Stronger Workforce

Career Development and Universal Prekindergarten: What Now? What Next?

Concerns about the qualifications, turnover, diversity, and compensation of the early childhood workforce are growing as more children attend private and public preschool programs. Although a teacher’s education is positively linked to student achievement in preschool through high school, many early childhood teachers have limited education beyond high school. Increasing the education levels of the current and future workforce will ensure that children’s early educational experiences are both enriching and nurturing.

Institutions of higher education are not ready to meet the current or projected need for early educators with BA degrees. Early education programs have limited resources in terms of faculty and courses offered.

Existing career ladder initiatives tie wages to educational attainment, and some link salaries to job responsibility. Requirements for training and competencies of program directors are often overlooked in efforts to prepare the teaching workforce, but deserve sustained attention.

Building public support and promoting a universal system of early education and care must be included in efforts to stimulate career development in early education. Other factors include linking prekindergarten with the elementary school system, engaging teacher unions, and establishing higher and different standards for the preparation of program managers, policy analysts, and directors.