase compensation through salary improvements, benefit packages and better working conditions for the hard-working early childhood workforce.
Here are some of the articles we are reading as a Leadership Team:
Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education: NAEYC Position Paper, April 2019
Rebuilding the Early Care & Education System with Equity at the Center, Bank Street College of Education, 2020
An Anti-Racist Approach to Supporting Child Care through COVID-19 and Beyond, Center for Law and Social Policy, 2020
Start with Equity: From the early years to the early grades, The Children’s Equity Project (CEP), 2020