Education

Misguided Preschool Mandate Will Cost D.C. Parents and Teachers But Won't Help Kids

All day care workers will have to get a specialized degree by 2020 or risk losing their jobs.

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Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

Hundreds of workers at day cares and preschools in the nation's capital will have to get a degree in early childhood education or a related field by 2020, thanks to a mandate approved last year by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE).

The rule jeopardizes workers' jobs if they don't comply, and it creates a new barrier to entry for the child care business. It's also likely to hike costs for parents in a city where child care is already unusually expensive.

The OSSE is now thinking of postponing the degree requirement until 2023. A public comment period on the possible change ended this week, and a decision is expected sometime early next year.

Instead of merely postponing the new mandate, the OSSE should "scrap it entirely," says Jill Homan, whose 1-year-old daughter attends a day care program in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

"If you can push it out a couple years, then why not 2043? It becomes a very arbitrary date," she tells Reason. "If they're lacking a specific skill…teach them whatever they are missing. But if you can't articulate what skill they are lacking, then why require this additional degree?"

Washington already has nearly universal pre-K programs, and teachers in those programs (aimed at four-year-olds) are already required to have a degree in early childhood education. The OSSE's new mandate covers those who provide care and basic education to children between birth and age three.

The OSSE says it wants day care providers to have skills rivaling elementary school teachers. But the mandate's supporters haven't identified any specific deficiencies in the current child care workforce. Instead they focus on the supposed benefits of having trained early childhood educators working with children as young as 18 months. "This is a real opportunity to build the profession and set our young children on a positive trajectory for learning and development," Elizabeth Groginsky, the district's assistant superintendent of early learning, told The Washington Post in March.

Apparently, "building the profession" may require pushing some qualified people out of it.

Dale Sorcher has worked with children aged 18–24 months for more than two decades at the Gan HaYeled preschool in D.C. She has masters' degrees in education and social work, but those don't count for the OSSE's mandate, which requires a degree specifically in early childhood education. She has no intention of going back to school to take the 24 credits for an associates' degree—"which, quite frankly, I could teach," she says—on top of the continuing education requirements for her social work license.

If the OSSE absolutely must implement mandatory education for existing teachers and day care providers, the regulatory board should provide it as part of teacher in-service training, Sorcher suggests. "Then it's done on-site during the day when your workforce is there," rather than forcing current workers to attend night school or otherwise a degree program into their lives.

The requirement could also have the perverse consequence of exhausted caretakers watching the kids.

Earlier this year, The Washington Post published a lengthy look at the consequences of the new mandate. One preschool teacher, Debbie James-Dean, talked about getting up at 4:15 a.m. each day to finish homework before working a full day and then taking classes until after 9 p.m.

"After working a full day of caring for our daughter, now they have to go to night school," says Homan. "The last thing I want is her teachers and caregiver to be stressed or tired."

The mandate's advocates claim that early childhood education is essential to success later in school and life, echoing the arguments used to expand pre-K programs across the country in recent years.

"Early learning begets later learning, and we're really setting up a positive trajectory," Groginsky told The Atlantic earlier this year.

Yet studies have found that most educational gains from early childhood education tend to wash out after a few years. The largest and most well-known early childhood education program, Head Start, has consumed more than $160 billion in federal funds since its creation in the 1960s. After tracking a group of 5,000 preschoolers who participated in Head Start, the Department of Health and Human Services in 2010 concluded that any benefits from the program "yielded only a few statistically significant differences in outcomes at the end of the 1st grade."

By the end of 2015, 54 state-funded pre-K programs were operating in 42 states plus Washington, D.C., at a cost of more than $6.2 billion for state taxpayers. Programs that used to be narrowly targeted to low-income students are now being expanded. New York City recently adopted a universal pre-K program, and PresidentBarack Obama called for states to do the same in his 2016 State of the Union address.

Advocacy groups hope to use D.C.'s requirement to push for similar rules elsewhere. But what good is leading the way if a program yields few benefits while driving qualified workers out of their jobs and costing parents more?

