(D) A Great Early Childhood Education Workforce

Comments

There is a wonderful opportunity to connect the administration’s early childhood agenda with the administration’s youth employment agenda by training disadvantaged youth to become early childhood educators.

  • (D)(1)(b) Add to end of sentence “and which are designed to be accessible to disadvantaged older youth who are out of school and unemployed.”

We recommend including Family Leadership and Support within the Set of Workforce Knowledge and Competencies, as follows:
“Set of Workforce Knowledge and Competencies designed to promote children’s learning and development, support parents in their role as their children’s first teachers, and improve outcomes;” The intent is to incorporate the Family Leadership and Support Standards into the Workforce Knowledge and Competencies. There are examples of States that have already done this through the Strengthening Families initiative.

Signed,
Frank Farrow, Director, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Judy Langford, Senior Fellow and Director, Strengthening Families Initiative, Center for the Study of Social Policy
Teresa Rafael, Executive Director, National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds

Further specific explanation would assist states in addressing this selection criteria.

The Early Intervention Family Alliance (EIFA) is a national group of family leaders dedicated to improving outcomes for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. The EIFA represents family leaders involved in Part C programs in states and other jurisdictions implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

The EIFA is excited by the prospect of the Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge Grants and provide the following comments on the proposed Grant Competition. We appreciate the requirement that any grant recipient continue to provide services under Part C of IDEA. We would however encourage the Administration to require that States continue to provide services under the most recent State Application and not reduce eligibility during the term of the grant. As parent leaders we know that programs like Part C can not only support children but also their parents. We are all parent leaders as a direct result of our Part C programs and we are committed to assisting other parents to become parent leaders and forge parent-professional partnerships.

As parent leaders we are aware of many families who wish to partner with professionals, however find barriers to this involvement. Programs need models of parent leadership and reassurance that parent leadership can result in positive outcomes. It is important to provide families with access to information and trainings and to create additional opportunities for meaningful family leadership. It is important to create these opportunities at the program level, local level and finally at the State level. It is further important to ask states to describe how parents will be included in managing grants, whether this involvement will be consistent with the requirements of existing federally funded programs (e.g., Part C of IDEA, Title V, Head Start) and will there be a workforce lattice for parents? We would suggest that the final document include a definition of family engagement, and further that it refer to the aforementioned federally-funded programs and indicate how the definition complements those existing family involvement definitions and requirements.

Requirement for a highly educated pre-K workforce is laudable. Question is where will be the stable funding for what will follow - the need for increase in wages and salaries?

(D) (2) Supporting Early Childhood Educators in improving their knowledge, skills, and abilities
We must develop a workforce that is diverse in its cultural, linguistic, social, and ethnic and ability makeup. The workforce must be is provided with opportunities to learn and acquire knowledge and skills that are necessary to serve a population that is linguistically culturally and ability diverse. We must work towards offering a system that eliminates weaknesses, which manifest themselves by fragmenting, duplicating, and not providing essential resources where they are needed in all areas of the system. Attention needs to focus on policies that connect professional development activities to support the effective implementation of an integrated, coordinated system. The policies in that system should address all service roles, direct and non-direct, pre-service, and in-service, so a diverse workforce is developed of competent professionals who are equipped to provide the appropriate services. With this emphasis on job preparation, they will be well versed in their job duties and have an increased awareness and appreciation for the children they serve. Not only will they know how to do their job but also they are prepared to see the children in a holistic manner so the growth and development are supported in all sectors that need to be involved.
(D) (3) partnering with postsecondary institutions and other professional development providers in developing effective Early Childhood Educators
I support the recommendation made by the Joint WCLD workgroup that when a Higher Education institutions offers Associate Degrees and certificates in early childhood and child development, specific course content and practice experiences in a variety of settings relevant to the education of English language learners from birth-to-eight must be included. These recommendations speak to the need that higher education institutions offering a Bilingual/ESL Approval, Endorsement or a Certificate, must modify course content to include pedagogical and research-based practices as well as skills and techniques relevant to teaching English Language Learners (ELL) from birth-to-eight. Coursework regarding language development, methodology, culture, and ELL assessment should be offered with relevance to age and developmental groupings, such as early childhood, elementary and secondary levels. It is also recommended that they designate funding for developing a web-based system of resources and supports available to teachers, program administrators and higher education faculty, which will provide research-based information on current knowledge and best practices related to educating young English language learners

