During the next few weeks we will be posting stories of advocacy for Camosun’s ELC program. Today’s letter comes from Janis Johnson, Coordinator of Peninsula Connections.
April 12, 2014
Dr. Marilyn Pattison, Chair
Board of Governors, Camosun College
Re: Potential Program Cuts to Early Learning and Care Program
Dear Dr. Pattison,
Peninsula Connections for Early Childhood, the Saanich Peninsula Early Years Table, wishes to express concern and dismay regarding the proposed cuts to the Early Learning and Care Program at Camosun College. This program is the only one available in our region, a region experiencing a crisis in its ability to secure adequate numbers of qualified diploma level graduates to fill the vacancies in our early learning and care facilities. If we are to have quality early childhood programs we need qualified educators, we cannot afford to compromise and reduce that quality of care for our youngest, most vulnerable citizens. We must all advocate on their behalf.
In 2013 the BC Government released its Families Agenda for British Columbia: Building a sustainable quality early years strategy to support BC families. This document focuses on working toward enhanced integration, coordination and development of the early childhood sector. A Provincial Office of the Early Years has recently been established and has indicated that it is preparing to announce the creation of one thousand new childcare spaces in 2015 and thousands of new spaces over the next five years. The early years community in our region is celebrating this positive shift by the government. More than ever we will need access to fully trained Early Childhood Educators. In light of these exciting, desperately needed developments we ask that you please re-consider your plan to reduce the training opportunities for Early Childhood Educators at your College.
Camosun College is an integral part of a shared vision of providing quality education opportunities for those who care for our young children. Both the educators and, through them, the children deserve the best that we can offer. Please re-consider your proposed cuts to this valuable program, re-consider the significance of your role related to the enhancement of learning and care opportunities for young children and maintain the Early Learning and Care program as it currently exists.
Janis Johnson, Coordinator,
Peninsula Connections for Early Childhood
During the next few weeks we will be posting stories of Advocacy for Camosun’s ELC program. Today’s story come from Rhonda at Lambrick Park Preschool.
Hello ELC supporters.
Today, the preschool children and educators at Lambrick Park Preschool & Childcare delivered a very special letter to the Chair of the Camosun Board of Governors.
The attachments show the envelope the letter was secured in.
The envelope contained over 35, 17 inch paper eggs that had been marble painted with pastel paint by the children and educators at our preschool and our current Camosun practicum student.
The letter explained that the children had made and given magical eggs to the Board of Governors. The eggs were to help them all remember to listen, cooperate and share because that is what we learn at preschool. The letter explained that working together was awesome because “everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.” It explained that the children and educators wanted Camosun to keep its 2 year ELC diploma program just as it is now so that it can continue to provide quality educators for our programs, families and children, maintain professionalism in our field and so we can continue to support and be proud of Camosun College.
We asked the Board of Governors to take good care of our beautiful eggs.
We wrote the letter on manilla paper with a purple, grape smelling Mr. Sketch felt.
The children made their own envelope and decorated it with a handmade flower and stickers. The envelope was approximately 2 feet by 2 1/2 feet large.
I was honored to hand deliver the special package to the college this afternoon.
Those of you who are fortunate to spend your day working with small children, we encourage you to ask your children to create some special pieces of art and with their permission, send them to the college next week.
When we all work together, we can create something awesome. (have you seen the Lego movie??!)
Yours in child care,
Proudly AKA Teacher Rhonda
Facing a budget shortfall, the executive committee at Camosun College in Victoria, BC is slating the Early Learning and Care Program for cuts.
Camosun College is facing budget cuts from the Ministry of Advanced Education. On March 14, 2014, the Early Learning and Care (ELC) program faculty were informed that the program was one of 6 programs within the college that was slated for cuts. This will significantly impact the ELC program. Faculty are currently exploring the possible options to mitigate the cuts. We do not know at this time exactly what the effect on our program and ELC students will be.
Initially, the college planned to cut the diploma program, reducing it to a 1-year certificate program. Since that time, and with significant community advocacy, the college has decided to retain the diploma, but is now looking at in taking students on alternate years, beginning this September. This will reduce by half; the number of ELC diploma graduates in our region, and will significantly reduce the training opportunities for those trying to complete the program on a part-time basis. A letter was sent out to potential students for the September 2014 cohort in early April informing them that there may not be a program starting in September of this year.
