Susan Ochshorn posted the above-linked article on July 2nd on her blog titled ECE Policy Matters. Ochshorn is the founder and principal of ECE PolicyWorks LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in early care and education (ECE) policy research, program development, and project management. For more than 15 years, she has worked in a broad range of settings at the local, state, and national levels to bridge research, policy, and practice, and to integrate ECE into the larger education reform conversation.
In her article, Ochshorn tells us how excited she is that “millennial guys are bringing fresh voices to the table” in the discussion about family values and work-family balance, self-sufficiency, individualism, gender roles, and the function and responsibility of government. According to Ochshorn:
From Jonathan Cohen (“The Hell of American Day Care”) to Single Dad Dan, (“You Just Broke Your Child. Congratulations”), to Conor Williams (“Father, Manhood, and Having it All”), to the Fathers & Families Coalition, American males are stepping up to the plate, asserting their primacy in the project of raising the next generation.
Although women have been the “gatekeepers in the discussion” as much as they have been and, for the most part, continue to be, “in the project of raising” kids, Ochshorn also informs us that she sees us as “stuck in the rhetoric of second wave feminism,” which used such phrases as the “War on Women” and “Mommy Wars” to “polarize and narrow the discussion.” In the process, women have been pitted against other women, such as when we set single, less advantaged mothers against the highest ten percent of wage earners or against the stay-at-home moms who holds the parental reins to the occasional exclusion of fathers or other primary caregivers.
Ochshorn gives us Conor Williams’ ideas for the solution to the problem just as I did in my blog yesterday. However, in addition to Williams’ three-point agenda of 1) flexible work schedules for parents, better, 2) more flexible maternity leave policies that expand and encourage paternity leave, and 3) expansion of public child care and preschool options that support parent’s return to work, Ochshorn says she’d “push Conor a bit, beyond employer-sponsored paid leave, which doesn’t address the needs of low-income parents.”
On the eve of Independence Day, this discussion matters to all of us as Americans. Mothers, fathers, grandparents or other caregivers to infants and toddlers certainly need to fight for better structures and policies for more flexible work schedules, paid leave after the birth of a child, or better options for public child care and preschool, since the research is there that tells us quality care for best early learning in 0-3 year olds will lead to success in school and life. Those of us with older children, especially those of us with daughters and sons who are teenagers or young adults, need to speak up for these kids’ future as parents and care providers. Since it takes so long to get new and improved structures and policies in place in companies and in the government, this is the age group of Americans who really stand to benefit from our push now for results that may take 5, 10 or more years to come to fruition. Finally, even those of us with adult children who may or may not be raising children at this time need to get involved in the discussion. Of all the generations, the baby boomers certainly have much to share with us in terms of how to fight for what is right since they fought for civil rights and women’s rights. If we all join together as Americans, we can make the current discussion about raising the next generation of American students and citizens a powerful and comprehensive one with solutions for all, regardless of race, gender, socio-economic level or family background.