Letter: Support for early childhood educators
To the Editor: I am a parent of a 2½-year-old at the Bennington Early Childhood Center writing to raise awareness of an important bill currently being voted on in Vermont, H 171. The bill addresses a systemic early childhood education problem we have in Vermont.
My daughter’s school, BECC, was closed Wednesday, March 10, so the teachers and staff could spend the day virtually lobbying in Montpelier in support of the bill. The decision to close for a full day is not taken lightly, as most of the parents rely on the child care the school provides, but this bill is simply too important for our state's future to do anything else.
Parents at BECC come from a variety of backgrounds, including households with two full-time working parents, full-time working single parents and stay at home parents/homesteaders like myself with, as you can imagine, a variety of income levels.
We all know by now this pandemic has highlighted the disparities between the haves and have nots.
As someone with the means to be able to choose to leave my career in politics to start a family and focus on living a life more centered around the environment, social justice and Judaism and ultimately move home to Vermont, large disparities in our country, state and community are always on my mind. As H-171 states, no family should pay more than 10 percent of their income on child care nor should those that provide care for our children be the lowest paid college educated people (mostly women) in our society.
After college I was fortunate enough to work on two highly contested campaigns for Tammy Duckworth in Illinois, and Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign in Iowa. I went on to work for the Obama Administration in public engagement at the EPA and the White House. I spent the better part of my late twenties working seven days a week, 10-12 hours a day. Although the campaign work was hard and the bureaucracy of the federal government was frustrating beyond words, none of it was as exhausting as the work-study I did in college working with 2-year-olds at the then Bennington College Early Childhood Center. Every parent knows how hard this work is, there is no excuse for failing to fairly compensate our early childhood educators.
I want to thank my local legislators for signing on as co-sponsors of H.171 and encourage the public to get in touch with both your legislators and the governor’s office to express support for this crucial bill. You can reach out to your legislators at letsgrowkids.org/mobilize/.
by Shira Sternberg