Local Examples of Worthy Wage Activities
The following are activities you may want to consider, gathered from Worthy Wage activists from around the country. Please send us your success stories and "lessons learned" so that they can be included in our annual update.
- Worthy Wage Day Activities: A Sampling
- Pennsylvania QUEST: Faces of Child Care Campaign
- Dane County, Wis.: Wage Hike
- New Hampshire: Child Care Workers Stage a Virtual Strike!
- Miami, Fla.: Worthy Wage Quilt
- Tired of Working for Peanuts
- In Los Angeles, the Head Start teachers of AFT Local 1475 gave a Children's Champion Award to Head Start director Jaleh Hadian for her work on the preschool's labor-management team.
- In Seattle, Mayor Mike McGinn issued a proclamation that honored the street parades of previous Worthy Wage Days and declared, "Much work remains to be done."
- Faculty at Cape Fear Community College (N.C.), Elgin Community College (Ill.), Cleveland State Community College (Ohio) and Northland Pioneer College (Ariz.) discussed wage issues with their early childhood education classes.
- In Lee, N.H., an early learning center humorously staged a "virtual strike," asking parents and their employers to consider the question: "If we were on strike today, what would you do?"
- A New Jersey family provider from Grow Up Great raised consciousness about Worthy Wage Day with this slogan, "Advertise it. Celebrate it. Talk about it to children."
- A center in Spearfish, S.D., rolled Worthy Wage Day into its Week of the Young Child activities.
- In Sonoma County, Calif., the Local Child Care Planning Council sent a mass Worthy Wage Day mailing through its child care Listserv and spread the word at Stand for Children Day in the state capital.
- The Head Start center in Great Falls, Mont., used Worthy Wage Day to recruit new staff to become active in the union.
- A center in Sterling Heights, Mich., served continental breakfast to staff and families.
- New York State United Teachers staff wore buttons to an Occupy Albany event.
- Washington Educators in Early Learning sponsored a forum for state Legislature candidates from five districts, where a standing-room-only crowd asked probing questions about candidates' commitments to early education and union organizing.
- The Minnesota Child Care Resource and Referral Network sent a Worthy Wage Day e-mail to state representatives and providers throughout the state.
- A center in Minden, La., set aside time for teachers to take a doughnut break.
- A Kansas center displayed a Worthy Wage Day flier for parents to see.
- A center director from Aliso Viejo, Calif., decorated a doll with Worthy Wage Day signs and placed it in the rear window of her car next to the message, "I am a registered voter!"
- A family provider at Kiddie Sittie Child Care in Indiana wrote letters to parents to educate them about Worthy Wage Day.
- In Bermuda, a center director staged "a picnic in the park, reading stories to the students and generally being in the view of the public."
- The Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health will feature Worthy Wage Day in an article about child care compensation for its 600 members.
And because the road to worthy wages is long, we were very happy to get this message from an early childhood teacher in Logan, Utah, who wrote: "No activities planned for now, but this gets me thinking."
Pennsylvania QUEST (Quality Early Education through Salaries and Training) in 2005 organized a "Faces of Child Care" campaign. QUEST provided a template to advocates in their network to use in collecting pictures and messages from children and families about the importance of quality early childhood education.
The images and messages were collected in a variety of ways, including asking the children to draw a picture of their face, or of their whole family; taking pictures of families at drop-off or pick-up times; asking families to bring in family photos; or having older children (as appropriate) draw the faces of their siblings and/or other children. QUEST collected nearly 10,000 pictures and drawings of children and families who rely on early childhood education services and delivered them to Pennsylvania's two senators and other key members of Congress.
QUEST is headquartered at the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC) in Philadelphia; also home to of one the coalition partners, the DVAEYC Worthy Wage campaign. For more information, go to www.paquest.org.
Dane County, Wis.: Wage Hike
The Dane County Worthy Wage task force in Madison, Wis., organized a "Wage Hike" in 2001 to coincide with their statewide early childhood conference. The hike was an actual walk from a designated downtown location to the conference site early on a fall morning, with participants arriving in time to hear the keynote address. Conference coordinators organized transportation to the hike's starting point for participants and transportation back to the starting point for parents and other community members who walked in support.
