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For Immediate Release:
July 31, 2008
NAEYC Applauds Early Childhood Educator Provisions in Final Higher Education Bill
Enhancing affordability of higher education, raising the quality of preparation, increasing compensation, and creating state professional development systems
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)–The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is pleased that its recommendations recognizing early childhood educators as a critical teaching workforce are included in the bipartisan Higher Education Act conference bill. The House has passed the bill and the Senate is poised to vote later today. The bill will then go to the President for his signature.
Three new provisions will significantly enhance early childhood educators' access to higher education and compensation when they attain postsecondary degrees. The bill also provides grants to states to create comprehensive professional development systems.
“Every young child should have a high-quality teacher, and early childhood educators should be able to receive the education and compensation that will make it possible for them to remain in a child care, Head Start, Early Head Start or state pre-kindergarten program,” said Mark Ginsberg, Ph. D., Executive Director of NAEYC. “This is a positive step to begin to ensure that early childhood educators can afford higher education and remain in their chosen field and to improve the quality of teacher preparation programs for all teachers of young and older children.”
The bill includes important early childhood workforce provisions developed by NAEYC that were adopted into the final bill, such as:
- Expanding student loan forgiveness programs to include teachers earning a Bachelor’s degree who will work in licensed or regulated child care, Head Start, Early Head Start, and state pre-kindergarten programs;
- Including early childhood education programs in partnerships to improve teacher preparation, recruitment and retention, and the ability to use grant funds for compensation of early childhood educators who attain an Associate's or Baccalaureate degree
- Creating grants to states to create early childhood education professional development and career systems that will address teacher's competencies and credentials, better compensation to attract and keep teachers, quality assurances for training and professional development, and articulation agreements.
At the federal and state levels, there is an emerging trend towards increasing degree and other professional requirements for early childhood educators. However, most teachers in child care programs earn less than $20,000 a year and Head Start teachers also are paid low wages, making access to higher education often beyond their reach.
NAEYC looks forward to working to implement these new provisions to improve the quality of the early childhood workforce and to attract and keep teachers in child care, Head Start, Early Head Start, and state funded pre-kindergarten program settings.
NAEYC promotes high quality early childhood educators in a variety of ways. The association develops national standards for teacher preparation programs, implements standards in the early childhood education program accreditation systems, and provides position statements that guide practitioners and policymakers to promote a high-quality early education workforce.
“The inclusion in this bill of a new partnership with states for them to create integrated, cross-sector early childhood professional development systems is welcome,” Ginsberg said. “Such state systems will lead to a high quality early childhood workforce in all settings serving young children.”
Founded in 1926, the National Association for the Education of Young Children has nearly 90,000 members worldwide. The association is the largest and most influential advocate for early care and education in the United States.
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Founded in 1926, the National Association for the Education of Young Children is the largest and most influential advocate for high-quality early care and education in the United States.