Please share this information to your networks and follow us on twitter at: #ELCcuts
For more information please read the briefing note:
Camosun ELC Briefing note
A letter from the Faculty to the community:
I’m having a day. One of those days where I just wished I was the kind of person who didn’t cry at the drop of a hat. Where I wished I was one of those people who could keep their emotions in check, who is able to appear to be “professional” at all times. I am not that kind of professional!!! That’s right I am crying and it’s an ugly cry. My mascara is running, my chest hurts and there is nothing pretty about the way I look or feel. I feel raw.
I want to tell you the story of how I got here to this raw place but it’s not my story to tell. Instead I will first repeat what I said on Facebook earlier:
“It is not my job to get children ready for kindergarten. It is my job to honour the person they are right now.”
Secondly I will say thank you to all those who liked our status, commented on it and shared it. You reaffirmed why I am so passionate about early childhood professionals.
Thirdly I will rant.
Can we just get rid of the words Kindergarten Readiness from our vocabulary?! Please! I think we need to stop using these words for a few decades, in fact let’s just plan not to say them for a century. Heck lets just never say school or kindergarten readiness again. ever!
Can we adapt our programs to the children and not expect the children to adapt to our programs! Maybe I am out there but when a child enters our program and it isn’t working for them I look to see what I can change. I am feeling like we are quick to point to the child and say something is wrong with you.
Can we realize that for a short time parents and children are letting us into their lives and that is an honour. With that realization can we recognize that time should not be squandered on things that aren’t worthy of our time, like kindergarten readiness! Young children are some of the most interesting, creative, risk taking individuals I know. I want to immerse myself in their thinking and research. Someone else preconceived ideas of what they need to know doesn’t interest me. I want to know what the children want to learn about. What questions do they have? What far flung theory do they want to try out today and how can I help?
Lastly can we all just stop getting children ready for the next phase of their lives and acknowledge the phase they are in now? Who they are right now is immensely interesting and deserving of our time.
Sidenote: Years ago at my first Leadership Institute session Rita Chudnovsky posed the question “Why can’t we be leaders who cry?” I obviously took those word to heart.
The doorway the site of many invisible lines in our schools and programs many many unsaid but established guidelines. Some classrooms a child walks across that threshold and they know they are safe and cared for. Some classrooms children walk across that threshold and they know they must leave the person they are aside. Some thresholds only allow exit if they stand quietly in a perfectly straight line. Some thresholds demand joy upon exiting or entering. The guidelines are clear to the members of that class, program and/or school.
The thresholds don’t just speak to children though. The threshold speaks to parents as well. Sometimes it speaks to parents far more loudly and clearly then the children. It says drop your child off here. It tells them not to cross. That past this invisible line is only a place for children and educator to participate. YOUR PARTICIPATION does not matter! You are not welcome. I believe it says these things unintentionally sometimes but sadly it says these things.
I know this because I was once one of those educators who at one time put an invisible line up. I thought my job was to build a relationship with the child not the parents. I thought my job was to focus only on the child between drop off and pick up. This invisible line was supported by policies and procedures in parent handbooks as well. You must drop off your child by 9:30 a.m. It was also supported by how rooms were set up. Sign in sheets were right by the door. This myth that our jobs were easier if parents just dropped off their children and left was a truth, not just a theory.
I practiced it as truth but I didn’t believe it. So eventually I started to question it. How can we ask parents to trust us when they don’t know us? How can we welcome families into our program? How can we erase those invisible lines?
When I arrived at Moss Rock Preschool I wanted to establish my pedagogy of relationships and listening. I had a question of inquiry How can our preschool program create community? So I developed practices that encouraged that. These will sound terribly simplistic. I greeted every person entering our preschool at the beginning of the day. I used their names. I asked parents how they were doing. I would ask personal directed questions like “How was your boat trip this weekend?” At the end of the day I greeted them the same way. I would share stories of our day. I would open the door to our class a few minutes early inviting families to come in and participate. I would point out when there were new narratives in the room and invite them to read them. I would throw preschool parties. The sign in was put in the middle of the room inviting parents to come in.
Today I feel like we have a great community within our preschool. It is my hope that what our threshold says is you are all welcome here.