AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions


WHEREAS, early childhood education (from birth to kindergarten) has been proven to help children succeed academically, cognitively and socially, as well as lay the foundation for a love of learning and lifelong success; and

WHEREAS, well-developed early childhood education programs lead to critical thinking and attention skills; improved expressive and receptive language proficiency; literacy and mathematical operations; and enhanced decision-making skills for all children; and

WHEREAS, studies show that risk factors appear as early as 9 months, and that by age 3, children from middle- and upper-income homes have heard 30 million more words than children from lower-income families. These disparities can negatively affect a child's future academic experiences in school; and

WHEREAS, research also demonstrates that high-quality early childhood education particularly benefits disadvantaged children by ensuring school readiness, significantly helping bridge the academic achievement gap, reducing dropout rates and lack of appropriate social behavior, and increasing economic productivity and social stability well into adulthood; and

WHEREAS, high-quality and affordable infant, toddler and preschool programs in the United States today are in short supply, and thus are not available to large numbers of low-income working parents and are becoming less available to larger and larger numbers of middle-class working parents due to funding cuts. This leaves the most vulnerable children and families without access to early learning and care; and

WHEREAS, research demonstrates that the skill levels of early childhood educators and caregivers are critical factors in encouraging children's literacy and math knowledge, attention and focus, ability for empathy, healthy self-regulations and social relations. However, the early education workforce generally does not have access to continued education and professional development and remains shamefully undervalued and underpaid; and

WHEREAS, whether high-quality or struggling, there is often little or no coordination, connection and alignment between programs delivered in homes, child care centers, Head Start programs and elementary schools in their targeted school communities, nor between their many federal, state and local level and family funding streams; and

WHEREAS, too often the importance of assisting children and families transition from one education setting to another is ignored; and

WHEREAS, the nation's public education system does not currently have the capacity or wherewithal to deliver the high-quality early childhood education programs that are needed, yet it does clearly have a vested interest in advocating for such programs as they are critical for student success in later years; and

WHEREAS, public education can learn much from the signature features of early childhood programs such as Head Start and most center-based programs, which are centered on the needs of the child and the family and thus provide the wraparound services necessary for the health, social/emotional, nutritional, educational and developmental growth of children; and

WHEREAS, these wraparound services are rarely coordinated or linked into primary education except in community school models; and

WHEREAS, research demonstrates that family and community engagement in school-based and school-linked learning and development—as practiced in both community schools and early childhood programs—significantly expands the resources and supports that are available to children and their families and that are critical to student success; and

WHEREAS, effective early childhood education and intentional connection to public education is especially important to ensure that public school children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds who need more supports and services, are ready to maximize the learning potential that we believe will result from effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will strongly advocate for the right of every child and family in this nation to a high-quality early learning and care experience; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work vigorously to establish comprehensive, multiple-provider systems that ensure voluntary access for all children to high-quality early childhood education and care from birth forward and that are linked to public school systems so that the social/emotional, cognitive and academic needs of children are addressed; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work with affiliates and community partners to effectively leverage both human and financial (local, state and federal) resources to establish or enhance the necessary linkages between early childhood education and schools, including community schools, in which there are comprehensive services and supports addressing early learning and care focusing on the linkage/transition between early childhood and the early grades, health (physical and mental), social services, expanded learning, family and community engagement; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will call on Congress to secure new revenue streams to fund early childhood education to support:

  • Increased access for low-income and working-poor families who want to enroll their children;
  • Coordination with other federal and state early childhood education and care agencies to serve children not currently served by any other program (e.g., Child Care and Development Block Grant, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Head Start, Early Head Start, state prekindergarten, etc.) if their parents want to enroll them;
  • A separate, dedicated source of funding for early childhood education and care programs that is not part of Title I funding;
  • A formula that drives funds directly to districts/communities based on concentrations of disadvantaged students from birth through preschool programs;
  • Programs that encourage new and strengthen existing linkages between early childhood, preK–12 school systems and community partners;
  • Best practices information and technical assistance to states, local districts and schools to develop effective evaluative tools for ages 3 to 8; data systems to track the progress of children across P–3 years; and P–3 teachers' and elementary school principals' understanding and use of assessment data to make sound and appropriate instructional decisions;
  • Initiatives that improve linkages by addressing disconnected data collection on children and the workforce and the different sets of regulations and reporting requirements across federal funding streams;
  • Requirements that systems supported with federal dollars be universal, voluntary and available to every state and community; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will encourage all efforts to establish programs that fill any gaps so that all children have access; will discourage attempts to have public K–12 education supplant existing effective and high-quality early childhood education programs; and will discourage any attempts to redirect or supplant existing K–12 and higher education funding for early childhood programs; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will work with state legislatures and Congress to incentivize results-focused partnerships to leverage, align, integrate and consolidate early education and care program resources of LEAs, local government, higher education, nonprofit service providers and other community institutions; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will support and work to pass federal and state legislation to recognize parents as the first teachers of children by establishing paid parental leave programs and rewarding systems with a parent education component; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will champion early childhood educators and providers by welcoming all in this workforce into its union and by fighting for the right to self-organize and establish mechanisms to bargain collectively and work with higher education institutions to support a career path for early childhood educators to attain early childhood certificates (CDAs), associate and bachelor's degrees, and ongoing job-embedded training and professional development; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will advocate for continuity of high-quality curriculum, pedagogy and expectations across early childhood programs and the early grades and will work to establish the necessary vertical and horizontal alignment between staff that work across a system no matter where they deliver education and care; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will continue these efforts until every child in the United States, regardless of race, creed, gender, family income, religion or ethnicity, has the opportunity to voluntarily attend a high-quality childhood education program that is publicly financed and universally available at no private cost to all families.