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Home » Call to Action – Stop Proposed Changes to Teacher Certification

Call to Action – Stop Proposed Changes to Teacher Certification

December 27, 2013

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Julia Auch, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist

Julia Auch, Early Childhood Literacy Specialist

On October 21, 2013, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released information about their proposed changes to teacher certification in early childhood and elementary education. A summary of the main points affecting young children and teachers of young children currently pursuing certification follows:

1.   Early childhood teacher certification would be Birth to Pre-Kindergarten. (Kindergarten will NOT BE INCLUDED in early childhood education.)

2.   Elementary teacher certification would be Kindergarten to Grade Six (6). (The ONLY way to become certified to teach KINDERGARTEN would be to major in Elementary Education.)

I hold multiple teaching certificates in the state of Missouri, with the first being early childhood (birth – grade 3).   I have been blessed in my career to have taught preschool, Kindergarten, grades 1 and 3, and even grades 4 and 5 over the course of my 25-year career in education in the state of Missouri.  The proposed changes will DRASTICALLY LIMIT not only career options for educators, but will also impact the learning that takes place; in particular, the plethora of information pertaining to developmentally appropriate practice (DAP).  The proposed changes will force those interested in teaching K-3 into an elementary certification program, which then prevents them from ever teaching preschool.  To be an effective K-3 educator (and really, any educator), we must have a sense from where these children came regarding developmental milestones and the like, and this can only come from a program that includes infant and toddler pedagogy.

There is a second part to this that concerns me deeply.  A teaching degree with state certification is only required for those teaching preschool (ages 3-5) within school districts; with the St. Louis Public Schools probably employing the largest group.  Those who teach preschool in either managed agencies such as programs coordinated by entities such as Youth in Need, The Urban League, etc., as well as privately-owned centers, do not require their staff to hold teaching certificates or four-year degrees.  (This is a problem in itself, but I’ll save that for another time.)  These programs make up the largest group of early childhood teachers; working with thousands of children from birth through age five.  Many educators with early childhood degrees “land” in non-district childcare programs, for a variety of reasons, and their educational preparation only serves to strengthen the program.  My fear is this…  if a potential teacher knows that he or she can never teach beyond preschool with the new certificate, and that a certificate is not required to teach preschool in a childcare program, this could discourage them from acquiring a degree.  The result will be more teachers in childcare programs without the proper educational preparation.  THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM ALREADY and I believe this plan will only make it worse.

In a time when we are talking about the need to improve early childhood education, how is a change to the certification program a good idea?

What can YOU do?

The official 30-day COMMENT PERIOD is December 2, 2013 to January 1, 2014. It is imperative that all early childhood advocates and leaders let DESE know that we DO NOT APPROVE of the proposed changes to Early Childhood Teacher Certification.

Please address your concerns not only in your official professional roles but also as concerned individuals. Feel free to make comments more than once. The supporting documents attached to this email, offer additional suggestions, several sample letter, and a list of other individuals to contact. Address your position and concerns to DESE through the following contacts:

By email to: EducatorQuality@dese.mo.gov

By mail to: Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE), Tyler Barnett, Coordinator of Educator Quality, P. O. Box 480, Jefferson City, MO 65102

By registered mail to: Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE), Tyler Barnett, Coordinator of Educator Quality, 205 Jefferson Street, Jefferson City, MO 65102

For more information or sample emails/letters, visit the Missouri AEYC website:

http://aeyc-mo.org/

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