The killing of Mr. George Floyd, and the loss of far too many Black and Brown lives, have left the early childhood community and the entire nation anguished and outraged. These premature deaths are a result of the on-going and systematic racism that seeps through institutions, including our educational systems that date back hundreds of years. It is the same story that deprives Black children of quality education and health care, and Black adults of job security and leadership positions.
Because the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) exists to support the wellbeing of young Wisconsin children and our early education workforce, we strongly assert that Black Lives Matter. We all hold responsibility for addressing police brutality, dismantling systematic racism, and equalizing power in our United States. We understand that now is the time to re-imagine what kind of America we want for our children and grandchildren — an America where all children in all communities can live safely – free of bias, discrimination, and racism.
The National Association of Education of Young Children has released a call to action for our field and their accompanying Advancing Equity in Early Childhood Education position statement. Early educators play a critical change-making role. Ann McClain Terrell, NAEYC President, and Rhian Evans Allvin, Chief Executive Officer, remind us that we must stand together with an unwavering goal of achieving a just and equitable future.
“Advancing equity in early childhood education requires understanding this broader societal context, these biases, and the ways in which historical and current inequities have shaped the profession, as they have shaped our nation. The biases we refer to here are based on race, class, culture, gender, sexual orientation, ability and disability, language, national origin, indigenous heritage, religion, and other identities. They are rooted in our nation’s social, political, economic, and educational structures.”
We understand that early educators are facilitators of equity, social justice and anti-bias education when they are truly culturally responsive to the children and families they serve. By examining their biases and actively working in accountable ways to challenge those biases so they change their understanding, early educators push back against racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and the other “isms” that cause harm. This is on-going work and work that should not happen in isolation.
Now more than ever, we are committed to working to create a world where all children and families can thrive. Let’s ensure that the young children for whom you care, educate, and advocate, grow up seeing us all work to dismantle racist systems. WECA will continue to ensure that equity and social justice are cornerstones of the programs and services that we offer. We promise to use our advocacy platform to advance change and to speak up every time we see injustice. We invite you to join us and share your ideas for how we can best do this work together.