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The Furture of Early Childhood Education

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The Future of Early Childhood Education

If you ask someone to list for you the most important jobs of our society, teachers always make the list sometimes beating out careers like doctor or lawyer. Ironically, for a career we value so much, teaching has never been a well paying profession. But times are about to change. Due to an increasing demand and a fixed supply, salaries for early education teachers are expected to increase within the next decade. The United States Board of Labor ranks this career as one of the highest paying of the next ten years, with an expected median tenure salary of over ninety thousand by the year 2012. Even taking into account inflation, working conditions, and different people's preferred lifestyle, it is reasonable to say that a career in early childhood education can provide a very comfortable living.

The law of supply and demand helps us understand how price is set in our society. It states that if the supply of a good increases, or if the demand of a good decreases, then the price of the good drops. The opposite is also true, if the supply decreases and the demand increases, than a good becomes more expensive. The theory of supply and demand is very powerful, and can be applied to many different things. In this paper, it will be used to explain why teachers' salaries are expected to increase a great deal. The number of teachers will be the supply, the need for teachers will be the demand, and salaries will be the price that will be affected.

In 2002 there were over two million positions for early education teachers in the United States. Of the teachers in those jobs, "about 1.5 million were elementary school teachers, 424,000 were preschool teachers, and 168,000 were kindergarten teachers"(Outlook). The majority of these teachers worked for the local government educational services, with about ten percent working for private schools. While the majority of preschool teachers are employed by child daycare services. Geographically, teaching positions vary with the population. Highly populated areas have more employment opportunities.

Every year, a greater number of students enroll into the United States school system. More students increase the need for more schools and qualified teachers. In addition to the population growth, a number of initiatives have been implemented in a few states, but not nationwide, to improve the quality of education. The initiatives include the reduction of class size in the early elementary grades, mandatory preschool for four year olds, and all-day kindergarten. More teachers will be needed than are currently available if states and their local districts plan to enact any of these measures, preschool and early elementary school teachers are particularly in demand.

Job openings for early childhood teachers within the next ten years are expected to be excellent. This is due in part to a government plan to great new teaching jobs. In the "1999 federal budget, Congress allocated funding to hire approximately 30,000 new teachers nationwide"(section1). However the number of openings depends on locality, grade level, and subjects taught. "These funds are targeted for needy school districts as part of a seven-year plan to hire 100,000 new teachers"(section 1). These new openings will appear in poorer communities were salaries are currently lower, however because of the limited supply of teachers they will have to compete with wealthy distracts in order to attract teachers. Schools will be forced to raise salaries, bonuses, and benefits to attract teachers to these new jobs.

These new jobs created by the government are not the only openings for teachers expected in the next ten years. Most job openings will be due to the expected retirement of a large number of teachers. Approximately half of the early childhood teachers in the workforce today are expected to retire within the next ten years. Studies estimate a demand of well over two million new teachers to fill these positions. Adding to the demand is the high turnover rate among new teachers and teachers working in poorer urban schools.

Replacing all these teachers would be like trying to replace ever doctor in the United States today, but why will we need all these teachers? The children of the "baby boomer" generation are getting older, doesn't that mean that we are expecting a lower enrollment for earlier grades? No, in fact the opposite is true. Student enrollments will still be a key factor in the demand for teachers, in the next ten years. While the number or students expected to enter the school system is expected to rise at a slower rate than in the past, the expected number is still growing; resulting in average employment growth for all early childhood teachers.

While the demand for teachers is increasing, the supply of teachers has been decreasing steadily since the 1970's. Historically, teachers have been paid significantly less than other professionals with their same level of education. Because of this, people have been more attracted to pursuing careers in business, medicine, or law, which have typically paid more. This resulted in few new entries into the teaching professionals, and an aging of the professionals currently working. As the demand for teachers increases in the next decade, more than half of those currently teaching will retire by 2012.

While there is a great need for new teachers, there are barriers of entry into the profession that reduces the amount of people that are qualified to enter the field. "All 50 States and the District of Columbia require public school teachers to be licensed. Licensure is not required for teachers in private schools. Usually licensure is granted by the State Board of Education or a licensure advisory committee. Teachers may be licensed to teach the early childhood grades (usually preschool through grade 3); the elementary grades (grades 1 through 6 or 8); the middle grades (grades 5 through 8); a secondary-education subject area (usually grades 7 through 12); or a special subject, such as reading or music (usually grades kindergarten through 12)" (Outlook)

The requirements for the regular license to teach kindergarten threw twelfth grade are different depending on the state. But no matter which state you apply, all prospective teachers are required to have a bachelor's degree, a specified number of subject and education credits in an approved teacher-training program, and have to have supervised practice in teaching in a classroom environment. Different states have additional requirements, like having to complete a master's degree, having to have graduated with a certain grade point average, or special technological training. Most states require applicants to be tested



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