All hikers were encouraged to secure pledges for their walk, with a suggested donation for the 2 mile walk at $7.60, the average wage at the time of a child care teacher in Wisconsin. Hikers who secured at least three pledges were awarded a T-shirt. The hike was led by the City of Madison's mayor, Sue Bauman, and the local campaign earned more than $2,000 to help support activities of a newly created coalition to work on early childhood education issues.
At a previous conference, this group worked with conference coordinators to build a rainbow of footsteps, spanning a large window area at the conference site. This consisted of multi-colored 'footprints' on which conference participants were asked to write "a step they had taken or would pledge to take" to improve their work environment and/or their ability to give their best to children. A powerful display resulted.
New Hampshire: Child Care Workers Stage a Virtual Strike!
"Quick: What group of people would do the fastest job of bringing the economy to a halt if they didn't show up for work tomorrow morning? No, it's not the CEOs of all the multinational corporations. No, it's not your boss and supervisor. It's not even the President and Congress.
If you're a parent, you've already guessed it. You know who holds this country together on a daily basis. It's the
3 million or more under-recognized people who allow the rest of us to seek a livelihood -- and often don't earn a decent one themselves, even though they're helping to shape the lives of the next generation..."
So began an op-ed developed by the Center for the Child Care Workforce as part of our media strategy for Worthy Wage Day several years ago. Calls for a strike or national day of closure to dramatize the impact of our work and our demands for change are not new, but early childhood advocates in New Hampshire put a new twist on the idea: a virtual strike!
The virtual strike campaign was launched in October 2000 by the New Hampshire Child and Family Services. For four months the group spread the news and generated support and enthusiasm for a "virtual strike week," set for Jan. 21-26, 2001. Each day of the week was given a different focus: Employers Day, Parents Day, Legislators Day, Teachers Day and Kids Day. Events all around the state—large and small, individual and collective—marked the week, including the reading of the children's book When Katie Was Our Teacher (a story of turnover) at a luncheon with a mayor, a press conference, visits by local business leaders and state legislators to early childhood education programs, materials prepared for parents to give to employers and a public forum hosted by Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. Because this was a grassroots effort, the stories of what happened during virtual strike week continued to be collected from communities and programs around the state.
The week instantly became an instant media success. In the first three days, eight stories appeared in local newspapers, events were featured in TV newscasts and an hour-long TV show on early childhood issues was aired. Also, public radio picked up the stories and camera crews were out in force at centers around the state.
How about you—could you imagine a virtual strike in your community? For more information, contact Jack Lightfoot at the New Hampshire Child and Family Services' advocacy department, e-mail email@example.com.
Resource: When Katie Was Our Teacher/Cuando Katie Era Nuestra Maestra, by Amy Brandt, illustrated by Janice Le Porter, Spanish translation by Eida de la Vega. ©2000. Redleaf Press.
In 2008, Miami's Alliance for Early Care & Education collected handprints to display on their Worthy Wage Quilt. The quilt was nearly 100 feet long with approximately 1,500 child handprints and 600 parent endorsements. The handprints were displayed at the state capitol in Tallahassee to serve as a reminder that children are counting on all of us to improve the quality of early childhood education by investing in the people that nurture and care for them every day.
The Alliance for Early Care and Education is a nonprofit collaborative membership organization. For more information contact Linda Carmona-Sanchez at INFO@MYAECE.ORG.
Attendees of the AFT's early childhood education teacher summit in 2005 delivered a petition and bag of peanuts to all members of Congress to send a clear message to elected leaders that early childhood educators are woefully underpaid—in short, that they work for peanuts.
The AFT convened the summit of working activists from around the country to discuss their most pressing concerns and to consider ideas for further activism and advocacy.
For more information on the "Tired of Working for Peanuts" campaign or to learn more about other AFT early childhood education initiatives, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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