Y’s Early Learning Team Brings Their Voice to National Conversations

January 24, 2019


Nilsa Ramirez, site director of the child center at the Rauner Family YMCA on the west side of Chicago, wrote a guest post for the national blog series Moving Beyond False Choices for Early Childhood Educators. The project, hosted by New America, a public policy think tank that focuses on a range of issues including education, health, gender and the economy, is an innovative effort to create a national conversation about the “thorny knot” that exists in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) community: the intertwining of teacher preparation and education, compensation and status, and diversity and inclusion. 
In her post titled “It’s all about social justice,” Nilsa shared her perspective as an ECE center administrator. She focused on the need to “untangle the knot” in our current education landscape by applying a social justice lens and ensuring that the authentic voices of teachers, administrators and families are fully included in conversations about policy and practice. Only then can we best serve children. “The ECE field should be investing in its diverse workforce as its strongest asset and embracing social justice as the glue to better advance the ECE system,” Nilsa said.
The Y's Early Learning Quality Initiative, the focus of a $1.4 million grant awarded to the YMCA of Metro Chicago by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, has enabled Nilsa and her Y colleagues to participate in peer-based learning communities (PLC) for the past two years. In the blog post, Nilsa described how she and her Y colleagues have participated in peer-based professional learning communities (PLCs) for the past two years. They have grown by learning to tackle personal bias and connect it to daily practice. “We’ve challenged our beliefs, discussed our personal biases, and importantly, connected these socio-cultural contexts to how our teaching and learning in ECE settings can be improved,” she explains. “Professionalizing early childhood educators goes hand-in-hand with how we as a field represent, understand, and internalize our individual voices and the voices of the children and families being served.”
Thank you to Nilsa, all of our site directors and teachers, for the work they do each day, ensuring that our early learning work takes on challenges and serves our communities well.