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Early Childhood Sector

A number of studies have found that young children in classrooms led by early educators with BA degrees and training in early childhood demonstrate better outcomes than children in classrooms led by teachers with less education and training. Now, in a new brief from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), Marcy Whitebook and Sharon Ryan urge a more complex and nuanced look at the ingredients of early educator preparation.

“To realize a new vision for young children – highlighting the importance of nurturing, structured, age-appropriate early education as a solid foundation for lifelong learning – requires connecting what we expect in terms of teacher competencies and education qualifications with the quality of the environments in which teachers live, learn, and work…. Higher educational qualifications and more professional development to improve performance have been largely decoupled from attention to the work environment or the pay of teachers, issues too often viewed as secondary to addressing the needs of young children.”  Whitebook and Ryan write in “Degrees in Context: Asking the Right Questions about Preparing Skilled and Effective Teachers of Young Children.”

The Early Education for All Campaign advocates for the creation of a statewide system to improve the training, education and compensation of the early childhood. EEA plays a critical role in establishing the Early Childhood Educators Scholarship and Universal Pre-Kindergarten programs for high quality early childhood education.  Research shows that early educators education, training and compensation levels are the main determinants of the quality of early learning settings, which has a direct and positive effective on children’s healthy development.

In the fall of 2010,  the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children partnered with Boston Equip to conduct a statewide survey about the experiences of early educators with student loans and the impact of those experiences on their pursuit of higher education.  The statewide survey findings are nearly one-third (31%) of all survey respondents reported enrollment in classes and/or a degree program at the time of the survey.  More than half of all respondents (52%) reported that they were not currently in school but had plans or desires to pursue more education.

Developing Early Childhood Educators (DECE)

We need to bridge the education and skills gaps of our region’s early education workforce in order to meet increasingly challenging skill qualification demands on the industry.  This project, called “Developing Early Childhood Educators” (DECE), seeks to align local stakeholders to develop a consistent, clearly articulated, well integrated, universal and comprehensive system for early childhood educators to access, afford and attain industry recognized credentials.  This will be accomplished by creating a career lattice, training structure and wage enhancing vehicles that elevate the work of the profession from a job to a career at all levels, through multiple points of entry, especially for women, minorities, non-English speaking, and economically disadvantaged candidates. We will build upon current pilot projects by bringing them to scale and align efforts that are not currently well coordinated, so that we can develop industry-wide solutions.  Clearly, having a better educated Pre-K workforce means higher-quality instruction and a better learning environment for the children in the programs, resulting in a better-educated workforce for tomorrow.

See presentation Link to the right for a downloadable overview of the DECE initiative.