On August 23, Acelero Learning’s Strong Start Academy at Lorenzi in Las Vegas hosted a roundtable discussion convened by U.S. Representative Steven Horsford (NV, 4th District) with special guest Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and included Dr. Michael Maxwell, Vice President Acelero Learning Clark County; Tameka Henry, Board Chair Acelero Learning Clark County; and Ashley Dines, Acelero Policy Committee Chairperson, along with other local leaders. Speaker Pelosi identified Acelero Learning Head Start as a fitting site for this discussion, because “Acelero is a model to the nation, a great example of how to meet the needs of children in a way that’s culturally appropriate and gives them self-esteem as they go forward.”
Panelists discussed barriers to women in the workplace, including the pay gap and lack of affordable early childhood education, particularly for women of color. They also presented possible solutions, ranging from universal pre-K to ensuring living wages for early childhood educators, 90% of whom are women.
“There’s no better investment than education for the American people. Early childhood education, K-12, higher education, post graduate, and lifetime learning for our workers. It isn’t spending, it’s investing,” Speaker Pelosi said.
Ashley Dines, whose two children attended Acelero Learning schools, serves as chair of the Acelero Policy Committee. “It was really nice to know that people who run the country understand the challenges of working women,” Dines said. According to Dines, without extended day care at the school, she would not have been able to work.
“Acelero has changed the trajectory of my family’s life. Access to high quality education is extremely important to me,” said Dines. “As a working mother, you want your child to go to a quality school and provide for them, but that’s challenging when you can’t afford to provide something that all families deserve.”
Dr. Maxwell expressed the need for the federal government to sustain the funds provided by Congress during the pandemic to help the child care industry. “It is necessary for us to raise salaries within the workforce. It is necessary for us to increase access to childcare and early learning,” Maxwell said. “And then ultimately, it’s necessary for us to support women – period.”
After the roundtable, Speaker Pelosi, Representative Horsford and other panelists visited a classroom at the Acelero Learning birth-to-five preschool and reiterated their commitment to Head Start and early childhood education.
“I was raised by a single mother – along with my siblings. When my father was killed – as a result of gun violence here in Las Vegas – I had to step up and help my mother keep a roof over our heads. My mother worked, and I worked, and together we made it work for all of us,” said Congressman Horsford. “Head Start programs like this one here at Acelero are a lifeline to so many working women, and an important part of the foundation our children need to succeed.”
“We appreciate Speaker Pelosi and Representative Horsford for their commitment to early childhood education and for recognizing the importance of living wages. It means so much to our families, staff, and community when our elected officials take the time to speak with and visit with the people most directly affected by the work they do in Washington,” said Henry Wilde, Acelero Learning CEO.