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News - World Headlines

School-Age Children Notice Low Wage and Low Qualifications of Teachers in Early Childhood Education and Write to Politicians



Alaska, May 2012 - Childcare took on a whole new meaning for the seventh-graders at the Juneau Community Charter School who, as just kids themselves, helped out at childcare centres and in their school’s second-grade classroom for their community service project.

“In their classroom they first learn about child development and developmentally appropriate practice in childcare programmes. Armed with that knowledge they then spend an hour a week in classrooms at local childcare centres. They help with the daily routines of the children and try to learn technique from the staff,” Blue Shibler, owner of Discovery Preschool, said.

According to Shibler, the students were observant and curious, asking questions that went beyond best practices for caring for young children.

“Our discussion started with the children noticing that some of my employees seemed to be more knowledgeable and more effective than others. We talked about how most people who work in this industry do not have a college education because the wages are low.” Shibler said, “We then compared some statistical data from the Juneau Economic Development Council, which compared salaries of childcare workers to those of school district teachers. The children were shocked at the discrepancy because they had just learned that the first five years of life are the most important in terms of development.”

The students were so concerned by the financial difficulty of running a childcare and preschool facility that they wrote a letter to their legislators, detailing some of their experiences.

Student Summer Putman wrote, “I want the legislators to fund some of the cost of running a childcare. It isn’t funded like elementary, middle and high school. Parents of young children have to pay heavy expenses to send their kids to daycare…”

Student Nelli Wayne wrote: “It was a lot of fun working in daycares such as Puddle Jumpers and Discovery Preschool, but I learned about some problems surrounding daycare programmes. One of those problems was the fact that the majority of the people who choose daycare as a job don’t have a college education.”

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