The average cost of child care in D.C. is more than $22,600 annually, the highest of any metropolitan area in the country, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focused on policies affecting consumer costs. That's likely to go up if the mandate goes into effect. The required associates' degree costs about $6,000 on average for a two-year program, according to The College Board.

While the city and OSSE have made some scholarship programs available to help current child care workers afford the added cost, that doesn't address "the other costs and time constraints would-be childcare workers would face, including the opportunity cost of missed work time," write C. Jarrett Dieterle and Shoshana Weissmann, policy fellows at the R Street Institute, in official comments submitted to the OSSE last week.

Although the degree mandate was created last year without input from the public or the city council, new rules passed this summer give the city council the authority to review any similar rules made by the OSSE in the future. Reopening the mandate to potentially extend the compliance date to 2023 creates an opportunity for D.C.'s city government to act.

The public seems to have noticed. Since the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm, established SaveDCDaycare.com to collect public comments about mandate, more than 300 comments have been submitted. That total doesn't include any comments submitted directly to the OSSE.

The OSSE will likely wait until after the holidays to review the public comments and make any changes to the policy. The office also has to complete a report, requested by the city council, on the expected costs associated with the mandate. The city council will likely have a chance to act to delay or discontinue the requirement.

"I hope they decide that this is really stupid and makes no sense," says Sorcher. "In certain areas, certain positions, I think life experience is way more valuable than 24 credit hours. It's crazy."

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  1. Hundreds of workers at day cares and preschools in the nation’s capital will have to get a degree in early childhood education or a related field by 2020…

    Does English Lit count as a related field?

    1. English Lit, Art History, Latin, Philosophy…

      1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

        This is what I do… http://www.onlinecareer10.com

      2. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

        This is what I do… http://www.onlinecareer10.com

    2. I assume Women’s Studies include taking care of babies and not just the cooking and the cleaning.

      1. Also I believe that all automotive mechanics should be required to have a PhD in Mechanical Engineering in order to change my oil and lube me up!

        1. For lubing you up, wouldn’t proctology be a more appropriate degree?

          1. Damn, this is one of those times we need a button.

      2. That’s the track for the women. In the track for the men, they mostly study “films” about women and their “interactions” with men.

    3. I would expect womens studies to be popular. . As would any victimology study. Shurly, no one sees any sort of conflict there. . .

    4. There really are no related fields per se. Most child development providers already have training in specific ECE requirements including the 40 hour course, 1st Aid, CPR, Blood borne pathogens, etc. This is a by product of the federal government under Obama pushing Head Start / Early Head Start requirements for an ECE Associates just to be a TA (Teacher’s Assistant) and require an ECE bachelors to be a Teacher. This requirement is more about getting higher education more students for the degree core requirements.

    5. Start earning $90/hourly for working online from your home for few hours each day… Get regular payment on a weekly basis… All you need is a computer, internet connection and a litte free time…
      Read more here,….. http://www.startonlinejob.com

  2. So this is our last Links before Kwanzaa, huh.

    1. We celebrate Robanukha, you insensitive clod.

  3. That’s a lotta words for the AM links.

    1. No shit – WTF?

      1. I thought maybe I just missed it. What happened? Did Christian finally kill himself?!?!?

  4. Personally, I keep telling you Americans to not go the Quebec route. Politicizing daycare is a baaaaad idea.

    1. Rufus is technically an employee of the province, and he is pissed about his six weeks of mandatory paid vacation every year.

      1. I wish.

        I’m self-employed which makes me a natural enemy of the state and I must provide for the parasites.

    2. Ontario is well on its way, they’re just trying to figure out how to make it a “human right”. Isn’t everything politicized in Quebec? From when I go and what I see, I feel I’m not far off.

  5. The Friday before Christmas is a holiday for D.C.

    1. Black Friday 2: Reloaded

      1. That’s so racist.

        1. That’s pronouced “raciss”.

  6. Reopening the mandate to potentially extend the compliance date to 2023 creates an opportunity for D.C.’s city government to act.

    Does anyone think the city government isn’t going to pass this mandate – or something worse?

