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Early Ed Watch

A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

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Federal Teacher Programs: Are Pre-K Teachers Part of the Picture?

Published:  June 29, 2010
Our colleagues at the Federal Education Budget Project have just released a valuable resource – a one-stop-shop for information on the size, scope and purpose of federal programs that support teacher training and development programs. Their work helps provide clarity on the many different federal teacher programs.  It is titled Federal Programs for K-12 Teachers.
There’s a backstory to that title that highlights a key problem for early educators. Notice that the title says K-12 and not pre-K-12. Why? Because it is often unclear whether these programs can be used by pre-kindergarten teachers. This ambiguity is often raised as an issue by pre-kindergarten teachers who are interested in attending professional development programs but whose administrators lack any clear guidance on whether they would be permitted to use federal funds for their training and development.

In fact, the Early Education Initiative and several other groups called out this ambiguity in a consensus letter to Congress this spring. As we wrote:

Teachers in federal, state- and district-funded early childhood programs should be explicitly included in all ESEA programs that seek to improve teacher quality. In the current law, sections on Improving Teacher Quality State Grants (Title II), Troops to Teachers, and the Teacher Incentive Fund are not always clear about their applicability to state-funded pre-k teachers or to teachers in child care centers that contract with local educational agencies. That should change.
We would love to hear from Early Ed Watch readers about their experiences with this ambiguity around the definition of teacher. For those of you in school districts, do your schools or colleagues participate in these teacher programs – and are pre-K teachers part of the picture? 

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