Dr. Marcy Whitebook has been part of the early education world since the early 1970s, when she graduated college and went to work as a preschool teacher. Today she’s the director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC Berkeley. As part of a new, occasional Question and Answer series with leaders in California education, EdSource Today’s Lillian Mongeau sat down with Whitebook in her office in January.
The conversation delved into several issues, but dwelt on the current debate over how much training and education should be required for preschool teachers. Most early education classrooms have a “classroom teacher” or “lead teacher” as well as one or more “assistant teachers.” Right now, the only requirement for lead teachers is that they have a certificate, called a Child Development Associate, that requires a few semesters of coursework and some experience in the classroom. Head Start has been pushing for more of its lead teachers to earn a bachelor’s degree and, as we reported, that push has gained traction in California. There is not much discussion about requiring bachelor’s degrees for assistant teachers, though many of them pursue the degree in order to move up and become a lead teacher.