Moon Walking with Michael Jackson

by Chuck Allen, President - Twin Cities AEYC

What does Michael Jackson have to do with Early Child Education and Childcare? One would hope nothing! Unfortunately there is a darker side to this comparison. Michael Jackson is another man accused of molesting children. There seems to be an underlying fear by many members of our society that any man in ECE is potentially a threat to their child's health and safety. These beliefs seem to persist to some degree in all cultures and ethnic groups.

As an active member of the CAEYC Men in Education Committee, I am committed to changing these misguided concerns. When was the last time our local media has featured a male educator in a positive manner? There has been plenty of coverage in our local media about male counselors and educators being accused of abuse, so where's the other side of the story?

As a man in ECE, I have always been aware of the extra scrutiny I receive from my supervisors and parents. Through the years in the classroom, I have grown to expect and welcome this extra attention. Not only do my supervisors seem to visit my class more often than others, I usually have a larger number of parents volunteering during the first two or three months of the year. Once I have earned their confidence, the number of volunteers goes way down.

I have had the opportunity to talk with a wide variety of men, young and old, who are working with children across the state. The number one concern seems to be the "Michael Jackson" stigma. One has to be careful about too many hugs, letting children sit in your lap and in the Los Angeles area, even tickling a child on the arm with your beard can lead to write ups. In an attempt to protect themselves, many directors are now hesitant to hire a male, and if they do, their job descriptions are modified to exclude diaper changing etc.

So whats the answer? I would like to see exceptional men in the field recognized locally. We want to hear from you. If you know of an exceptional male in the ECE or child care field, please take the time to nominate him for our first annual "Down to Earth Good Guy Award."

For more information or to nominate someone, please contact me at (650) 790 0609 or chucka@syix.com