Keep LCC’s early childhood education program – The Register-Guard

I have been teaching early childhood classes for 22 years at Lane Community College, classes that will be cut if an administration budget proposal is approved. Each term I ask students to write a two- or three-page autobiography to introduce themselves to me and to state their goals for becoming an early childhood educator.

Every term I am profoundly struck by the kinds of experiences that students have had to go through to get to Lane to receive training for a job working with children.

Many students have come from homes where they experience domestic abuse and substance abuse. Many cared for their younger siblings, and even their parents, before they should have been given that responsibility. Many had to make their own way in order to survive. They were not supported or nurtured, but had to fend for themselves to make it through their daily lives.

When they decided to come to Lane to study about children, they wanted to make a difference in other children’s lives. They did not want their own experiences to be repeated in the lives of children that they want to care for and teach.

Students in LCC’s Early Childhood program have made a commitment to our community’s future. They want to learn how to respect children and how to guide them in a positive way so they grow up to be citizens who are emotionally healthy and socially secure. They hear about the overwhelming evidence from research showing that when children, especially from at-risk families, receive high-quality early childhood education, they will be less likely to be involved in crime and more likely to graduate from high school and college.

Students come into our child development center on campus and see an incredible environment where children are given opportunities to think critically from their beginning years, and they begin to think critically about better ways to teach and raise our young children. Lane is the place they come to change and transform their lives and the lives of the children they will teach.

Lane has always been a place for students to come to learn how to teach and work with young children. Many have never had a family member go to college, and many have never experienced the success and value that they feel when they complete the Early Childhood program and graduate.

Some are already working with children all day long but want to increase their professional development and pay, so they take our online classes and night classes. Some arrange for a substitute to come into their centers or homes so they can attend classes during the day. Many work tirelessly for years to finally receive their degree.

When they complete LCC’s Early Childhood Education program, they take their knowledge into this community to change the lives of our young children and their families for the better. They know that the field of early childhood education has often been overlooked in the past, and they commit to changing that perception by doing the job that they were trained for here at Lane. They are creating a more informed work force and helping stimulate demand for better qualified teachers of young children with better pay.

If the Early Childhood Education program at Lane is cut as proposed, these students and future students will have nowhere else to receive this local training. Students who want to transform their own lives and the lives of young children will not have the opportunity to do so in Lane County.

Are we willing to take away that important and necessary training from students who need it? And are we willing to accept the consequences of eliminating that training for the future generations of young children who will not be in a setting with a highly qualified teacher?

I certainly hope not — and I encourage citizens to write the LCC Board of Education and administration to ask that this valuable program not be taken away from our community. A board meeting for public comment will be at LCC from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Bev Hickey is an instructor in Lane Community College’s Early Childhood Education program.


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