I knew I had to leave when an administrator at my TO’s day care said, “Kids don’t see color.”
New data from ChildCare Aware, a national organization that tracks day care costs, indicate that in my state, the yearly cost of child care for an infant is pretty close to a mortgage payment and exceeds the annual cost of in-state tuition within our university system. Yes, day care costs more than houses and college. Not only does this report give credence to what I already knew, but I’ve got receipts.
Most reporting on the accessibility of high quality, affordable day care centers low-income families, which is critical given the cost of care. My experience begs a different question: Given the cost of day care and the investment families are making, how are Black children faring?
I tweeted about the new data:
Well-resourced, racially diverse childcare that prepare kids for school will cost parents some serious money. #Nerdland
— Jozie Scott (@JozieLocks) January 24, 2015
In my last post, I wrote about the struggles I have encountered with the lack of diversity in the curriculum at my Treasured One’s (TO) day care center. By curriculum, I mean the learning environment (the classroom itself, bulletin boards, flyers), the materials (e.g., books, dolls, toys), and the activities.
In this post, our struggle continues.
TO aged up to a new classroom. When I toured the new class, I noticed immediately that the room did not have any children of color on walls – none at all. No likeness to our brown faces. I mentioned it to the Director who was giving the tour, and she quickly explained it away. She assured me that the room was getting a new teacher who was going to put her own stamp on the room, and it would come together, quickly. Although worried, I allowed TO to move.
A few weeks went by before I raised the issue again. Her teacher assured me that she was aware of my concern and would pass it on to the Director. I understood that she was a new teacher, but I was anxious to see how diversity (i.e., differential racial representation) would be included in the classroom.
Here is what I was looking for:
- Racial diversity in the classroom: For me, this takes the form of photos on the walls, as well as other pictures, signs and others items that offer visual stimulation.
- Racial diversity in the learning materials: For me, this takes the form of books, dolls, puzzles and toys. In short, things children play with or manipulate as part of play-based learning.
- Cultural awareness in activities: Planned classroom activities that celebrate holidays across different cultures, where the responsibility does not rest with the family of the child from that culture.
- Inclusiveness: A sense that racial and family differences are welcome. Families look different. Not all families look the same.
After raising the issue one more time, I asked for a meeting of TO’s teachers and the center’s leadership team to share my concerns with all parties at the same time. I even created a PowerPoint with our county’s demographic data, the black dolls study and other research on the importance of racial inclusiveness in the classroom.
I was met with awkward silence followed by blank stares, before one of the administrators said, “We don’t teach race. Kids don’t see color.”
I thought, “Really?”
Shocked, I responded something like: I am not asking you to teach my toddler what it means to be Black in America. What I am asking you is to create a learning environment where she sees herself. Kids absolutely see color; they see that they are different. Kids don’t ascribe meaning to the differences they see. Racial socialization comes later.
In the weeks after that meeting, TO’s day care center did take some small steps. They ordered a few books, put a few stock photos on the wall, but I knew despite my comfort with the teachers, we had to leave.
Read the beginning of my story –> Dollies and Mommies: Racial Diversity in Day Care Settings