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The Future of Early Childhood Education Essay

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 for basic skills, like reading, writing, and in teaching.

Almost all states require the teacher to exhibit proficiency in his or her subject. The number of teachers employed is not only dependent on how much the state and local government has set aside in its legislation to increase the quantity and quality in its districts. At the Federal level, the No Child Left Behind Act has recently been enacted. Although the full impact of this act is not yet known, its emphasis on ensuring that all schools hire and retain only qualified teachers, should lead to an increase in funding for schools that currently lack such teachers.

The purpose of this legislation has been to increase the quality of the teachers in the workforce. To achieve this goal school systems are working to create a performance-based system for licensure. This would mean that not only would teachers have to have experience, but would have to show reasonable results for a defined period of time before they would be granted a provisional license. Due to No Child Left Behind Act, the test scores that their students attain will undoubtedly measure a teacher’s performance.

All this would be in addition to passing a standardized exam in one’s subject. Once a teacher is licensed, most states require continued education in order to have that license renewed. Licensing requirements for preschool teachers are also different in each state. Requirements for public preschool teachers are usually higher than those for private preschool teachers. Some states require a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, others require an associate’s degree, and still others require certification by a nationally recognized authority.

The Child Development Associate credential, the most common type of certification, requires a mix of classroom training and experience working with children, along with an independent assessment of an individual’s competence. In 2002, the average annual salaries of kindergarten, elementary, and middle school teachers were reported to be forty to forty five thousand dollars a year or greater, with the lowest salaries recorded as twenty five thousand a year and the highest being seventy thousand a year. These salaries differ according to the location of the teacher.

For example, teachers in wealthier suburban communities tend to earn more than teachers in urban schools. Also, while public schoolteachers tend to earn an average of forty five thousand dollars a year, private school teachers earn an average of fifteen thousand less. By the year 2012, the Board of Labor estimates the median salary of early childhood teachers to be approximately ninety thousand dollars, with the high salaries reaching as high as one hundred and ten thousand dollars a year. In addition to their salaried, teachers can increase their earnings in several ways.

Most public schools, and some private, pay teachers bonuses for coaching sports or working with extra curricular activities. Some public schools pay teachers up to twenty dollars an hour for the overtime work, which can increase their annual income by an average of fifteen thousand dollars a year. Teachers can also raise their salary by getting a greater degree, like a national certification, master’s, or PhD. Several teacher also choose to work threw their summer breaks for additional income, by teaching summer school or pervading other labor for the school district.

While there is no estimates on how much teachers supplemental income is expected to increase by 2012, is it safe to assume that any benefits and bonuses will increase as well, in order to make teaching more attractive to qualified professionals. Standards of living are very subjective; it is possible that no two people would be able to decide what the standard is for a comfortable lifestyle. Our lifestyle depends on a great many things, our different taste, values, background and culture. However a survey of early education teachers in the New Jersey area shows that most teachers currently enjoy a lower middle class lifestyle.

A majority of teachers feel that teaching affords them a comfortable lifestyle. Many live in suburban neighborhoods, own their own homes, own cars, are able to safe for the future, and have a little extra income for luxuries like fine dinning and vacations. Currently, teachers that enjoy this lifestyle are married and live in a multiple income household. However, most teachers that are entry level and rely on a single income find themselves living from paycheck to paycheck. While they feel they have enough to support themselves, they are not afforded the luxuries that their tenured, double income colleagues enjoy.

However the future looks bright for early childhood teachers. The average salary for teachers is expected to more than double in the next ten years, from the current average of forty thousand to an expected average of ninety thousand by 2012. Salaries for some are expected to be as high as one hundred and ten thousand, depending on the region and subject taught. Salaries this high would allow teachers depending on only one income to enjoy the same luxuries that their married colleagues enjoy today, and teacher that life in multiple income households are expected to enjoy an upper middle class lifestyle.

However, some people might notice that prices are higher today than they where ten years ago, and it seems that every year the average cost of living keeps increasing. This phenomenon is called inflation. Just because teachers will make more money in the future does not mean that that they’re standards of living will increase, because the cost of living will also be higher in the next ten years. To determine if there will be an increase in the standards of living for early high school teachers, we have to compare the increase in their salaries to the expected rate of inflation.

Within the next ten years teachers salaries are expected to increase by over fifty percent, while leading economist in the United States Federal Reserve Bank expect inflation in the same period of time to be only eighteen percent. This means salaries are expected to increase more than the cost of living is expected to increase, which means teachers will have more purchasing power. Using these estimates, a salary of ninety thousand in 2012 has the same purchasing power as a seventy five thousand dollar a year salary does today.

Even taking inflation into account the standards of living for teachers will increase within the next ten years, but there are more factors than just income than affect people’s lifestyles. Most people on the United States value their family and health as much, if not more, than how much money they make. In a survey of early childhood teachers in New Jersey, most teachers valued the ability to finish work at a reasonable hour and spend more time with their family when asked what they valued most about their careers.

Having a two month vacation also allows for more leisure time and, and time to be spent with family. Many teachers also have excellent benefits, provided by either the government or teachers unions. “In 2002, more than half of all elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers belonged to unions? mainly the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association? that bargain with school systems over wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment” (Outlook). Unions also bargain for increased benefits, including medical, dental and vision benefits for teachers and their dependents.