    1. They’re competing with Philly’s ban on bullet-proof glass for Worst New Rule, Municipal.

    2. Why should they stop at an Associates? If preschool is so eminently important, shouldn’t we require at least a bachelors? Of course the next step would be to require parents to complete such a degree before giving birth.

      Gasp, how did so many generations, (including the one that sent man to the moon and back) survive without having had a childhood preschool education by qualified bureaucrats?

      Whats, next? We gonna require kids to have a “preschool diploma” before being allowed to matriculate into Kindergarten? Is the city going to extent sovereign immunity to educated and presumably licensed preschool teachers, so as to protect them from claims of incompetence? Pot-Kettle-Black. . .

  7. Office of the State Superintendent for Education

    Keep living the dream DC.

  8. “If they’re lacking a specific skill…teach them whatever they are missing. But if you can’t articulate what skill they are lacking, then why require this additional degree?”

    Let me answer that question by posing another: Why are degrees required in general?

    1. cre?den?tial?ism
      kr??den(t)SH??liz?m
      noun
      belief in or reliance on academic or other formal qualifications as the best measure of a person’s intelligence or ability to do a particular job.

      1. Because theyv banned aptitude tests, and things are way to costly and bureaucratic now to go the old fashioned route of learning a trade as you go, really young.

    2. So someone can check off a box on a job application?

      1. No, so they can keep the applicants down and increase remuneration for the employed.

    3. Marksmanship

    4. I actually though of a law I’d like to see passed at the federal level requiring that all position descriptions for public sector jobs be written in terms of certifications instead of degrees.

      I’m guessing me thinking about it is as far as it will ever get, since I’m not in a position to prop up whatever panic the government is currently pushing.

    5. Why are degrees required.
      I work in architecture and the architects and engineers are always amazed that plan checkers at the building department who often have no degree at all get to evaluate plans done by architects and engineers. why have a degree when a flunkie former contractor of maintenance person gets to decide whats correct.

      1. I see you know the song of my people (masters in architecture, 15 years of engineering experience. Can’t legally call myself either.)

    6. Because it proves the Bureaucrats CARE MORE THAN YOU DO, and ARE DOING SOMETHING about UNQUALIFIED CHILDREN. . .

      1. There was another solution provided by bureaucrats for “unqualified children”….

  9. creates an opportunity for D.C.’s city government to act.

    “Whew! Thought we were gonna have to sit around doing nothing!”

  10. “The average cost of child care in D.C. is more than $22,600 annually…”

    How is that even possible? That is SO much money! Is that per child?! I cannot even wrap my mind around that figure!

    1. When I lived in the Chicago suburbs and had a kid in daycare, I seem to remember it was a bit over 300 a week (15k a year) for infant care at the place we used.
      As the child got closer to age 4 or 5 the cost would decrease, but it would still be in excess of 12k a year at this time I think.

      That was 4 years ago.

    2. Don’t worry, when the state takes it over, you won’t even notice the cost anymore.

      1. Or the Neo-Pavlovian conditioning

      2. Don’t worry, when the state takes it over, you won’t even notice the cost anymore.

        You mean daycare or education? [Yes]

    3. Where my SO works, it’s something like that. It’s ridiculously expensive, but they usually are the children of public servants, so they well afford it.

      1. Of course, we have to pay such degreed and presumably licensed “Professionals” more than minimum wage, which the progressives want to push to $15.00/hour. So, daycare teachers will need at least $21.00 per hour and benefits. Assuming they don’t start school and decide wisely to get a degree in something that might really pay. . .

    4. That’s why we need federal credits for day care….

      It takes a villain to raise a child…

    5. This article makes me laugh. All the people in DC lobbying for more government, are getting it, close, personal and in the pocketbook. Seems like a favor for liberal universities.

      My only concern, are those lobbying because they’re trying to prevent their competitors getting in bed with government to put them out of business.

    6. How is that possible? Easy: caregivers get minimum wage, and the rest goes towards liability insurance in case the minmum wage caregivers sexually abuse the children.

