Listen to Democratic lawmaker Chris Thyer
So a 21-year-old person straight out of some college or university that happens
to have a sheet of paper is more qualified in these programs than someone that’s
been doing it for 20 years
I must agree with him. I'm was licensed at the Master's level to be a certified public school early childhood teacher, but in my six years in early childhood education (not just teaching, but parent involvement, and administrative), I would be foolish to think that I know more than a 25+ grandmother who has been working in the field all of her life. The deaconess who teaches the 5-7 year olds in my church worked for 30 years as an early childhood teacher assistant and was uncertified. I could never say that I know more than she does about young children.
Degrees do two things for the early childhood teaching field: (1) they standardize the process of training an early childhood teacher--which is ultimately the most cost efficient and (2) they control the field by determining what ought to be taught, how something ought to be taught, and WHO should teach in general. Little, unfortunately, has to do with knowledge, talent, and ability. Of course many people will say "Well, if you get a degree, you have knowledge and ability and some talent at least". I say that it depends on how one sees the function of a degree. College degrees, in my opinion, are only formalized contracts that show you have met the standards of the governing system. It doesn't have anything to do with knowledge, ability, and talent.
Granted that plenty of research supports a link between quality education at any level and the education of the teacher (Cochran-Smith & Zeichner, 2005) or the quality of child care and the degree of the teacher (Zigler, Gilliam, & Jones, 2006). Structural qualities do not always determine the quality of a process or service. It takes an equal dose of community perspective and goal formation on behalf of the parents who will send their children to teachers and the the teachers themselves. Most parents prefer a deconstructing teacher who thinks outside of the box to meet their child's needs in a postive, nurturing, responsive, consistent, and interactive fashion(Bredekamp & Copple, Berger, 2007) than one who is conservative, uninventive, and routinized.
It's nice to have a degree, but you do not need one for that.
Berger, E.H. (2007). Parents as partners in education: Families and schools working together. Boston: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Bredekamp, S. & Copple, C. (1997). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
Cochran-Smith, M. & Zeichner, K.M. (2005). Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Zigler, E., Gilliam, W.S., & Jones, S.M. (2006). A vision for universal preschool education. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.