[Note: This is a letter from Kitt Cox, Program Coordinator for Birth to Three in Massachusetts to the Diversity Officer in Masschusetts.]
I’m writing to you to express concerns I hold regarding the diversity of the Massachusetts early education and care (EEC) workforce.
After previous experience in California and Vermont, I came to Massachusetts and began working as a preschool and kindergarten teacher in 1981. Over the following decades, my resume broadened to include work in music education, administration, training & professional development, community organizing, family support, and advocacy. Currently, I am a program coordinator for the Massachusetts Family Network (MFN), an active member of the Children’s Music Network (CMN), and a (2006) Schott Fellow. I am also one of the relatively few men in our state’s EEC workforce.When I undertook the responsibility of coordinating one of the 42 MFNs in 2002, I was the only male serving in such a position. Since then, we’ve doubled that number(!), with Matt LiPuma heading up the Boston Family Network. This disparity in male colleagues has run consistently through my career.
As you know, outreach and collaboration are central to the work of MFNs. In my new position, I endeavored to learn as much as I could about the vast array of services offering family support. In my, research, I stumbled upon an organization dedicated to supporting males in EEC, and to building their presence in the workforce.
I was astonished, gratified and inspired when I found MenTeach https://www.menteach.org/ . “There are other guys out there like me, we have something to offer, and there should be more men doing this crucial work”, I found myself thinking. This task should not be seen as “a men’s issue,” but rather as an opportunity to optimize young children’s positive early learning experiences.
We have come to realize the importance of having a high quality workforce that reflects the diversity of the population it serves. When the Department of Early Education and Care was created, such diversity was specifically called for in its founding legislation. Unfortunately, when it comes to recognizing and addressing the gender diversity of that workforce, we have been woefully neglectful. I understand what busy times these are at EEC, and that there are multiple demands from many quarters. Still, I hope you can spend some time exploring the resources offered through the MenTeach website. It offers, data, analysis, strategies and inspiring stories from “a few (other) good men”. We also need not look much further than the civil rights movement or recent feminist struggles for ideas of how to engage in a fundamental change in the balance of our workforce.
“If a woman can drive a tank in Baghdad, why can’t a man change a diaper in Boston?”
I look forward to having a chance to discuss this further with you. I’ve cc’d this to Bryan Nelson of MenTeach and Valora Washington of the Schott Foundation, two colleagues who share my interest in examing the role of men in the development of young children. I would invite their comments as well. Thanks to you, Donna Marie and EEC for taking an interest in this matter.
Mr. Kitt Cox
Birth To Three Family Center
15 Market Street
Ipswich, MA 01938