Address early education’s workforce challenges before thinking bigger

Education

IN A perfect world, your editorial calling for universal child care in Massachusetts would, and should, be shouted from the rooftops (“Universal child care for $10 per day,” Dec. 18). However, we live in the imperfect world, where limited public funds demand prioritization. That’s why early-education leaders are narrowly focused, working with legislative leadership and the state Board of Early Education and Care, to ensure quality programs by focusing on our workforce.

Massachusetts has a community-based early-education system that serves more than 200,000 children. A thriving Massachusetts economy has left programs unable to attract or retain staff. People are leaving the field in droves to secure better wages. Parents would never accept a turnover of three second-grade teachers in one classroom during the school year, but this has become accepted practice in preschool classrooms across the state.

Given what we know about brain development in young children, we must take on this workforce challenge by increasing wages. The Legislature provided leadership to begin to address this crisis in this year’s budget by including a small increase for early educators. Once quality has been addressed through a stabilized workforce, we should seek a dialogue on how to expand our early-education system.

William J. Eddy

Executive director

Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care

Worcester

[SOURCE:-The Boston Globe]