In pushing for improvements to the workforce, these guidelines must recognize that many credentialing systems are designed to span pre-kindergarten through the third grade. Many post-secondary institutions are providing preparation for prospective teachers who will receive P-3 or PreK-3rd credentials. These credentials, if designed well, could become key ingredients in a state’s plans for building a system of sustained learning programs up through elementary schools. Yet Criteria D does not seem to reflect the existence of these credentials. The criteria under “partnering with postsecondary institutions” should be written to ensure that states’ plans are not restricted only to teachers in childcare and pre-kindergarten classrooms but also encompass credentialing programs that span the full spectrum of early childhood including kindergarten and the early grades.

Additional comments and recommendations for improving the guidelines can be downloaded from the New America website at http://earlyed.newamerica.net/publications/resources/2011/comments_on_dr...

Thank you,
Lisa Guernsey
Director, Early Education Initiative
New America foundation.

This discussion reflects how far we have come and what tremendous achievements have been made in work force development over the years while at the same time presenting a monumental task before us. It is this persistent and determined vision of quality child care that keeps us inspired. Before making comments, I would like to equate the field of Early Childhood Education with an old management cliche'. "We are sitting on acres of diamonds!" There is no doubt that we have an abundance of resources. Do they fit into a system? Not really. Do some of them need to be shined and buffed? Yes! Are we up to the task and are we able to continue on toward our vision? Without doubt.

Over the years of working in day care and Head Start, professional development, higher education and government, there has been a patchwork quilt of opportunities, many of varying quality. The comments below are but a few of the next steps in what has been and will be a long and worthwhile process
1) Lack of articulation in some states across higher education institutions; lack of reciprocity across state lines; lack of academic credit for training conducted by child care and Head Start instructors.
2) Increased use of newest technology to access academic coursework that includes quality approaches to instruction and learning
3) An approach to professional development that includes a mentoring process
4) Support for a comprehensive system of teacher assessment (not rigid and punitive); using the SOLAR system (can be found on the ECLKC) as a guide
5) Continue to convene state groups to highlight state models that work
6) Acknowledge systems that work and bring the field closer to its goal

As an advocacy organization working on behalf of the early educators that serve our nation’s young children, Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children applauds the inclusion of selection criteria pertaining to the early childhood education workforce. Because early educators play a significant role in program and instructional quality, they deserve professional development supports and appropriate compensation. Although the pursuit of credentials and high education are important, we would also stress the importance of in-service training and professional development that directly improves instructional practice. Thank you for the opportunity to comment and for this great initiative.

There is also much work to be done to ensure that college courses at two- and four-year colleges and at the graduate level WITHIN A STATE are comparable across course titles. For a workforce that might not begin and end at the same institution, or who will likely take at least 6 years to get to an AA or BA degree, comparability across institutions is key.

MA is one of the state's in which a solid working relationship is built into their Preschool through Post Secondary Office of Education.Work underway there on these issue is worthy of examination.

Dr. J.M.Gruendel, CT

A Great Early Childhood Workforce begins with invested partners (2yr, 4yr, and in-service PD providers) working together to develop a coordinated path of professional development based on sound competencies. Part of that path is the delivery methods of the pre-service and in-service PD in ways that align with adult learning principles. This includes scaffolding competency development over time in ways that provide learners with REAL experiences in classroom settings - frequently, not just at the end of thier college career. For in-service this process includes building upon current experiences and providing a coaching mechanism to strengthen competencies in a job-embedded model and to cross-pollinate with peers in similiar programs. College instructors will need professional learning opportunities to develop their own skills in this area in order to make a real difference in pre-service program design. It can be done but there needs to be professional learning opportunities for those who develop and deliver instructional programming.

this is an area requiring immediate attention. currently, the lack of appropriate child development programs at 4 year colleges confounds the efforts of many States to find qualified candidates. typically, the State opts for enforcing degrees, over educational training relevant to the early years. this has proven to be a faulty assupmtion.

in addition, the community college system has historically produced the most current curriculum in ece... and indeed, the community college students regularly have a greater command of appropriate practice than their 4 year counterparts who have degrees in "related fields".

finally, the community college students more closely reflect the populations, language skills, and cultural competence needed for the high risk communities that need high quality preschool programs.