Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

B.A.s for Pre-K Teachers: Making Them Possible

April 17, 2007 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Regarding “Scholars Split on Pre-K Teachers With B.A.s” (March 28, 2007):

Consider this: In some states, the person who cuts your hair is required to have more training than the person who teaches your 4-year-old.

There’s little doubt that prekindergarten teachers play a vital role in getting children ready academically and socially to begin school. What is less clear is the level of training these teachers currently have, and whether that training is sufficiently focused on early-childhood education.

Research shows that the most important brain development occurs by age 5. Are we providing our children with the best-trained teachers to take full advantage of their growing brains? Parents should be confident that their children are being taught by qualified teachers. Unfortunately, bachelor’s degrees are not yet the standard for pre-K teachers.

In 2006, only 21 states required pre-K teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, and even fewer required one with a specialization in early-childhood development. Yet research shows that better-educated teachers create more-nurturing learning environments, use developmentally appropriate activities and individualized lesson plans, and better recognize learning disabilities so children can promptly receive the services they need. But pre-K teacher training hasn’t become the national priority it should be. We have a lot of work to do to build a B.A.-certified pre-K workforce.

More colleges and universities should offer degrees in early-childhood education, including flexible degree programs that allow teachers to teach while attending classes. Lawmakers must support this effort by offering tuition assistance and then paying pre-K teachers the professional salaries they deserve.

Schools wouldn’t think of hiring a kindergarten or 1st grade teacher who had not been to college. Why do our youngest learners deserve any less?

Libby Doggett

Executive Director

Pre-K Now

Washington, D.C.

To the Editor:

I am currently an assistant teacher at a pre-K center in New Jersey, where, after a 1998 state supreme court decision, all lead teachers are required to have bachelor’s degrees. I, for one, have decided to go to school full time and continue working full time so that I can earn my degree and become a lead teacher.

The notion that many culturally diverse and bilingual teachers don’t have bachelor’s degrees, or couldn’t attain one if it were required, is false and frankly destructive. My experience and that of my colleagues here in New Jersey and in centers across the nation proves that the assumptions of Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who is quoted in your article as speculating that such a requirement could result in a “purge” of these kinds of teachers, are just plain nonsense.

Minority and bilingual teachers in community-based settings, like all teachers, are fully capable of earning a bachelor’s degree and willing to do so when provided the necessary resources to get there. For every bit of anecdotal evidence showing that Latino, African-American, and bilingual professionals leave the field, I could counter with real-life examples of teachers who embrace the challenge and earn their degrees.

Teachers will do their part if states, pre-K programs, and the federal government will do theirs. We need flexible degree programs, leave time, scholarships, and increased compensation, which would allow us to work and attend classes. We’ll earn those degrees. We’ll become better teachers. And we’ll become role models who can inspire other early-childhood professionals to do the same.

I challenge Mr. Fuller to find one teacher who doesn’t want a bachelor’s degree. Contrary to his assertions, this is not an issue of race, language, cultural values, or even the value of higher education. This is about making children and the teachers who teach them a priority.

I’m tired of people making excuses for not having enough “qualified” teachers. We’re ready and willing. Help us take that next step.

Jennifer Franco

Elizabeth, N.J.

A version of this article appeared in the April 18, 2007 edition of Education Week as B.A.s for Pre-K Teachers: Making Them Possible


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP