We aren’t making much progress against “crummy child care”. Everyone I have spoken with over the years who does this work, agrees. Everyone. But since no one is really asking us, initiatives keep getting built around unreasonable and ineffective outcomes. I AM a fan of environmental rating scales but they are literally just a poke into the work needed.
We know the children need responsive warm relationships with their teachers – single best predictor of child success – right? But because we only get funding for measurable outcomes, like ERS or CLASS scores, we have limited our efforts to the “teach to the test” approach that WE KNOW DOESN’T HELP CHILDREN. This “do as funders can measure” trance has gone on long enough. We must start talking about how to actually change the behaviors of teachers. (Forgive the abundance of quotation marks and capitals but I want this to jump off the screen and into the minds and hearts of those of us who KNOW that children are suffering in many child care programs). If we don’t say what we see, nothing will change.
This week, in a news story from NC, “day care” teachers were caught yelling at a kid who went to the bathroom on the playground “I don’t get paid to clean up your **^%.” and further shaming and exclamations. It was not some under the radar, unlicensed family child are home. It was in a high-starred corporate chain. Was I shocked? Not at all. And I bet you aren’t either. Seen children yelled at? Seen them yanked up? Ignored? Threatened? I have seen all of these behaviors from some combination of a) stressed b) mean c) uneducated d) bullying women. Should they be paid more? Not to yell at kids. But if we think its ok to leave children in their care then we are part of the problem. And if we are sympathetic to their stress, then we need to do something. Not just rate their room arrangement.
This incident particularly irks me because I know it goes on far more often than anyone (else) knows. Its not just bad behavior by rogue teachers. Its the state of the industry as a whole and I do mean industry. A profession would never tolerate that behavior and would have weeded it out long before. There are thousands of children exposed to these conditions every day, every where. And we wonder about their behavior?
I know we can’t monitor every playground and classroom. I know regulations are our best effort to protect children. But those of us who are in classrooms “improving quality” have seen the experiences of many many children and I think we are morally obliged to raise the alarm. Intelligently, with offerings of suggestions (mine is Quality Design & Build) and caveats for the great teachers and the criminally low pay, I still feel obligated to scream bloody murder until we adapt better strategies to really build quality. Real Quality. No, really.