T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood is coming to D.C.!

One of our goals with "Little Citizens, Big Issues" is to showcase diverse voices and viewpoints from the community on issues affecting young children in the District. This post is by Lauren Hogan, director of public policy at the National Black Child Development Institute (NBDCI).  

I don’t remember the name of my 2nd grade teacher, or my 6th grade social studies teacher. I don’t remember what I studied in 8th grade science, and I couldn’t solve a quadratic equation if my life depended on it. But it’s been over 25 years since I was in preschool, and I do remember Miss Frannie and Miss Kathy. I do remember reading books among the beanbags, playing cat-and-mouse in the parachutes, and learning about Japan from my friend Hiro.  

As everyone is talking about “effective teachers,” I’m thinking about what that means for our youngest learners. I know it means someone, like Kathy, who understands child development, who engages children in playing, talking, reading, asking questions, and building relationships with caring adults and with other children.  I know it’s someone, like Frannie, who is herself a lifelong learner, curious and excited about the world.

Sure, an effective early childhood teacher probably has the patience and kindness of a saint – but personality must go hand-in-hand with knowledge. Nice isn’t good enough anymore (if it ever was). Nice doesn’t close the achievement gap. It doesn’t, by itself, prepare kids for school or address special needs, and it certainly doesn’t increase compensation. Only increased education – and a change in political will – can do that.      

When we require our early childhood teachers to have higher levels of education, as the 2008 PreK Enhancement and Expansion Act does, it is our collective responsibility to help them achieve those goals. T.E.A.C.H. (Teacher Education and Compensation Helps) Early Childhood® is an evidence-based, highly successful scholarship model operating in 21 states. Crafted over many years by early childhood professionals, the model provides comprehensive scholarships that address a wide range of needs and strengths, while focusing on the outcomes of increased compensation and retention.

NBCDI is thrilled to have received the license to run T.E.A.C.H. in D.C. from the Child Care Services Association in North Carolina, and the funding to launch the program from D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education (read the press releases from NBCDI and OSSE).  

Working in partnership with the existing Early Childhood Higher Education Consortium, we will be able to change the landscape of professional development and higher education for early childhood providers. Beginning in the next few months, teachers and providers will receive scholarships to complete credits towards their Associate’s or Bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education or child development. Scholarship recipients will see their compensation increase at the end of each contract year. Recipients who complete their scholarship contract and receive their compensation incentive will be retained in their child care setting. At a systems level, institutions of higher education will increase both the quantity and the quality of options available to all providers seeking early childhood degrees.  

To achieve these outcomes, NBCDI will be focusing on building partnerships; ensuring that courses are high-quality, affordable, and offered during the evenings, weekends, and online; supporting scholarship recipients from the time of application through degree completion; and carefully monitoring, tracking, and evaluating data and results.  

Research confirms that increased educational attainment, increased compensation and decreased turnover among teachers – all hallmarks of T.E.A.C.H.’s outcomes – lead to improved program quality and increased school readiness.  Check back over the next few weeks to find out more about the details of the T.E.A.C.H. program – who is eligible, how to apply, where information sessions will be held, etc.

Together, we can make sure that there’s a Miss Frannie or Miss Kathy for every child, in every classroom, in every ward.