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The changing portrait of center-based preschool teachers: 1990 and 2012


Preschool teachers are widely acknowledged as critical to supporting the school readiness of children, yet remain under-paid relative to their education levels and have high rates of turnover relative to the U.S. workforce as a whole. Federal and state policies affect preschool teachers through education and training requirements, as well as guidelines affecting subsidy reimbursement rates, for example. Because these policies are focused on low-income children, they disproportionately experience the impacts. The present study describes trends affecting the racial-ethnic composition, education and experience, and compensation and turnover of preschool teachers of 3-5-year olds in ECE programs receiving and not receiving public funds between 1990 and 2012 - two years when nationally representative data are available. Data sources are the Profile of Child Care Settings (1990) and the National Survey of Early Care and Education (2012). Results indicate that, while the experience and education levels of teachers have increased over this 22-year period, wages have remained flat. Access to health insurance, in contrast, has improved over time and turnover rates have declined. The race-ethnic composition of the preschool teaching workforce also shifted during this time period, revealing a notable loss of Black teachers. Comparisons of programs receiving and not receiving public funds, and among those receiving different sources of public funds - CCDBG/CCDF subsidies, Head Start funds, pre-K funds - identified disparities within survey years, as well as differing trends over time. Results have implications for policies to support teachers and young children. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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