Cedar Rapids, IA–– SenatorChris Dodd became the third presidential candidate to “walk a day in theshoes” of an SEIU member today. He began before 7 am by having breakfast with Head Start teacher Colleen Mehaffey and her family. After breakfast, he accompanied Mehaffey to her work and spent time assisting her with classroom activities including reading, writing, and painting for a dozen three and four year olds.
As a Head Start teacher for more than 25 years, Mehaffey has a deep commitment to her work. But she worries that there won’t be enough teachers ready to take her place when it’s time for her to retire, unless Head Start gets the resources it needs from Washington. “It’s so important to our community that we attract the best teachers possible,”said Mehaffey.
In addition to teaching, Colleen and her co-workers often have to clean bathrooms, kitchens and other facilities at the school because of limited resources. “Our next president needs to have a plan to ensure that Head Start has the resources to help put our children on a path to success, not just here in Iowa, but in every state.”
Mehaffey plans to caucus in January and in the past has led her precinct caucus. Along with her fellow SEIU members, she’s been getting to know the presidential candidates on the campaign trail and will base her choice for president on their commitment to improving the country’s education system.
SEIU members are urging all presidential candidates,Democrats and Republicans, to experience first hand what their lives are like and Walk A Day In Our Shoes. To date, Senator Edwards and Governor Richardson have walked in the shoes of SEIU members, and Senators Biden,Clinton and Obama, as well as Governor Huckabee, have also agreed to participate by the end of the summer.
Footage of Dodd working with Mehaffey, in addition to photos and videos of SEIU members with the candidates on the campaign trail, can be found at www.WalkADayInMyShoes2008.com.