Viewpoint: Requiring College Degrees for Early Educators is Necessary and Possible

Last Tuesday, we shared a Q&A interview with D.C.’s Assistant Superintendent for Early Learning Elizabeth Groginsky on the District’s new child care licensing requirements for the early childhood workforce (“Q&A with Elizabeth Groginsky on DC’s New ECE Credentialing Requirements”). This recent regulation change has been getting national attention, including from an article in The Atlantic (“D.C.’s Misguided Attempt to Regulate Daycare”), which asserted that the regulations were an inaccurate interpretation of the Institute of Medicine’s seminal 2015 report (“Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation“), described in last Tuesday’s blog post.

Sue Russell, founder and executive director of the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood National Center and the scholarship program of the same name, refutes The Atlantic’s article in her latest blog post (“Requiring Early Childhood Degrees Is the Right Strategy!”). Russell speaks to the myths perpetuated by The Atlantic’s article and others, arguing that requiring a college education for early childhood educators is important and possible, and won’t cause working and low-income families to lose access to care.

“Requiring an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education, like DC did, may be a good start along this path, and there is evidence that it can and should be done.”

— Sue Russell, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood National Center

Current early childhood educators in the District will be given support and financial incentives as they attain their degrees — including through the Teacher Education Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) Scholarship, funded by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education.

We will also continue to work to ensure more is done to support the workforce through our Birth-to-Three Policy Alliance. This group, which includes D.C.’s leading nonprofits serving children and families, has made improving infant and toddler teacher compensation and funding for early learning programs one of its primary goals. It’s a key part of our Foundation’s broader effort to improve early childhood in the District.