Scientists say that higher education for pre-school child-care workers is a good idea. So of course D.C. is going to make it mandatory that child-care workers get associate's degrees and completely screw over an entire class of lower-skilled workers.
Indeed, the argument is literally that lower-skilled workers shouldn't be caring for children because that might mean that their precious, developing brains are not getting stimulated as much as they could be. But rather than passing that information along to parents to decide how much to evaluate the education of their child-care professionals as a priority, D.C. has decided to mandate more training.
The consequences are, of course, going to be absolutely awful for some people who are unable to get what the city's demanding. From The Washington Post:
[F]or many child-care workers, who are often hired with little more than a high school diploma, returning to school is a difficult, expensive proposition with questionable reward.
Many already have more training than comparably paid jobs such as parking lot attendants, hotel clerks, and fast food workers. And unlike most professional fields, prospects are slim that a degree would bring a significantly higher income: a bachelor's degree in early childhood education yields the lowest life-time earnings of any major.
Center directors have few resources to tap if they want to reward their better-educated employees. Many parents in the District are maxed out, paying among the highest annual tuitions nationally at $1800 a month. And government subsidies that help fund care for children from lower income families fall well below market rate.
In the end, early child-care teachers that go on to earn diplomas often leave their jobs to work in public schools, where they can earn substantially more.
One child-care center operator said that only two of her 16 employees have made it to associate's degrees thus far, and one had quit because she simply couldn't go back to school.
The news story doesn't engage in the question of why parents can't decide for themselves how important it is for their child-care workers to have advanced degrees. Perhaps that's because early education advocates might not like the answers, once the realities of the likely cost increases get factored in.
There's instead a heavy emphasis in the story on the mechanisms by which these poor workers might get subsidies or assistance to get the education they need to keep their livelihoods. There's also no interest in exploring the increased attention to the major problems for the poor that are a direct result from occupational licensing programs. No doubt the same people who promote such programs would, for example, see Mississippi's push to decrease the power of regulatory licensing programs as proof of how backward that southern state is.
To be sure, this D.C. law is a jobs program—it's a jobs program for people who work in the field of post-secondary education itself. Nothing like using a regulatory mandate to create a demand for your educational services that might not exist otherwise. The story makes it abundantly clear that advocates for increased education of child-care workers—who, wouldn't you know it, work in the field of education—want to spread this program well beyond D.C.'s borders.
Oh, incidentally, President Donald Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, have been proposing a massive child-care subsidy that would manifest via deductibles. That would perhaps help the wealthier D.C. residents cover increasing costs that would most certainly follow once child-care workers have advanced degrees.
But as has been noted, such a subsidy plan would not do much for lower-income families. And so not only would poorer families be even less able to afford child care, they're also going to be locked out of jobs within the industry itself. Good work there, D.C.
By the way, as a useful reminder, science also says many of America's early education programs are crap due to wasteful spending with poor oversight.