Aug 31, 2020
As we navigate extraordinary challenges, from COVID19 to the implosion of our economy, we can see which of us are truly essential workers. We rely on doctors, nurses, mail carriers and grocery store workers, but do we recognize those whose labor literally sustains us? Farmworkers, working 12-14 hours a day, often in unsafe conditions, harvest the strawberries, blueberries, lettuce and other crops that, if we are fortunate, grace our tables. Many are immigrants who have been targeted by a relentlessly hostile administration. And they are parents who want their children to thrive. As executive director of the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association (NMSHSA), Cleofas Rodriguez is tasked with a responsibility that he embraces. NMSHSA connects families that move 3 times a year to harvest crops to providers of early childhood education. These teachers and administrators are often former farmworkers themselves who understand the needs of the community. As Cleo explains, farmworkers are a skilled workforce; they are parents and they are not included in congressional relief bills. But they should be.