OLÉ began organizing working New Mexicans in 2010, developing activists and leaders with the capacity to analyze the state’s systemic barriers to family economic security and developing campaigns to eliminate these barriers. Much of our work has focused on workers’ rights, such as passing an Albuquerque minimum wage initiative in 2012 and strengthening immigration rights. A central component of OLÉ’s work is organizing parents through its Working Parents Association (WPA) to increase access to high quality Early Childhood Education.
OLÉ has over 4,500 parent members throughout the state. A key element of the WPA’s strategy is the partnership it has developed with the American Federation of Teachers called PEOPLE for the Kids, which includes early educators who belong to AFT and an association of early learning center owners, the Quality Early Learning Association (QELA), which is also part of OLÉ. Through this partnership, OLÉ and AFT members manage a united front of the primary stakeholders in early childhood education, coordinating organizing, leadership development, and reform campaigns. The partnership ensures that stakeholders cannot be pitted against each other, so that parents who seek funding to expand access to Early Childhood Education are not undercutting efforts by early educators to improve working conditions, benefits, and pay for staff. All parties want to transform the industry’s low-wage/low skill workforce into middle-class professionals with increased resources for wages, benefits, and professional development. The partnership believes that in recognizing and privileging the voices of parents, in particular, it is empowering a vast constituency that has the potential, if organized effectively, to eliminate racist and sexist systems that have kept Early Childhood Education policy from advancing. All three memberships are working together to advance their shared goal of high quality, accessible early childhood education.