A recent study by Margaret Boyd “I love my work but…” The Professionalization of Early Childhood Education found that only 47% of early childhood teachers plan to remain in the profession. Another Australian study found that 1 in 5 plan to leave the sector within the next 12 months. This is frightening because we need qualified and experienced early childhood teachers if we want the future of our society to be capable, strong and active citizens. Research shows that poor early childhood brain development and experiences has negative effects in later life. Quality Early Childhood Education has many benefits. For instance, children who receive quality learning experiences are more likely to graduate college, less likely to be incarcerated and more likely to own their own homes! So why don’t we invest in Early Childhood Education (ECE) and why do so many teachers plan to leave a profession that they love? Boys (2013) found reasons why this may be.
Long hours, with no reward
Boy (2013) found that many teachers have more than one job and spend upwards of 35-40 hours per week working.
One teacher states….
“I have children that come at 6 a.m., there are those that come at 8 a.m., children come at 11a.m. I finish at 9 p.m. and some nights I have a group that finishes at 11 p.m. but mostly it is 9 p.m. This is because the parents come from school.”
These 35-40 hours excluded the work they took home in the evenings.Work which they don’t get paid any extra for. In my opinion, teachers do this work because they love the children in their care and want to do the best for them. They spend hours planning and their own money to buy resources. Actually, the market for pre-k is worth well over $8.38 bn. Even though teachers don’t get paid very well for the most part, they spend a lot of their pay check on ensuring that they provide the best possible learning experiences for children in their care.
“Well last time I spent close to $100 because I wanted to make a farm and I had to spend a lot of money. I wanted to do a water table but there was really nothing to put into it so I had to go out to buy it. I keep saying I am not going to do it but you look around and you have to. If we do anything with the kids we buy our own stuff.”
Credentials, Compensation and Long-term Plans
Even though 47% said they were leaving ECEC, they had no plans to leave the education sector. They were just moving to better paid posts (primary school education or special needs educators).
Boyd argues that…
“This study indicates that teacher retention continues to be a critical issue for early education. The demand for higher education and further professional development training will ensure early educators have the necessary skills and expertise but may also raise expectations and provide access to better jobs.”
Even though teachers love their jobs and many might even see it as a vocation. Does this mean that they should not be compensated appropriately for their jobs? Does that mean that they should not receive ongoing professional support? Does that mean that they should have to leave a job that they love, a job that they excel in just because they cannot pay their bills? #recognitionforece.