Dear Christina and Calvin,
We write with great urgency regarding the plan to hand significant management control of the ECEP over to Bright Horizons. It is our understanding that the contract with Bright Horizons is to be signed early this week, before the Thanksgiving Break. It is also our understanding that the Faculty Welfare Committee will be meeting with LeNorman Strong’s representative tomorrow (Monday) to discuss this.
As you know, many faculty — some but not all of whom are current or former parents in the ECEP system — have been deeply distressed by the lack of consultation regarding this plan and the rushed way it is being handled. This program is profoundly important for campus research into early childhood education and child welfare issues as well as to the graduate student and faculty parents whose toddlers attend it. We understand that administrative irregularities at ECEP need to be resolved, but, given that the job of resolving these is being handed over to a company that itself has been charged with committing irregularities at its childcare programs at Cornell and at NSF, greater consultation and transparency with the current parents, at the very least, seems warranted.
We ask you, as the Chair of the Faculty Senate and as the Chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee, to insist that the Administration slow down the process of signing the contract with Bright Horizons until at least Dec. 1, in order to give representatives from the Senate Welfare Committee, the Berkeley Faculty Association, the Association of Academic Women, and parents the opportunity to review the contract, and make modifications in the terms of the contract, if deemed necessary to protect the university’s interest in ensuring that Bright Horizons carries out its obligations in an appropriate manner. Nothing in the contract should prevent the university from engaging in a well-publicized search for other managers or management entities when the initial term of the contract expires.
In addition, these representatives should be allowed to comment on / make suggestions on the University’s exit options, i.e. the conditions under which the University can terminate the contract early, should parents feel BH’s involvement with the program is negatively affecting the care of their children, or faculty conclude it is harming their ability to carry out their research, or BH fails to quickly solve the administrative problems.
For the longer term, many concerned faculty members believe that ECEP does not belong in RSSP, but would be better served by the Faculty Equity and Welfare Office. This office has already been responsible for introducing new family friendly polices for faculty and for monitoring those that are already on the books. We believe that they will be seen as trusted partners by faculty parents, graduate student parents, and the Senate Welfare Committee. Members of the AAW and the BFA are willing to work with you to set in place procedures for better decision-making and communicating these decisions to concerned faculty members in the future.
Isha Ray and Kate O’Neill, President and Vice-President, Association of Academic Women
Louise Fortmann and Christine Rosen, Chair and Vice Chair, Berkeley Faculty Association