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

Young: Trump’s deregulatory fury will threaten American lives
Young: Trump’s deregulatory fury will threaten American lives

The killers were silent, but the sensors at my feet were screaming out their names. I was in a plane flying over the Houston Ship Channel to see air pollution. A Baylor University scientist had invited me. The cramped single-engine had barely room for me and the sensors coughing out data on the nitrogen dioxide, particulates and hydrocarbons being...
Letters to the editor: Sept. 26, 2018
Letters to the editor: Sept. 26, 2018

On immigration, Cruz is on the wrong side I am what Sen. Cruz called a “good legal immigrant” at the senatorial debate. Coming from Denmark I went through all the Kafkaesque bureaucracy and became a citizen. Yet, unlike Cruz, my newfound citizenship is no less valuable to me should the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrant Americans...
Opinion: University corruption

I’m thankful that increasing attention is being paid to the dire state of higher education in our country. Heather Mac Donald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, has just published “The Diversity Delusion.” Its subtitle captures much of the book’s content: “How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine...
Letters to the editor: Sept. 25, 2018
Letters to the editor: Sept. 25, 2018

Query: What are the Republican senators and Chuck Grassley afraid of? What is President Donald Trump afraid of? They all do not want an FBI investigation into the events leading to the accusation of sexual assault, attempted rape of Dr. Ford, by then-high school student Brett Kavanaugh. Why? Many years ago, during another Supreme Court Justice Senate...
Commentary: Fathers need to remember that their sons are watching

CHICAGO — What’s it like to be a boy these days? It’s a frequent thought for me as I navigate my son’s 17th year of life in a world where the scourge of toxic masculinity shares the public consciousness with admiration of spectacularly muscled sports stars and big-screen superheroes whose worth is predicated on their physical...
More Stories