Community colleges are expanding associate degree programs for pre-K teachers, reports Community College Week. Demand is very high, but pay remains low.
In Washington state, Edmonds Community College‘s early childhood education students can find jobs with a one-year certificate or an associate of technical arts degree. Some earn an associate of arts degree and transfer to a university to earn a bachelor’s in education.
. . . “We see a lot of people who have been working with children for 20 years, and they say it’s time for them to get a degree,” (Connie) Schatz said. “There is no question that employers are looking for a minimum of a credential or an associate degree. People who are looking to work in leadership positions really need a bachelor’s degree. The real challenge is to provide pathways. We need to have entry at all levels.”
In Pennsylvania, half of early childhood education students at Northampton Community College take classes online. Many are working mothers or live in rural areas. About half the students go on to a four-year college.
NCC has designed a pathway that lets students earn a certificate en route to an associate degree.
Only highly skilled teachers can help disadvantaged children catch up before they start school, say early-childhood education advocates. Pre-kindergarten teachers should need a bachelor’s degree and a state license, just like K-12 teachers, concludes a New America Foundation Report issued last year.
Head Start now requires an associate degree for most teachers and a bachelor’s for lead teachers. By 2012, half of Head Start teachers will need a four-year degree.
As states struggle to balance budgets, it’s not likely preschools will get more funding to raise salaries for college-educated teachers.