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Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity
viduals who work in settings that support early childhood education (e.g., resource and referral coordinators).
In this chapter, we begin by discussing the nature of the current early childhood workforce. We first present information on this workforce in general, discussing characteristics about the teachers themselves, including age, gender, ethnicity, educational experience, and background and key variables that influence their work, including compensation, turnover, work settings, and beliefs. We then turn to a more specific discussion of the early childhood workforce from a mathematical perspective. In the second section, we discuss the nature of the professional development of the workforce, first addressing the professional development of early childhood teachers in general and then turning to mathematics-specific professional development.
BACKGROUND ON THE WORKFORCE
Over 50 percent of U.S. families with children under the age of 5 rely on nonparental care (Chernoff et al., 2007), and thus the ECE workforce is responsible for the care and education of large numbers of the nation’s young children. The early childhood workforce is fairly large, comprising 2.3 million individuals (Burton et al., 2002) and dispersed: About 24 percent work in centers, 28 percent in family child care, and 48 percent in informal family, friend, and neighbor (FFN) settings (Burton et al., 2002). It is important to note that although most early childhood care providers work in FFN settings the majority of children attend center-based programs in which the child-to-teacher ratio is higher (Burton et al., 2002). The focus of this section is on teachers in center-based and FCC settings.
According to national averages, the ECE teaching workforce is mainly comprised of white women in their late 30s and 40s (Saluja, Early, and Clifford, 2002); however, race/ethnicity varies across state and program type (see Table 8-1 for a breakdown of early childhood educators by race/ethnicity). For example, the Head Start and home-based early child care teaching workforce is more ethnically balanced than the prekindergarten workforce (Early et al., 2005; Hart and Schumacher, 2005). In addition, in certain parts of the country, for example, Alameda County, California, the early childhood education and care workforce is more ethnically diverse. Three-quarters of the family child care centers there are staffed by women of color (Whitebook and Bellm, 2004). Also, in the population as a whole, there are increasingly more children who speak English as a second language (as cited in Hart and Schumacher, 2005), and thus there is a need for