10/20/2006

What To Do About Universal Pre-K?

One of the big problems with the universal preschool thing that's going around is that few of the folks touting it to get elected know or care anything about the implementation challenges, and few of those aedvocates who know better are willing or able to risk losing their big chance at expanding coverage by saying, 'hey, wait a second..."

How do you make universal preschool any good if so many preK teachers remain woefully under-educated and underpaid? One possible answer mentioned in this Slate magazine article (Do preschool teachers need college degrees?) is to "fold preschool into the existing public-education system, as New Jersey has done." Well, it's an answer if you don't mind everything that comes from enlarging the current public school system. But rolling out low-quality preschool initiatives isn't the answer, either.

2 Comments:

Blogger Margaret Paynich said...

I am relatively new to this whole discussion, I can tell because I didn't know so many PreK teachers and some Kindergarten or other elementary school teachers didn't have degree. I am currently planning to go back to RI and teach at the elementary ed level and I plan to get a Master's in Elementary ed. Maybe it's because I was fortunate to attend a 4 year university and will graduate this winter but i think i would be an advocate for at least an undergraduate degree.
I agree that some of the elements that make great teachers, such as passion, attentiveness, huging, caring and reaching children can not be taught, but I still want to make sure that I am as educated as I can possibly be so that I can offer my students everything possible.
I have heard many times that the undergrad degree is often more of a learning process and less of a degree holder, meaning it doesn't matter what your degree is in, it matters that you went. I think this perspective is important for any teacher - learning how to think in more ways and the undergrad experience. Especially since our high schools apparently aren't producing our preferred results.

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Richard Lee Colvin said...

The warmth and supportiveness that the Slate article associates with college-educated preschool teachers does more than make preschoolers feel good. Ross Thompson, an expert in child development and learning at the University of California, Davis, stresses that for young children learning is a highly social activity. Teachers who can create warm, stimulating, happy interactions with their children are fostering their intellectual as well as their emotional growth. Such interactions must be created intentionally and purposefully. If teachers who have a college education are more likely to create those interactions, then it seems logical that states ought to create policies and budgets that makes sure the teachers have that background.

9:38 AM  

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