By “J”, a Child Care Center Director
For the safety and security of the children and to provide a “real” perspective on child care, “J” has chosen to remain anonymous….for now.
The name alone makes you think one thing: business. The majority of preschools, academies, daycares (call it what you see fit) is corporate run. Owned and operated by people who see numbers over anything. It’s a business. As a Center Director I had to learn that business is business no matter what the sign on the front of the building says.
My first few years I found myself in a conundrum. It was always educationally based and corporate disputed. New classroom supplies or stretch out the ones already in use? An educator’s decision is easy, purchase new supplies and don’t forget to order that $300 paint set – the students will love that! Corporate’s decision, add some water to the paint you have and 1/3 of the supplies needed will be approved. This job has taught me the reason why public education has to be free. The cost to run a small elementary school from front to back has to be in the millions. Imagine passing that along as a weekly bill to the parents? Monthly tuition increase to cover costs (ours are yearly) see how that goes over.
Labor also plays a major role in a corporate run business. Yes, I would love to let my teachers come in early to work on their room and lesson plans. Yes, I would love to have teachers stay late for one-on-ones and educational chats. Unfortunately overtime and corporate are the quintessential oil and water of childcare education. They don’t mix, they don’t mesh, and they don’t taste very well together. You can tell how the week is going if you’re going to get that call… “Hey ________, I was just looking over your labor and…”
Instead you beg them to sacrifice some of their lunch and have fireside chats in the hallway during bathroom breaks. Again, it’s just business. When addressing the corporate side of things to staff and parents, it’s like you are speaking about a giant who lives in the clouds. A giant who sends out e-mails daily about finances, changes, and the occasional birthday wish. This giant who can reach out with one phone call to fix things and quite honestly can also mess things up. I do my best to be a buffer. Yes. I often take shots from corporate because explaining business to educators is like explaining the Barclays Soccer point system to a toddler. It’s not that they don’t get it, it’s just not in their heart to understand that, well, it’s just business.
When Center Directors meet we usually joke about things only we can understand or find humor in. It’s always what corporate wants us to do next and what staff tried to pull what. I found in the long run and trust me, it’s a long run, as a Center Director you work for a business. An educational business, but a business none the less.