Our goal is a qualified, diverse, supported and fairly compensated early childhood workforce. We have been working with Minnesota Education Equity Partnership (MnEEP) and TEACH Strong 2020 to diversify the teaching workforce, including early childhood teachers. In the next ten years, we will need approximately 53,000 new early childhood educators. Not all of these will be licensed teachers but we need to have a better system for educating and preparing early childhood educators.
In our outreach with the early childhood workforce and faculty at institutes of higher education, we heard from many of you with your concerns about the current early childhood teacher license. The issues identified fall into two general categories: 1) those related to the developmental needs and best interests of children and 2) those related to the desire for a streamlined and efficient processes.
Recommendations Regarding the Developmental Needs and Best Interests of Children:
- The current licensure is not as aligned as it should be with the Knowledge and Competencies that are for early learners. The current licensure may not adequately prepare teachers to successfully support all learners, especially students with special needs, students of color and students who are dual language learners.
- Children need to have teachers who look like them. The licensing system needs to support diversification of the teaching field.
- We need to figure out the best license configuration to meet young children’s developmental needs. The current B – 3rdgrade license is heavy on early elementary and too light on development needs of younger children. Early Childhood Teachers also need to be skilled in partnering with and supporting families with children in each of the development phases. The limited resources available in higher education has led to a heavy focus on early elementary in licensure programs at the expense of infants, toddlers, pre-primary children and their families. There is great interest in creating a licensure structure that is more responsive to the needs of young children and their families.
Recommendations Regarding a More Streamlined and Efficient Process:
- Revisit the number of standards.
- Provide credit for prior learning and alternate ways of demonstrating knowledge and competence.
- Create a more efficient way to treat licenses from other states.
- Address impacts of systemic and institutional racism.
- Involve the entire pathway – including coursework at 2-year colleges as well as other credit and non-credit trainings.
- Ensure that Data systems talk to each other and support work without duplication of effort.
On September 20, 2019, a group of approximately 30 early childhood faculty and educators came together for a facilitated discussion about early childhood licensure. See attached PowerPoint for more information. Attendees got an overview of the current licensure status in Minnesota, a scan of what other states and professions are doing and then had a discussion of possibilities for future options in Minnesota.
The goal is to produce consensus as well as a draft of revised early childhood licensing standards that we will give to the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB). PELSB has committed to putting a draft out for rulemaking.
Many if these ideas are outlined in the Power to the Profession’s Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Profession, linked below. This national initiative gives a framework for sates to set up their Early Childhood Field to meet these goals and support educators.
Documents for December 6, 2019 Meeting: Stakeholder Feedback Questions, Vision, Proposed Standards
Below are documents distributed at our September meeting:
NAEYC’s Power to the Profession: Unifying Framework
New America: One Size Doesn’t Fit All: The Need for Specialized Teacher Licenses in the Early Grades
For more information, contact Carmen Cook at Carmen.firstname.lastname@example.org.