Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, M.S. SpEd
Preschool teachers throughout the state of Iowa are electing to return to school in order to earn additional certification now required of them under Iowa code. The Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program recently issued a new mandate to participating school districts throughout the state of Iowa requiring preschool educators to have an early childhood endorsement in addition to a bachelor’s degree in education. Most teachers will end up having to take between three and five additional classes in order to earn the endorsement, a task that will take most of them between nine and twelve months to complete.
The statewide program was established in 2007 in an effort by the state to provide financial assistance to school districts to make sure that early childhood education programs are available to students in those districts. Of the 346 school districts throughout the state of Iowa, 320 of them are expected to participate in the program. The consensus among preschool teachers who are faced with the additional requirements seems to be that they understand the need for them but that they cause something of a slowdown in their individual careers because of the additional time commitment. Representatives of the school districts themselves are also a bit put off by the requirements because it reduces the number of qualified preschool teachers that are available to teach students.
State representatives are aware of the issues that have arisen for teachers and districts in regard to the requirements and say that they are allowing teachers to take on classrooms with a provisional endorsement while they are in school taking classes toward earning the additional certification. According to representatives with the Northwest Area Education Agency, the allowance of provisional licenses has been helpful in allowing districts to fill their need for preschool teachers.