Power to the Profession’s Alignment with State Systems | Policy [M]atters, Season 3, Episode 3

by Teri Talan, Senior Policy Advisor

Policy Matters is a quarterly video chat series between Teri Talan, Senior Policy Advisor at the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership, and a thought leader in early childhood policy. Our guest author for Season 3 is Marica Cox Mitchell, the Deputy Executive Director for Early Learning Systems for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Want to catch up or revisit the series? Explore previous chats and topics here.

Welcome to Policy Matters, Season 3, Episode 3.

In episode 3, Teri and Marica explore NAEYC’s “Power to the Profession” initiative and how it aligns with state professional development systems.

Previous topics of this season included an introduction to Power to the Profession (Episode 1) and compensation (Episode 2).

Come join this conversation at Leadership Connections™ National Conference. Power to the Profession will be the focus of the Public Policy Forum “Program Leaders: Part of the ECE Profession or Valued Allies?” from 8:00 am – 10:00 am on  Friday, May 11, 2018. Marica will provide an overview of Power to the Profession, review the scope of stakeholder engagement, and share the decisions made to date. Panel respondents, wearing their program leadership lenses, will be: Teri; Sherry Cleary, Executive Director of the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute at CUNY; and Anne Douglass, Executive Director of the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation at University of Massachusetts Boston.


VOICEOVER: Welcome to Policy [M]atters Season 3, Episode 3. Policy [M]atters is a video chat series between Teri Talan of the McCormick Center, and a guest thought leader in early childhood policy.

Our guest for this season is Marica Cox Mitchell, Deputy Executive Director for Early Learning Systems from NAEYC, the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

In episode 3, Marica and Teri explore how Power to the Profession aligns with state systems.

TERI: Good morning, this is Teri Talan with Marica Cox Mitchell and we’re just excited to be here for the third session of the policy video chat having to do with Power to the Profession. So this is our third in the series, our first policy chat which is still available online, introduced the topic of Power to the Profession, our second policy chat focused on compensation issues, and this, our third policy chat, is going to focus on how Power to the Profession engages, works with, supports the work of state professional development systems.

So I just want to ask Marica to get us started about how have the state professional development systems, and system leaders been engaged to date in the Power to the Profession?

MARICA: Sure, first just want to say thank you for providing this opportunity for us to have these open conversations, and pretty much model what we want others to do in the field. Power to the Profession is an opportunity for us as early childhood educators to define the profession in our own terms, and to do that we need to have some really open frank conversations. And you’ve provided many opportunities for us to do so. Power to the Profession has involved state leaders, state policymakers, in multiple ways.

One is first we have NAEYC affiliates engage in this work, ensuring that they are building relationships, looking at the lessons learned they have from their perspective, to inform decisions we’re making at a national level. We have the McCormick Center, National Governors Association, and others serving as part of the Power to the Profession stakeholders group. And that group is informing Power to the Profession, and making sure that Power to the Profession is also elevated in conversations with state.

National Registry Alliance is a good example of a system that is currently focused on workforce development in states. And so we have provided multiple opportunities at the national level as well as the state and local levels to ensure that the decisions we are making certainly aligns with what works best, but also noting that we ask for change if we too are unwilling to change. And that Power to the Profession as the decisions are being made, are forcing us all including in NAEYC, to look in the mirror and say what can you do better and what can you change?

TERI: Yeah thank you, I think I mentioned in our last policy chat that I had the opportunity to lead a discussion about Power to the Profession at our steering committee of the professional development system for early childhood in Illinois. It’s been a really interesting experience because people who had varying levels of knowledge and involvement in Power to the Profession, many people had responded to the decision cycle inquiries as individuals, and yet we really hadn’t thought deeply about it from the representation of the system itself. And so a couple things have happened, and I bring this up because I think it’s kind of a model for how things might happen, or should happen in other states. Is that we’ve had… the first place of impact in doing this was that we wanted our strategic plan to be proactive about being involved in the process. And so we’ve always had a committee that had to do with being kept apprised of trends in the field, but this time in our strategic planning process, that just happened to coincide with Power to the Profession’s discussion that we started having at the state PDAC level (Professional Development Advisory Council), was that we want to be proactive in not just being aware of trends, but helping to shape the direction.

So I think a really positive thing that has come out of this is that we are going to continue meeting with those who are interested and formulate a response from the state perspective, and share that with Power to the Profession, you, and others in that professional development system way. And it made me realize that there’s different perspectives depending what hat you wear, and I can speak to that personally from the point of view that I’ve responded to each of the decision cycles. Both as an individual, also representing the McCormick Center, but I hadn’t really represented the broader state system perspective. So that’s why I asked you about how state PD systems are involved, because I think it’s really important that they are a part of the decision-making and iterative process that you’ve designed for power to the profession.

MARICA: Yeah, absolutely, and we recognize that there is good work done in the field that in this measure to advance as a unified profession, we’ll certainly build on what works well, and state PD systems have had some really great lessons learned, and share with us where they feel the gaps were and also point to where we need to focus to improve the workforce.

So we are definitely using their perspective, and yes, some have responded as a collective, others asked on individuals. And this is an all-hands-on-deck moment and so all perspectives are welcomed in the task force including NAEYC will be looking at all perspective to make the unifying definitions for the profession.

