Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, M.S. SpEd
The United Way of Tuscon and Southern Arizona and local agencies have collaborated to offer continuing education to those who are working with preschool age children. The agency, Great Expectations for Teachers, Children and families helps teachers find funding to pursue higher education degrees like associates and bachelor degrees.
Great Expectations distributed $1.2 million dollars in awards to 10 schools and agencies in the Southern Arizona area during the last fiscal year. The funding has enabled the doubling of college graduates in Pima County since 2009. It has also helped graduate five students with master’s degrees through the University of Arizona.
Advocacy groups and local agencies are beginning to educate the public on the importance of early childhood education and the teachers that provide it. Author of “Do the Right Thing for Children, Maurice Sykes feels that higher educated preschool teachers are a necessity.
Joe Snell, president of Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities concurs stating, “Investments in talent development start with early education, as the foundation for long-term economic development success.
In addition to placing importance on higher education for teachers, the need for higher pay for these teachers is becoming more apparent. The cost of child care is skyrocketing while the average pay for a preschool teacher remains slightly more than minimum wage. Though teachers are being encouraged to learn more, their earnings are not reflecting their education.
Local preschools are stepping up when they can and trying to pay their teachers a higher wage. Gentle Hands, a local preschool has begun offering additional pay towards insurance policies to help teachers have extra incentive pay to reward their hard work.
And if the pay still isn’t enough, Naomi Karp of the United Way of Tucson explains that the knowledge teachers receive can’t be taken away through Great Expectations can’t be taken from them and there are other avenues, such as administration work within the preschool system that can be pursued while staying in the same field.