      1. From my wife (former pre-K and elementary teacher and her colleagues, to parents:

        “Don’t believe everything your kids say about us and we won’t believe everything they say about you.”

        1. “Lady, my kid does not say a word about you, but you should see the footage from the camera in little Meghans backpack.”

  11. Groginsky is really good at spouting off meaningless buzzwords.

    1. “This is a real opportunity to build the profession and set our young children on a positive trajectory for learning and development,”

      I can help translate some of the key phrases. “Real opportunity” = “sneak the BS past the voters chop-chop”. “Build the profession” = “rent-seek”. “Positive trajectory” = “you don’t know how to raise your kids so give them to us”.

      1. “Positive trajectory” = “you don’t know how to raise your kids so give them to us”.

        Somebody should put Groginsky on a positive trajectory… out of a cannon.

    2. Aren’t all bureaucrats?

  12. Kids like learning. Give them the opportunity and resources, and they will learn and retain far more than when forced to sit in class learning stupid useless dates and names.

    I can’t imagine anything worse for a kid’s interest in learning than forcing school and teachers down their throats while they are still absorbing basic grammar on their own. What the hell do you teach a three year old kid anyway? Do they get homework, and what’s it on, an mp3 because they can’t read yet?

    3 year olds are voracious learning machines. This nonsense will do everything possible to discourage that.

    1. A lot comes out of Italy regarding child education. We use the Reggio Emilia Approach here.

      http://bit.ly/1VJTf4S

      1. The so-called government guide is pure garbage and is just stuff ripped off from the USA and Europe.

        But they act like we’re stupid and don’t know they copy/pasted it.

      2. No relation to Reggio Parmagiano. Sad.

        1. Right? For a second there it sounded delicious.

      3. A country that spent several decades producing little fascists and then turned into an econmic basket case. Definitely the kind of country we should take advice from on how to educate our children!

    2. Yes but the early they get them, the more time they have to conform them.

  13. Regggiano Parmesian. That’s why I stick with Romano. Spelling.

  14. KIds aren’t turning out as serf like as we need to push our agenda. Our educators need more training on how to educate them.

    Because Trump happened, this needs doing now!

  15. Tired? How about broke? Those classes aren’t cheap. And those jobs don’t pay all that much. You’re lucky to get $14-16/hr. In DC, that’s shit pay.

  16. “I hope they decide that this is really stupid and makes no sense,” says Sorcher. “In certain areas, certain positions, I think life experience is way more valuable than 24 credit hours. It’s crazy.”

    Doesn’t lived experience count for anything anymore?

    1. Yeah, it’s the common source of knowledge in shitty “___ studies” disciplines now.

      So nothing good.

  17. More power for teacher’s unions and teaching establishment.

    I personally consider successful completion of a degree through progressive propaganda mills as a disqualifying mark against anyone applying to supervise children.

    Like a conviction for child abuse.

  18. The average cost of child care in D.C. is more than $22,600 annually, the highest of any metropolitan area in the country

    Don’t worry, if you are poor (i.e., you make less than $200000/year), then the federal government will pick up the cost.

    If you object, you are a child-hating racist!

  19. this article doesn’t even address that DC has already dedicated a bunch of taxpayer $$ to programs intended to overcome the current massive shortfall in daycare availability in the District. and then imposed this ludicrous, arbitrary requirement, which can only make the availability issues worse. what is wrong with these people.

  20. Progs legislating themselves to death…

  21. Yet studies have found that most educational gains from early childhood education tend to wash out after a few years.

    This is my experience from both my own childhood as well as my daughter’s. She was much more advanced when at a church-run preschool than she is at the government-run “public” school she attends now. It seems her school performance degrades every year she gets further and further away from her time in private pre-school. I myself had been in a special boarding probram up through 1st grade, and apparently in 2nd and 3rd grades I would be completing assignments in class while the rest of the class would be having to have the instructions repeated two or three times. That fell away as the years progressed (much to my own disappointment).

  22. “But if you can’t articulate what skill they are lacking, then why require this additional degree?”

    Because that increases the power of the degree mills. Duh.

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