How much a person makes and the things they can afford are not the only factors that affect your life style. For some people money may not be important, they may not value compensation as highly as they value personal fulfillment from what they do for a living. Some people need the satisfaction that they are making a difference in the world, and have the desire to do something meaningful with their lives. For people with these values, seeing students develop new skills and gain an appreciation of knowledge and learning can be very rewarding.

In this sense, a career in early childhood education also provides. Our society values the importance of teachers as much, if not more than the importance of doctors. Preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school teachers play a vital role in the development of children. What children learn and experience during their early years can shape their views of themselves and the world and can affect their later success or failure in school, work, and their personal lives. Preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school teachers introduce children to mathematics, language, science, and social studies.

They use games, music, artwork, films, books, computers, and other tools to teach basic skills. Preschool children learn mainly through play and interactive activities. Preschool teachers capitalize on children’s play to further language and vocabulary development (using storytelling, rhyming games, and acting games), improve social skills (having the children work together to build a neighborhood in a sandbox), and introduce scientific and mathematical concepts (showing the children how to balance and count blocks when building a bridge or how to mix colors when painting).

Thus, a less structured approach, including small-group lessons, one-on-one instruction, and learning through creative activities such as art, dance, and music, is adopted to teach preschool children. Play and hands-on teaching also are used in kindergarten classrooms, but there academics begin to take priority. Primarily kindergarten teachers teach letter recognition, phonics, numbers, and awareness of nature and science, introduced at the preschool level. Teachers design classroom presentations to meet students’ needs and abilities. They also work with students individually.

Teachers plan, evaluate, and assign lessons; prepare, administer, and grade tests; listen to oral presentations; and maintain classroom discipline. They observe and evaluate a student’s performance and potential and increasingly are asked to use new assessment methods. Including school duties performed outside the classroom, many teachers work more than forty hours a week. Part-time schedules are more common among preschool and kindergarten teachers. Although some school districts have gone to all-day kindergartens, most kindergarten teachers still teach two kindergarten classes a day.

Most teachers work the traditional ten-month school year with a two-month vacation during the summer One of today’s biggest political issues has been that of Social Security, and the fear that there will not be enough money to cover all the people that are currently in the workforce. It is scary, but people that are thirties years old now might not be able to retire under social security, even though they have been paying into it for the past ten years. However, this is a problem that most new teachers will not have to live in fear of.

In his 2005 State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush made a promise that all municipal workers will be guaranteed a pension when they retire. Weeks later a Federal Commission started planned a new defined contribution pension plan. The new plan resembles what is commonly called a defined benefit plan, which was a popular pension plan for large corporations up until the 1990’s when 401k retirement plans became popular. The appeal of the defined benefit plan is that it guarantees you a fixed monthly income for the years you are expected to live after retirement.

The amount of that monthly income is based on the salary you have when you’re working, and is designed to maintain your same standards of living that you enjoyed while working. Unlike the 401k, the employer funds a defined benefit plan. Most States have tenure laws that prevent teachers from being fired without just cause and due process. Teachers may obtain tenure after they have satisfactorily completed a probationary period of teaching, normally three years. Tenure does not absolutely guarantee a job, but it does provide some security. In conclusion, increasing enrollment in the school system is increasing demand for new teachers.

New legislation to increase the quality of education, barriers of entry, as well as a large number of teachers reaching the age of retirement is reducing the supply of qualified teachers. As a result, according to the theory of supply and demand, the price that society must pay for qualified teachers must increase. Salaries for teachers must increase in order to attract enough teachers to fill the demand that society has for them. The greater the gap between supply and demand, the greater the price must increase in order to fill the gap. As salaries increase, so will the standards of living for teachers.

A teachers salary will not only provide a person with the means to make a living, but they will also have expendable income for savings and luxuries that will lead to a more comfortable life style. Most teachers will also have benefits that will provide for their well being and health, as well as the health of their families. They will have more time off than other professionals, which will provide them the luxury of pursuing other interests outside of their career. This includes taking vacation, exploring other career opportunities, or just spending time with their families.

State employed teachers will not have to worry about retirement, because they are guaranteed a pension salary once they retire. Teachers will not have to stress or fear for the future like some other members of the workforce who were relying on social security. Early childhood teachers also have the satisfaction of having a career in one of the most respected professions in our society. They will have to fulfillment of knowing that what they do makes a difference. Works Cited Case, Karl E. “Principles of Macroeconomics” Sixth Edition. Prentice Hall Van Dalen, Deobold B.

“Looking Ahead To Teaching” Allyn and Bacon, Inc. Boston. Kahn, Alfred J. “Child Care: Facing the Hard Choices” Auburn House Publishing Company. Massachusetts. “Occupational Outlook Handbook” U. S. Department of Labor http://stats. bls. gov/search/ooh. asp? qu=teachers&ct=OOH (2005) “Critical Issues Facing the Teaching Profession” The South Carolina Center for Teacher Recrutement (2004) http://www. cerra. org/sectionone. pdf Cameron, Bruce “New municiple fund may well be the shape of things to come” August 14, 2004 Personal Finance Magazine.

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