As an early childhood professional, I believe that classism is something that I have faced in my profession as well as my life. For most of my career in this field, I have had a lack of insurance coverage, low wages, and many times felt that people did not understand the importance of the role I have in the life of children that I work with. As a matter of fact, more than once I have been referred to as a babysitter. And honestly, most families do not realize that I am educated and am working towards my Master’s degree.
How does this effect the work that I do with children? I feel that I have come to accept the fact that I may never be paid wages that reflect my education, I love the work that I do and I feel that I do the best I can ever day in making connections and building relationships with the children and families that I work with. But it is also hard due to high staff turnover, because as a teacher I am always working with new people, and the children also have to re-adjust to new teachers.
I feel fortunate that most of the families I work with now do apricate the work that I do with their children. They understand that I am more of a baby sitter, but this has also been made possible because of parent education as well as a level of professionalism that I try to show parents. I feel that the issue of classism in the early childhood field is connected to many of the issues within our field. Advocacy and parent information do help, but I would love to see where early childhood professionals are treated like teachers who work in 4-12 public school programs.