Privileging Power: Early Childhood Educators, Teachers, and Racial Socialization in Full-Day Kindergarten

  • Zuhra Abawi Niagara University
Keywords: racialization, early childhood educators, Ontario certified teacher, full-day kindergarten


This paper critically unpacks the racialized and gendered hierarchies between the co-teaching model of early childhood educators (ECEs) and Ontario certified teachers (OCTs) in full-day kindergarten (FDK), and how such positionalities speak to racial socialization in early learning spaces. While young children and early learning spaces are often portrayed as raceless, ahistorical, and apolitical, extant literature suggests that children as young as two years of age are aware of visible and cultural differences between themselves and other groups. The paper employs a reconceptualist framework by drawing on critical race theory to explore
how racialized power relations between ECEs and teachers inform hierarchies of dominance and impact processes of racial socialization in FDK learning spaces. While both professions are predominantly feminized, the overwhelming majority of teachers in Ontario are white and middle class, whereas ECEs in FDK programs are more likely to be racialized and marginalized due to low wages and diminished professional status as care workers rather than educators. Although there has been great emphasis on the importance of diversifying the teacher workforce, there is minimal study on the impact of the hierarchies and racialized power relations between ECEs and OCTs and their impact on racial socialization in FDK programs. This conceptual paper seeks to address this gap.

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