You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Commentary: Texas needs teachers with early childhood certification


The new governor of Texas ran on a pre-kindergarten platform. And he announced early childhood education as a main priority. Yet, his plan does little to help ensure teachers have the knowledge necessary to be effective teachers of young children.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan focuses on pre-K teachers being required to have a Child Development Associate Credential and a bachelor’s degree. Such a proposal sounds good, yet it does little to address the underlying issue that most teachers who work in early childhood classrooms have little knowledge of child development or a range of early childhood specific teaching and learning principles.

Texas is one of only four states that do not have teacher certification specific to early childhood. The House Public Education Committee met to discuss teacher quality on Tuesday.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators recommend that teachers have either an early childhood teacher certificate or endorsement.

Rather than fixing certification to benefit all years of early childhood, Abbott is only focused on certification for pre-K teachers.

Helping K-3 teachers understand practices and develop strong relationships with children and families is not part of his emphasis on early childhood education.

Failure to see early childhood education as being much more than pre-K means that many K-3 classrooms in Texas public schools have a narrow focus on literacy and numeric skills rather than supporting creative and engaged learning experiences. They are not able to address all domains of children’s early learning, including the social, intellectual, emotional, linguistic, cultural and physical development of young children.

During public testimony at the Texas Education Agency’s Sunset Hearing, Andrea Brauer of Texans Care for Children testified, “Many early childhood professionals, such as representatives from school districts, and the Texas Association of Administrators and Supervisors of Programs for Young Children, believe the current certification does not provide adequate training for the needs of preschool teachers and students.”

Texas policy makers need a better understanding of how young children learn and why teachers with specialized training in early childhood teaching and learning are to be treasured.

Early childhood spans the first eight years of a child’s life. It is during this time that the most brain and language development occurs. Effective early childhood educators have specific knowledge in how children develop physically, socially, emotionally and cognitively.

They also understand best practices for assessment, curriculum design and engaging families. Many of these practices are quite different from those in the upper elementary grades.

For example, in high quality kindergarten classrooms there is a large amount of time for different types of play. This is so children can develop social skills, oral language skills, motor skills, number concepts and an intrinsic need for written language. These classrooms look different from higher-grade classrooms.

Texas in the past decade has diminished its value of the field of early childhood education.

Texas used to require teachers to have special training in early childhood education to teach in pre-K or kindergarten classrooms. Now, Texas only requires a general certification that allows teachers to teach all kids from pre-K to sixth grade (3- to 12-year-olds) without any kind of specialized training in early childhood education.

Teaching 4-year-olds is quite a different experience than teaching 11-year-olds. Attempts to teach them in the same way can backfire.

Out of 16 Texas universities, only two offered more than two early childhood courses for certification. The lack of emphasis on the early grades means that teachers enter the classroom with little knowledge critical to be effective in an early childhood classroom.

Essentially, teachers can graduate with little to no coursework in teaching young children and are not required to demonstrate their knowledge in order to be certified by the state, but yet can be placed in a early childhood classroom to teach and care for young children.

Change must happen for the young children of Texas.

Current certification practices are not benefiting children. The new governor and many legislators have voiced interest in early education. Let’s make sure they provide the best for Texas.

Summerville is a graduate student in early childhood education at the University of Texas at Austin. Keys Adair is a professor of early childhood education at UT.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

COMMENTARY: Gorsuch’s convenient untruth about partisan judges

With a shrewdly calculated innocence, Judge Neil Gorsuch told a big fat lie at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday. Because it was a lie everyone expected, nobody called it that. “There’s no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge,” Gorsuch said. Gorsuch, the amiable veteran of many Republican campaigns, is well-placed...
Will Russiagate backfire on the left?

The big losers of the Russian hacking scandal may yet be those who invested all their capital in a script that turned out to based on a fairy tale. In Monday’s Intelligence Committee hearings, James Comey did confirm that his FBI has found nothing to support President Trump’s tweet that President Obama ordered him wiretapped. Not unexpected...
Abbott’s Texas stomps Austin, local governments
Abbott’s Texas stomps Austin, local governments

Governor Greg Abbott speaks before signing his new book ‘Broken but Unbowed’ as he launches his book tour at the Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Herman: JetBlue pays off with Zilker Botanical Garden project
Herman: JetBlue pays off with Zilker Botanical Garden project

Remember last year when Austin Mayor Steve Adler encouraged you to stuff the ballot box? And remember when some of you did? And remember when we won? We weren’t exactly sure what we had won, but we won. We found out this week what we won: Our prize package includes mulch. Lots of dark, mulch-smelling mulch. And much more than mulch. Let me explain...
And Jesus said unto Paul of Ryan …

A woman who had been bleeding for 12 years came up behind Jesus and touched his clothes in hope of a cure. Jesus turned to her and said: “Fear not. Because of your faith, you are now healed.” Then spoke Pious Paul of Ryan: “But teacher, is that wise? When you cure her, she learns dependency. Then the poor won’t take care of...
More Stories