January 29, 2016
Dear Deans of Education,
The Minnesota Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (MnAECTE) needs your help advocating for the state’s youngest learners and the programs that prepare their teachers and caregivers. As a Dean overseeing these programs, we want to share some activities influencing our work right now.
First, the governor’s office and the legislature are working towards a plan that would provide universal preschool experiences for the 4-year olds in our state. Our programs need to be prepared for the resulting increase in demand for licensed Early Childhood teachers. The recent publication of Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation (Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, 2015) is guiding national and state policy on Early Childhood workforce issues. It recommends “a minimum bachelor’s degree qualification requirement, with specialized knowledge and competencies,” (in early childhood education) “for all lead educators working with children birth through age 8.” Right now in Minnesota, only “a quarter (23 percent) of Minnesota’s early childhood educators (licensed family child care providers, and center and preschool staff) are estimated to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a child-related field.” (Valarose & Chase, 2012). We have much work to do to meet this recommendation.
Second, it is critical that we figure out articulation with 2-year Early Childhood Education programs in the state. For the last couple of years, MnAECTE has worked with ACCESS (the state organization of 2- year Early Childhood faculty) to create a general approach to articulation between 2- and 4-year Early Childhood programs in the state. Our progress has come to a standstill due to uncertainties about what role A.A.S. and A.S. programs should play in teacher licensure programs. Because the Board of Teaching has authority in determining what is acceptable in addressing licensure standards, we have reached out to the executive director to help us with this and other issues. Early Childhood is the only discipline in the state that allows teachers to be prepared at less than the baccalaureate level. This has created unique challenges as we work to create clear career pathways in our field.
Third, our articulation work has also raised questions about the intersections between 2- and 4-year early childhood programs. Fortunately, the Minnesota Department of Education recently released a set of tools to help address these questions. The “Minnesota Knowledge and Competency Framework for Early Childhood Professionals” is a series of documents identifying different levels of competencies for the specialized knowledge and skills unique to early childhood. The documents were developed in partnership with various state stakeholders including institutions of higher education. Through grant funding, MDE is currently supporting efforts to clarify different competency levels in 2- and 4-year early childhood coursework. Please use the “Minnesota Knowledge and Competency Framework for Early Childhood Professionals” as a resource for discussion and decision-making in your Early Childhood Education Programs.
Finally, we have been working hard to build positive relationships with various governing bodies, agencies and organizations involved in Early Childhood Education throughout the state. Many stakeholders have goals geared toward ensuring all young children have access to high-quality early childhood experiences. In order to accomplish these goals, it is imperative we all work together to transform our current system into one that is intentionally organized, accessible and clearly aligned. We are committed to supporting one another in this work and ask your help as we strive to do right by our youngest learners and those who teach and care for them!
Thank you for your support and leadership!
MnAECTE Executive Board
Layna Cole, PhD; President, Minnesota State University Moorhead
June Reineke, ABD; Secretary, Winona State University
Jolene Pearson, ABD; Member at Large, Bethel University
Steven Reuter, PhD; Past-President, Mankato State University
Carmen Cook, MAEd (Doctoral Student); Treasurer, Metropolitan State University
Joan Sax-Bendix, EdD; Communications & Outreach, Winona State University
Karin Ihnen, MEd; St. Cloud State University
Ming Chi Own, PhD; St. Cloud State University
Heidi Frankard, PhD; Metropolitan State University
Karen Peterson-Kremer, MAED; Metropolitan State University
Erin Gillette, PhD; Minnesota State University-Moorehead
Marilyn Labrensz, MS; Minnesota State University-Moorehead
Sandi Baty, MEd; University of Northwestern, St. Paul
Carrie Brouse, PhD; Winona State University
Penny Warner, PhD; Winona State University
Sue Starks, EdD; Concordia University