D.C. Early Learning Workforce Requirements: The New York Times’ Take

Recently, the Washington Post published an article about the District of Columbia’s new education requirements for the early learning workforce — and just last week, The New York Times released its own story (“Do Preschool Teachers Really Need to Be College Graduates?”), examining these changes from various viewpoints.

The Times article highlights the importance of high-quality educators in supporting the rapidly growing brains of young children, while acknowledging that the issue is complicated. Qualifications alone won’t guarantee high-quality early learning experiences — the interplay of degrees, compensation and working conditions is what moves the quality of programs to better caring for and educating infants and toddlers. This isn’t to say that the District’s step toward requiring higher credentials for teachers isn’t an incredible and necessary one — teacher education is an important part of the quality equation.

“So what does the data show? Teachers’ level of education is associated with high-quality care and teaching, and there is no evidence that it doesn’t matter. However, there is also no clear evidence that it’s necessary, or sufficient on its own, without being combined with other policies — particularly paying teachers higher wages.”

These articles demonstrate that improving responsive care and instructional quality is an important and complicated issue — and it’s worth continued investments. That’s why the Foundation has invested in a strategy that expands Early Head Start through the District’s Quality Improvement Network — requiring teachers to have a credential, honoring these teachers’ higher standard of work with salary bonuses and providing coaching to support their daily practice. Learn more about the work of our Birth-to-Three Policy Alliance.

Visit our website to learn more about the Foundation and our work.


Sara Mickelson is Senior Manager of Early Learning, Policy for the Bainum Family Foundation.