families to care for other children. “We are going to have to increase pay. That to me is a no-brainer,” she observed.
Specific interventions also bear promise. For example, a program at Stanford called Jumpstart gives students a year-long seminar in early childhood education along with 6 hours per week spent in a low-income community working with preschool children. “These bright, energetic undergraduates are totally hooked by the time they finish the year,” Stipek said, “if they are not going into early childhood education, many of them end up going into K-12 education.” However, they will not stay in early childhood education unless their pay and the respect they are accorded by the rest of society improves. In countries that compare favorably to the United States in educational performance, educators are paid well relative to other professions and education is a highly respected profession. “We don’t have that in the United States,” Stipek said. “Partly it is because people underestimate the difficulty. They think that [working with] young children is babysitting. They do not understand the many interconnected domains of development that teachers need to understand and promote, especially if we want to close the achievement gap.”