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Report Says Early Childhood Educators Need to be Better Educated and Compensated

2/15/2006:   Numerous studies have shown that high-quality early childhood education improves long-term academic outcomes for children and provides benefits to communities that far outweigh initial program costs. Concern is growing, however, about the increasing difficulty of recruiting and retaining experienced and educated early childhood education workers.

A new report funded by the Foundation for Child Development, Losing Ground in Early Childhood Education, looks closely at this issue, extracting data on the early childhood education workforce from the 1979-2004 Current Population Survey. The study's findings include:
  • From 1983 to 1985, the share of U.S. center-based teachers and administrators with at least a four-year college degree averaged 43%, compared with only 30% in the last three years.

  • The hourly salary of teachers and administrators in center-based early childhood education was $10 in 2002-04, compared with $19.23 for female college graduates.

  • Only one-third of center-based teachers and administrators receive health care coverage through their jobs, and only one-fifth participate in pension plans.
The authors of the report warn that the most educated members of the early childhood education workforce are now in their late 50s and that the United States needs to raise both the qualifications of early childhood educators and their compensation so as current staff retires, a quality workforce will replace them.

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