Don’t Make Excuses, Make Changes!

When my son was learning to play baseball, his coach’s mantra was, “Don’t make excuses, make changes!” This would be heard most often when the boys could not find their hat, their ball or their baseball pants, and it was always somebody else’s fault. As the boys on the team grew older and became more aware of their skills and abilities, they would make excuses about why they couldn’t hit the ball, or why they lost the game. Their coach’s mantra was never more relevant.

I have had to repeat this mantra myself when I start complaining about what “the state” is doing about early childhood in Ohio. While I believe in the goals and expectations that “the state” has for improving the quality of care for young children, I find myself complaining about the journey that it takes to get there. I find it so easy to complain when “the state” becomes this catch all category for all of the things that I do not have control over.

Last week, I decided to stop making excuses and make a change. I drove to Columbus for advocacy day. In the morning I was trained on how to advocate, and in the afternoon I actually engaged in advocacy work by speaking with our state representatives and senators. It was such a rewarding day to be able to speak passionately about early care and education and after-school care in Ohio. Our representatives and senators depend on our voice to inform them about crucial decisions that affect our state.

On this particular day, the legislature was meeting to vote on texting and wild animal laws. Are most senators and representatives experts on either of these topics? Probably not. They depend on police officers and wild animal experts to fill them in on the details so that they can make informed decisions when it comes time to vote. My role on that day was not to persuade them to vote a certain way, but to build a relationship with them so that they would consider me a resource when a vote is needed.

Advocacy work sounds a whole lot scarier than it actually is. It involves a lot of patience as you are at the mercy of the legislator’s schedules, but the 15 minutes that you can spend with them are very rewarding.

A few days ago a draft of the Early Childhood Birth-Kindergarten Entry Standards was made available for public comment. I jumped at the chance to read through and make my comments and suggestions. I was done making excuses, and you can be, too!

The draft standards and feedback survey are located here. On this site, you can access the introduction which explains the development process and organization of the standards, the draft standards in each domain and a link to the survey on which you can provide feedback. You can also access the survey directly here. Please review and submit your comments by May 31, 2012! Make your voice heard!