Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Advocacy for ECE

 There is lots of talk in the CPL groups on Facebook lately about creating 'noise' and an 'uprising' around challenges faced in the early learning and care field. ECE have created groups like ECE's Unite to try to organize province wide strikes and other initiatives! 
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I admire their passion about wanting change in our field - over the past 30 years I have seen many times and many different groups try to organize walk outs and other strike type advocacy campaigns only to see them fall flat or backfire on ECE whose employer fired or reprimanded them for taking what amounts to illegal strike action and other work to rule behaviors that many ECE do not realize they cannot engage in when they are not protected by a Union and the Labor laws that apply to unionized workers!

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I am all for advocating for change and improvement in our field but I cannot help but want to encourage these ECE that as members of a regulatory body now with the government mandate of the College of ECE we need to be very careful in HOW we advocate for change. The language we choose and the manner we choose to advocate and so forth and ensure it is done in a way that does not violate the code of conduct or Professional standards of the College. 

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The AECEO is our designated professional association in Ontario whose mandate is to advocate for all these things and in my opinion we should be working through these exsisting infrastructures that know the rules and laws and are experts in the advocacy they have been engaged in for decades now.  These same people seem to whine that the AECEO is not doing 'enough' but the reality is that sadly their membership is very low compared to the College of ECE because it is a voluntary organization and ECE just do not choose to belong to it for various reasons. However if all the eligible ECE in Ontario joined the AECEO than they would have a much much larger budget to work with in social media campaigning, in actively having staff who were lobbying at a government level and so forth to be our 'collective voice'. Its been a long time since I sat on the London AECEO branch board but back than the total membership for the AECEO was minuscule and I do not imagine it has grown much in the past decade in comparison as with the College of ECE many former members left because they did not think they needed to have both memberships. However the College is NOT an advocacy body it is a regulatory body they ultimately serve the public   ... it is hard for the AECEO to create a collective voice when so few of us belong to it or actively support it. After 30 years in the field my active advocacy energy is dwindling but I am still a paid member of the Association to support those who still have the energy to 'fight' the good fight.

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I know many people feel that having to pay yet another fee to belong to the AECEO is unfair - however since it is next to impossible to unionize ECE at an employer level because employers do not have the deep collective tax payer pockets of the government that public education system has the reality is that nothing is ever going to change with us being so isolated as a 'collective' so belonging to the AECEO is the only real option for getting a 'collective voice'. The IMO the $60 membership fee would be much CHEAPER than dues you'd pay to a union if you did manage to unionize your centre at an employer level and they union still would not be able to do much to actually make financial changes to wages / paid pd and other financial challenges we face anyway! Nothing is going to change much with our wages until such a time that there is a true 'universal childcare' system that works the same as public education does where the 'government' is our collective employer - and I honestly do not see us achieving TRUE universal childcare in my lifetime because we just do not have the societal value in early childhood education that is needed and it will remain unlikely until the field itself raises the professionalism bar considerably by making 'learning visible and valued' in our programs both for the children AND for ourselves!

Be the change we want to see!

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much
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