TERI: You know one of the things that came to light, as we were talking in a follow-up session around Power to the Profession, was the issue about the nomenclature, and I’m wondering, you know, if this is something that you’ve had feedback from other state systems; that the idea of everyone being an educator, even though at different levels 1, 2, & 3 was a little like how our field got started where everyone was called a teacher regardless of their preparation.

So I know that that is an issue that was hotly discussed at a meeting we had earlier in the week and I’m wondering: How has that decision been received, or that proposal, or early educator 1, 2, & 3?

MARICA: So we’re in the middle of that process right now. The first draft was released by the task force and we’re seeking input on that first draft. So we’re still going through the initial quantitative, as well as qualitative feedback. I could just share some of the feedback we’re hearing more from the qualitative side.

It’s about making sure that each level has clear responsibilities, being very open about where those responsibilities overlap, but at the same time being clear about where the boundaries exist within the scope of practice, both for the education level as well as the preparation programs. So particularly level 2, the distinction between level 2 & 3, as articulated in the first draft of decision cycles 3, 4, & 5, is where we’re having more conversations.

TERI: Okay, okay, yeah, and here’s where I might get a little provocative, because this was a thought that occurred to me from the conversations that I’ve been a part of.

Which I’m just thrilled, I mean, because that’s what we want. We want everyone to really be connected, and participate, and hear, and feel like they’re their heard, they’re engaged, and that’s definitely happened with the state team work in Illinois.

But one of the things that I was struck by is most of the professional development system work at the state level career lattices, have really gone along the route of numbers 1, 2, 3, maybe you know more than 1, 2, 3, and have not really distinguished those levels by roles.

And yet, what I was hearing from my colleagues is that they want Power to the Profession to do that. So it’s kind of like an interesting thing to me because I’m like all about how do we align, how do we make sure that we’re connected, where do we see our state system relative to this national work? But in some ways, it’s like this hard piece about distinguishing preparation and qualifications related to responsibilities and roles, should come at the national level.

And so, it’s that balancing act, that I’m just so aware is at the heart of some of these struggles around nomenclature and leveling. But I just I thought it was just really interesting, because what I was hearing was this desire for NAEYC or Power to the Profession to make that move to being really clear in terms of the nomenclature, that goes along with those different competencies, and different scope of responsibility.

MARICA: Absolutely, and so in this, again this is just the first draft, because nomenclature means so many different things in so many communities, as it’s currently used. The task force decided to stay with the ECE 1, ECE 2, ECE 3 label, and be relatively agnostic right now.

They may decide to rethink that strategy, I think, as they get more feedback from the public. But for this moment in time, using existing labels would derail the process, and not have our experts in the field look at what’s behind those labels, which is really the depth of the preparation as is release of the competencies as well as the responsibilities.

TERI: Well thank you Marica, and I’m sure that people who are tuning into this video chat need to know that it’s an open process. That nothing is written in stone yet, and hearing you say that things are open for revisiting I think is a really important message.

So I thank you for that openness and encourage people to get involved and to embrace these issues, not just as individuals but within the workforce development work that they may be engaged in at their state. Bring these issues forward, get some collective responses to be shared with from that collective perspective as well.

MARICA: Absolutely, and just say something else about some career lattices as they exist today, in connection to the leveling of the first draft. I think it’s also important to point out that it also lays the foundation for compensation. That what we also see in career lattices is not only that the levels don’t indicate distinct scope of practices, we also see that there is known correlation with compensation.

And so another benefit of being very clear about the depth of preparation, as well as the responsibilities, is it also then justifies and makes a stronger case for compensation. So the compensation will be aligned to the responsibilities of the individual, as well as a depth of the preparation.

TERI: And the competencies of the individual.

MARICA: Absolutely, absolutely.

TERI: Good to know, all right.

I want to encourage folks who are following our policy chats to attend Leadership Connections, because Marica will be back, and we will be having a Public Policy Forum at Leadership Connections on May 11th, and the focus of that session will be looking at the role of program leaders in relation to Power to the Profession. So stay tuned for the next chapter in-person and come to Leadership Connections to ask your questions of Marica and others head on.

So thank you very much Marica, for participating in this series and I look forward to our continued work together supporting and empowering the profession.

MARICA: Absolutely, thanks Teri for this opportunity.

VOICEOVER: Thanks to Marica for joining us and thanks to you for watching. Join the conversation with Teri and Marica in-person at Leadership Connections National Conference.

In the meantime, what questions do you have about Power to the Profession? Tell us in the comment section below. Until next time!


Dr. Teri Talan is Michael W. Louis Chair and Senior Policy Advisor at the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership and Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at National Louis University. She is co-author of the Program Administration Scale (PAS), Business Administration Scale for Family Child Care (BAS), Escala de Evaluación de la Administración de Negocios, and Who’s Caring for the Kids? The Status of the Early Childhood Workforce in Illinois.

Marica Cox Mitchell is responsible for NAEYC’s major program efforts in early childhood program and higher education accreditation. She is also leading the alignment among and between our Center for Applied Research, accreditation, and higher education with early childhood and higher education systems across the country. Mitchell has been in the early childhood education field for more than 16 years and has worked in both administrative and classroom settings.