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In Pre-K Policy Love is Not Enough

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Lead from the Start: In Pre-K Policy Love is Not Enough

Friday, June 11, 2010

In Pre-K Policy Love is Not Enough

Sometimes love is enough.
There is something to be said for the value of caring for children. When a loving adult can provide the supportive environment that children need it provides a crucial service to society. Loving child care, gives parents piece of mind so that they can provide for their family's financial well being. When it comes to the private care children receive in homes of relatives and neighbors across the country this is enough.

And sometimes love is not enough.
When public funds are used to support the care and learning of pre-k children in states around the country, policy makers are looking for more than love. They are looking for results. Pre-K Now's recent report A Matter of Degrees: Preparing Teachers for the Pre-K Classroom has found some ways to ensure that those results are provided: through bachelors degrees and specialized training in early childhood. The combination of these two steps in ensuring the high quality pre-k experiences children need would go a long way towards providing the insurance policy leaders need to vote to fund public pre-k in their states. Increasing the requirements to become a public pre-k teacher is one way that states could make sure they are providing children with high quality early childhood experiences but, it will come with a price.

Even for a pre-k teacher.
It would be great if every pre-k teacher had a bachelor's degree but, in the current economy, a bachelor's degree is worth a lot more outside of the pre-k classroom than in one. Currently, pre-k teachers in center based settings around the country get paid less than mail carriers and about half as much as Kindergarten teachers. Turn over is high in pre-k settings, nearly four times that of K-12 teachers. The way some state policies are structured now, there is actually a disincentive for young people who love kids to stay in pre-k classrooms after they have earned a bachelors because they can earn so much more in the K-12 system. If a pre-k professional is passionate enough to go to school to become a specialist in early childhood education they need a reason to stay in the classroom once they have that degree and training. Working conditions and compensation are the to most important factors in keeping pre-k teachers with specialized training in front of pre-k children. The way the job market is now, love for kids and teaching is not enough to keep a great pre-k teacher in the classroom. If we really want to show what we value as a nation, that we love children, we would raise the requirements necessary to be a pre-k teacher and raise the level of compensation the position receives.



At 4:33 PM, Blogger Dagny32 said...

I completely agree with this. I am working at a place where we are always low on gloves, wipes, paper towels, etc. We have to hide our supplies from each other because they are so precious when we do have them. When we need to make copies, we need to bring our own paper because the paper cartridges are always empty. And then they expect us to get the paperwork done on time when we can't even make the copies we need (special needs pre-K is all about the paperwork). It is getting very frustrating, and I'm actually thinking of going somewhere else or looking for a different type of work. Why should I put up with the low pay and poor working conditions? I love the kids, but you're right, it's just not enough.


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