Take Care of the People Who Educate Our Youngest
the past weeks, I witnessed a small miracle. I watched a
group of individuals, many who did not know each other, band
together and give life to labor’s credo, “in numbers,
there is strength; individually we are nothing, together,
we are strong.” I watched these hard-working, dedicated
educators and care-givers take on City Hall. And I saw their
Two days into our strike,
the mayor’s office
reached out to us with an offer. True, it was not the offer
we hoped for, but it is a start. And even as you read this,
we may finally be negotiating a contract for our day care members.
I am so proud of our day care directors and assistant
directors. They waited patiently these three years. And when
it looked like there would be no change to the status quo,
action, walking off the job arm-in-arm with their fellow union
members in DC 1707—the day care teachers, custodians,
cafeteria employees and others.
Mayor Bloomberg cannot
possibly understand what it took for these day care leaders
to walk off their jobs. He has not heard them say to me, “These children, these
families depend upon me. How can I do this?” He cannot
understand what it is to feel as if you have turned your back
on the people you care about and take care of. He cannot possibly
understand the sense of community at these day care centers,
the sense of mission that our day care employees have.
Our day care centers had immeasurable support
from parents, the very people who suffered the most from the
strike. Those parents came out in droves for their day care
centers, their teachers and directors. They walked miles. They
wrote letters. They gave interviews in the newspapers and on
Day Care Directors
and Assistant Directors work in day care centers because
they want to, not because they have no choice. They are certified
teachers, many with supervisory certification and could easily
make more money in elementary schools.
But they stay at day
care centers. They are dedicated to educating and caring
for the youngest members of our city, providing the support
many of our working families need. Without city-subsidized,
affordable day care centers, many of our city’s
residents, these parents would be unable to work, to attend
school, to pay taxes, to be effective members of our city.
Our day care members are just as necessary to
the life of this city as our firefighters and our police. Surely,
educating our youngest children as well as providing them with
a safe, friendly, happy environment during the day is at the
core of what we as a society value. These centers provide these
children with the keys to success in elementary school, high
school, college and the job market.
I am so proud to know these day care people. Few
can possibly understand the great sacrifice they have made.
I want to thank them for their support during this strike.
I want them to know that what they did took sheer guts, courage
and a belief in their own convictions. And I want to congratulate
them for bringing City Hall to the negotiating table.#
Jill Levy is President, Council of School Supervisors