My policy issue concerns the lack of adequate salary, benefits, and professional recognition for teachers in independent preschool programs. Although there is increasing pressure for preschool teachers to hold college degrees, there is little attention given to the fact that most independent (non-profit, faith-based, and private) programs simply cannot afford to hire and retain highly qualified/degreed teachers. The result of this inequity is high teacher turnover rates and low staff morale leading to instability in the early childhood workforce and possible poor child outcomes—including lack of attachment, lack of resilience, and delays in social/emotional and cognitive development (Commodari, 2013). As I reviewed the various social media venues in this week’s resources (Laureate Education, 2013a), I think these two would communicate my policy issue the best:
- A website—I believe that a website would be a remarkably effective way to display my policy issue. It would allow me to write about the issue with references to current research and links to relevant support organizations, for example The Worthy Wage Campaign (Center for the Childcare Workforce, 2015) or the Alliance for Childhood (http://www.alliance for childhood.org). The website could include testimonials from teachers in the field and data to support the policy issue, as well as current related news. I could envision a section of the website devoted to “real” stories—profiles of teachers who are working at poverty-level wages and/or those who found it necessary to leave the field in search of a living wage. A message board could be included where discussions could take place about the issue that (hopefully) would empower people to act. There could even be a PayPal button for contributions to the cause.
- The second social medium I would choose would be Playback (Laureate Education, 2013a). I was not familiar with this medium before, but I think it would communicate the issue very well through video clips. Clips could include footage of effective teachers in practice and how they create a quality-learning environment for young children. Other potentially valuable clips could focus on interviews with teachers, scholars, and business leaders as they discuss the issue. Worthy Wage rallies could also be shown to rouse people into action.
Who Would Visit?
The potential audience for the website would include early childhood professionals who would be interested in the possibility of a living wage. Families connected to those teachers/programs profiled in the website would have a natural curiosity to see their program on the website. Community activists might be drawn by the worthy cause. Administrators would visit to keep informed of the climate of potential change if the issue provoked people into action. I could even envision political representatives having a look if the activity level began to heat up and was seen as a budding influence to their concerns.
The Playback presentation would appeal to anyone interested in early childhood and/or the issue of quality preschool and a healthy EC workforce. Certainly, families and staff associated with those displayed in the video clips would watch. I also think it would be a good tool for colleges to use in early childhood classes as a revelation to students choosing the EC field.
Benefits and Challenges
Website Benefit: Flexible formatting includes a potential for using text, images, graphs, message board, links to relevant websites, and interactive polls. Visitors to the website could easily become involved.
Website Challenge: The site would need constant monitoring for feedback and updating information. This could be time-consuming. There is also the chance that it would not reach a wide audience unless the campaign became widely known. Apart from those involved, how would people know it was there?
Playback Benefit: Most people enjoy watching videos. It would reach a wider audience than written text. The videos would also present the information in a compelling way—watching an actual preschool teacher in action or watching baccalaureate-degreed teachers describe the bleakness of earning a poverty wage after years of preparing to work in their chosen field would present a persuasive statement for the issue.
Playback Challenge: This medium would require a lot of legwork. Unlike the website which could be maintained from one’s home computer and with resources close to hand, developing and updating a Playback site means having the time and the tools to make compelling videos—presumably traveling to various locations after connecting with people and programs who would be willing to be included in the video clips. After the initial taping, the clips would need editing and posting. Although a useful medium, it would take much time and energy to keep it fresh and stimulating.
Alliance for Childhood. (2015, April 1). Retrieved from http://www.allianceforchildhood.org
Center for the Childcare Workforce (2015, April 1). Retrieved from http://www.ccw.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=24&Itemid=53
Commodari, E. (2013). Preschool teacher attachment, school readiness, and risk of learning difficulties. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 28(1), 123-133.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2013a). Maria’s social media adventure [Interactive media]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu