The Early Childhood Federation of Teachers in Los Angeles celebrated Worthy Wage Day a little early this year, at the end of April. By the time the actual day rolled around on May 1, the awards, tributes and thanks for those who educate our littlest students had spread from members of Local 1475 at Pico Gardens Head Start to other locals in southern California and around the country, where AFT members sported buttons and T-shirts, as well as signing their names on colorful fabrics to make into quilts.
Local 1475 chapter chair Debbie Uribe, together with AFT members and the parent council committee, presented Head Start director Jaleh Hadian an award for her dedication to the children and her collaboration with parents and the union to ensure that the preschool's labor-management efforts succeed. When budget cuts loomed, Hadian joined union members at the forefront of a lobbying push to find funding. She also has stood with the local union to resist some of the more absurd regulations being imposed on early childhood programs.
The 3- to 5-year-olds at Pico Gardens, like children at so many Head Start programs, attend preschool near their homes in the Pico Gardens Projects, public housing in the poorest part of East Los Angeles. The Foundation for Early Childhood Education, the Head Start provider at Pico Gardens, serves 1,700 preschoolers and their families as a nonprofit organization providing child care to low-income families. Its services include a thoughtful and age-appropriate education and nutrition program. The foundation receives funds from the Los Angeles County Office of Education Head Start in the state preschool division. In addition, the California Department of Education provides funds for preschools statewide.
Early childhood educators in Los Angeles and other southern California cities, along with other child care providers and educators nationwide, took part in a variety of activities for Worthy Wage Day. Every May 1, we call attention to the importance of early childhood education and the dedication of those who care for our community's youngest citizens.
For a small brag book honoring our members—the early childhood educators and providers across the nation who make a difference in the lives of children every day—see our photo album on the AFT's Facebook page.
And as you start planning for next year's Worthy Wage Day, take advantage of the AFT's full page of resources for our local unions to raise awareness in their communities. [Annette Licitra, Esmie Grubbs]
May 4, 2012