Qualified early learning teachers are critically important to children’s later success. WE ARE NOT THE STEP CHILD TO THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM.
I have seen Early childhood education change more in the last five years than in the previous thirty. These changes and the issues that accompany them provide many opportunities for preschool teachers to become more professional. The policy makers are finally getting it (Yeah!); the skills we teach in our classrooms enable all children to learn the knowledge and skills necessary for success in school and life. Read the conclusion written by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment on the importance of preparing effective early care teachers.
Throughout the United States, many children are failing to real their full potential in school. But driven in part by what we have learned about early childhood development, the academic, business and policy communities now recognize that high-quality preschool programs are an important way to rectify this situation. And based on what the research has shown thus far, it appears that teacher preparation at the four-year college degree level is the best way to achieve such quality. We do need, however, to learn more about effective alternative pathways to teacher preparation, particularly to ensure linguistic and cultural diversity in preschool programs.
If we do indeed agree that early learning environments are critically important to children’s later success, then our goal must be to ensure that preschool programs can live up to the expectations placed on them. This is largely a question of resources and public will. We can set preschool teacher standards at the BA level, but unless we put together the resources to make educational opportunities available to current and prospective teachers, clarify what are the optimal characteristics of preschool teacher training, and compensation, teachers sufficiently to retain them in the field, the question of higher standards will remain an academic one, and preschool could continue to be a stepchild of our educational system.