One of the most important elements of high-quality preschool is a professional teaching workforce. As the Mayor and the Council researched and developed the standards for the Seattle Preschool Program (SPP), requiring professional degrees was a common thread among other programs with proven positive child outcomes.
SPP requires a bachelor’s degree for lead teachers and, for assistant teachers, an associate’s degree or two years of relevant coursework. When a provider joins SPP, its staff are given several years to meet this requirement. Funds are reserved within the SPP budget to provide tuition support for these teachers.
Recognizing the need for a steady pipeline of well-trained preschool teachers, the Seattle Colleges have launched a new B.A.S. degree for Early Childhood Education. It is a great example of our higher educational institutions stepping up to creatively meet a growing workforce need. They put together a video highlighting this program and its impact:
On a related note, there was an excellent article recently in the Seattle Times about local community organizing work undertaken in the Somali community around meeting Washington State’s quality standards for child care providers. Take a look here.