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Editorial: UCLA child care center must address parents’ calls for change

By Editorial Board

Feb. 8, 2017 8:25 p.m.

UCLA apparently thinks pursuing a doctoral degree is a convincing explanation for the resignation of Jayanti Tambe, the executive director of its child care center. Considering Tambe’s tenure has been mired in controversy and negligence, the administration is going to need to do better – far better – explaining itself to parents.

It’s no secret that the UCLA Early Care and Education Center has faced a lot of disturbing challenges. Parents at the center have been upset with the leadership for over a year and a half, saying that the management has created a hostile environment that has contributed to high turnover rates and short staffing.

[Related: Parents find management issues at UCLA’s child care centers]

After already failing to fulfill its promises to parents and teachers disaffected by the child care center, the administration is on track to stumble over itself once more. If UCLA is really intent on solving the problems its center is facing, it needs to be forthright and transparent in its actions, not cautiously political.

Though Tambe’s resignation surely means progress in some parents’ eyes, the university has not made any steps to strengthen a broken relationship and distrustful environment that has been created at the center.

More than a year and a half after parents noticed problems with the center, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh recently held a town hall to hear their concerns. Waugh commissioned a task force to recommend improvements and promised a report by the end of January. He also told parents he spoke to state licensors to help address the center’s problems. But more than a week into February, parents have yet to receive the report or even an update about the investigation.

It’s clear that calls for the administration to act expediently have fallen on deaf ears. What the administration fails to realize, however, is that problems with the center will only persist so long as it doesn’t address them – despite how much it tries to shove them under the rug. For example, one anonymous mother and faculty member said that four more teachers have resigned since December.

[Editorial: UCLA child care must implement changes following complaints]

Given that the report has not been published yet and no action has been taken besides Tambe’s coincidental resignation, the university should move forward by addressing parental concerns promptly.

And parents’ demands are simple: remove ECE center leaders that are creating a negative environment and remove a select few teachers who parents have provided sufficient evidence to prove are unfit for the job.

Meanwhile, the university has been targeting teachers by unnecessarily interviewing and observing them, as well as taking notes in the back of classrooms – as if that will solve the center’s underlying concerns.

Even if the task force assigned to investigate the center releases their recommendations soon, the issue has already become stale. Parents will need more than vague promises of indirect solutions when they have clearly stated their demands early on. This means hiring a new director for the center who is well-versed in childhood education and the needs of children, and moreover being completely transparent to parents in the process.

The university needs to put teachers and parents first if they wish to maintain an institution that protects what its faculty values most – their children.

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