Early childhood education in the United States is on the threshold of historic change. The law, pending in Congress, will help provide free, universal pre-care for every three- and four-year-old child in the country, and make childcare more affordable for millions of families. This will be the biggest strategic change – and investment – in the early childhood decades.
What many experts see as a crisis in childhood care and education is the solution that has pushed the epidemic to a breaking point. You may hear a lot about this crisis these days, but on today’s podcast, we want to step back and see how we got here काय what is the situation for teachers and parents at all levels and under what circumstances Biden administration’s proposal Could make sense.
The issue came to the fore a few years ago when Haspel was working on education policy and hearing about how educational inequality returns to inequality at an early age – even before some children move into a formal school setting. And when he became a parent himself, he really understood the problem, and he saw the challenges that well-to-do parents face.
Edsurge: What is it about childhood that causes such a crisis?
Elliott Haspel: The first is how far and wide the pain point is nowadays. This is not a problem for the poor. This is where middle-class and upper-middle-class families are deeply affected by the inability to find affordable, high-quality childcare.
And it seems to have grown out of an epidemic and a huge economic impact from it.
Yes, that’s right. This has really blown up the uncertain balance that exists in the region. The average salary for childcare staff is about $ 12 per hour. And that’s what McDonald’s was offering. So at least you can compete. I don’t know if people who work with our youngest kids want to compete with McDonald’s, but you can.
Now that the world’s McDonald’s are at $ 15 or 16 per hour and are unlikely to return anytime soon, is it going to get worse and worse and worse? We are seeing events in which classrooms are sitting empty, not because they don’t have space and parents don’t want spots, but because they literally can’t find staff to put and build in those rooms because they need to meet regulatory requirements.
In your book you talk about the history of how we got here. It seems that political discussions about reforming the system have taken place at other times, but they have not.
So there were two major times in American history when we had this opportunity to build a stronger childcare system.
One is that after World War II, when all the men went to the front, the women had to go to work. And Congress passed legislation known as the Lanham Act, which originally created publicly funded childcare programs. They were really high quality. And when all the men came back after the war, there was such a moment, well, what are we going to do now? It’s shocking to see historical photographs of women and children with signs like ‘Daycare is a right’ or ‘Let women have a choice to work’. But in the end, the funds were drawn because of the social idea that mothers of young children should have a home with them. As a footnote, [that attitude] In places like Europe, he did not win the day because the war had wreaked havoc there, yet he needed working women. So this is where you see the difference between the American market and the European system in the Western world.
And then the next opportunity came in 1971. It was called the Comprehensive Child Development Act and it was passed on a bilateral basis, and now what the Biden administration is proposing to do, it would have done a lot more. … He was very forward-thinking for his day.
And then it gets President Nixon’s desk. Everyone initially thought he would be fine with this. But he ends up vetoing it. The story goes that he had several religiously conservative advisers, including Pat Buchanan, who saw this as a government intrusion into a truly family privilege. This is happening at the same time that this very free-market logic, almost liberal capitalism, is coming to the fore. So Nixon vetoed it in extremely harsh language. He talks about how this will cast a long shadow over the federal government in the family.
And we haven’t literally come back in the last couple of years to talk about the level of investment needed to create a system that is affordable and accessible to everyone.
The Biden administration is backing legislation that is moving to make major changes to early care. What are some of the key points?
So there are two main aspects to thinking about childhood. One is the universal pre-K. Originally within three years, each of the states opting to make the offer would offer free spots in pre-K for every four- and three-year-old. And those slots will be distributed through a combination of school-based programs, head start extensions and the private child care market. Basically, the public school model is three years old, but consider as it is delivered in different settings.
Then a few things for the care of the children. So these are your infants and your little ones, your private childcare programs that don’t pre-K … States will start reimbursing those programs for the cost of care … and what they do right away is raising wages. . This will make the area more competitive and attractive to potential employees.
What do you see as the biggest obstacle to the reforms currently under discussion?
Things look pretty good for the actual bill to pass. So the next challenge is implementation.
This is a very fast implementation timeline. Actually three years is not so long. And some benefits are coming online much sooner than that. And we will have a lot of kids, most likely, coming into a system that was not affordable before, so we need to create a staff. We are going to build our facilities. We have a lot of work to do to make this actual rollout as smooth as possible
I have no doubt that there will be some difficulties. We are creating a system where no system exists. It’s going to be a little messy.