Education Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-912

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE STAFF QUALIFICATIONS REQUIREMENT FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS.

Vote Date:

3/22/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/1/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Education Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The reason for this bill is to create two additional ways in which a teacher can meet state early childhood staff requirements. The first is having a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a concentration in early childhood education or similar area; the second is that individuals who already work in early child care may be “grandfathered in” without new requirements.

Substitute Language:

The substitute language for this bill provides the two new ways early childcare workers can meet staff qualification requirements and pushes the requirement dates out by one year until June 30, 2021 instead of June 30, 2020.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Linda Goodman, Acting Interim Commissioner, Office of Early Childhood (OEC):

Acting Commissioner Goodman testified on behalf of OEC in opposition to S.B. 912 and expressed concern that the implementation of S.B. 912 would discourage individuals from completing a full program of study in early childhood education.

OEC would support language approving out-of-state degree programs provided that the college or university is regionally accredited and that the early childhood program within said college or university is accredited by either the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or the Council for the Accreditation of Education Preparation (CAEP). Additionally, they note that the deletion of “or” in Section 1 of S.B. 912 is not recommended because such deletion would eliminate an individual's choice between the two tracks provided by the higher education system.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Dawn Dubay, School Readiness Facilitator, Middletown, CT:

Ms. Dubay testified in support of SB 912, asserting that expanding the allowable degrees to a Bachelor's in early childhood education, child study, child development, or human growth and development from any regionally accredited institution would help expand the limited list of colleges required to be considered a Qualified Staff Member in a classroom. Due to the field's demanding hours and relatively low pay, she notes that the requirements for Higher Education are a challenge for many teachers in the Early Childhood field.

Marc E. Jaffe, Chief Executive Officer, Children's Learning Centers of Fairfield County (CLC), Stamford, CT:

Mr. Jaffe spoke on behalf of CLC supporting S.B. 912 but requesting that language be added to the bill specifying that the institutions issuing an early childhood worker be regionally accredited.

John L. Cattelan, Executive Director, Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs:

Mr. Cattelan testified on behalf of the Connecticut Alliance of YMCAs, which supports the intent of S.B. 912 with the reservation that 12 credits in early childhood education is not enough to qualify an individual as an early childcare worker.

Mary Cecchinato, State Funded Centers Director's Forum:

The forum supports S.B. 912 but recommends the deletion of the following phrases from Section B and Section C: Section B “provided such associate degree program is approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education or the Office of Higher Education and the Office of Early Childhood”; Section C “provided such bachelor's degree program is approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Office of Early Childhood”; and for Section B delete (III) of the proposed new language and retain the original language of PA 15-134 that states "such bachelor degree shall include a concentration in early childhood education, including, but not limited to early childhood education, child study, child development, or human growth and development."

Currently, there are only 14 approved Early Childhood Teacher Credential (ECTC) approved colleges in Connecticut. The current language of the bill consequently limits the pool of qualified teachers and exacerbates the already difficult task of hiring teachers with a BA when compensation is stagnate and comparably low to other educational fields. In all, Ms. Cecchinato asks that you review the current system for teacher approval and provide flexibility and a more stream lined approach to staff qualifications that opens up the pool of teachers.

Eileen Costello, School Readiness Coordinator, CT:

Ms. Costello testified in support of SB 912 that expands the definition of a Qualified Staff Member in funded classrooms to include staff with a BA in a related field and 12 Early childhood credits. She asserts that from experience and observation as a School Readiness coordinator in Western CT, many of the staff have an Associates in Early Childhood Education (ECE) rather than a Bachelors, and these teachers are highly qualified and are excellent teachers regardless.

Michele Eathorne, Director of Curriculum and Communication at YWCA New Britain School-Readiness Childcare Program:

Ms. Eathrone testified on behalf of the School-Readiness Childcare Program to emphasize importance of qualified early childhood educators in areas such as New Britain where many children participating in early childcare programs are from low-income families. The program supports S.B. 912 in the interest of encouraging more people to enter the field of early childhood education.

Rita Esposito, Co-Chair of Hamden Partnership for Young Children:

Ms. Esposito testified in support of SB 912 which expands the Bachelor Degrees allowable to meet early childhood staff qualifications to regionally accredited institutions outside of Connecticut. She requests the legislature to vote in favor of this change to ensure appropriately trained and qualified educators for the state's youngest students.

Delean K. Goldsmith, Teacher, Torrington Child Care Center, Torrington, CT:

The forum supports S.B. 912 but recommends the deletion of the following phrases from Section B and Section C: Section B “provided such associate degree program is approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education or the Office of Higher Education and the Office of Early Childhood”; Section C “provided such bachelor's degree program is approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Office of Early Childhood”; and for Section B delete (III) of the proposed new language and retain the original language of PA 15-134 that states "such bachelor degree shall include a concentration in early childhood education, including, but not limited to early childhood education, child study, child development, or human growth and development."

Currently, there are only 14 approved Early Childhood Teacher Credential (ECTC) approved colleges in Connecticut. The current language of the bill consequently limits the pool of qualified teachers and exacerbates the already difficult task of hiring teachers with a BA when compensation is stagnate and comparably low to other educational fields. In all, Ms. Goldsmith asks that you review the current system for teacher approval and provide flexibility and a more stream lined approach to staff qualifications that opens up the pool of teachers.

Lillian Lanz, Owner and Director, Scotty's Kiddy Korner Preschool and Daycare, LLC, Ellington, CT:

Ms. Lanz testified in support of SB 912. She asks that the Senate consider Early Childhood Education staff with Associates degrees in Early Childhood Education as well as tenured staff with many years of experience.

Penny Lehman, Director of Program Services, Children's Learning Centers of Fairfield (CLC), Stamford, CT:

Ms. Lehman states that CLC supports S.B. 912 with modifications to Section 1, Subparagraph (B) and Section 1, Subparagraph (C) allowing the hiring of individuals with degrees from regionally accredited institutions. CLC specifically requests the following modifications to the proposed language: First, Section 1, Subparagraph (B): “provided such bachelor's degree program is approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education or the Office of Higher Education [and the Office of Early Childhood]” and regionally accredited.

Second, Section 1, Subparagraph (C ): “provided such bachelor's degree program is approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education or the Office of Higher Education [and the Office of Early Childhood”] and regionally accredited. Third, “Section 1, Subparagraph (B): “…or (III) a bachelor's degree and twelve credits or more in early childhood education or child development [or an advanced degree in early childhood education or child development, as determined by the commissioner or the president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, after consultation with the commissioner, from an institution of higher education accredited] approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education or Office of Higher Education, and regionally accredited…” Fourth, “Section 1, Subparagraph (C): “…or (iii) a bachelor's degree and twelve credits or more in early childhood education or child development [or an advanced degree in early childhood education or child development, as determined by the commissioner or the president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, after consultation with the commissioner, from an institution of higher education accredited] (I) approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education or Office of Higher Education, and (II) regionally accredited…”

Tracey Madden-Hennessey, Associate Director, YWCA New Britain:

Ms. Hennessey testified in support of SB 912. As an early childhood programmer, they see the impact that the current shortage of teachers has on classroom function. Despite recently becoming re-accredited and meeting high standards, there are times when they go for periods operating classrooms with substitutes or with Administrative fill-in's.

Deborah Monahan, Executive Director, Thames Valley Center for Community Action (TVCCA):

Ms. Monahan testified in support of the intent of SB 812. However, she asserts that the bill must go further by eliminating the language in the bill that gives Office of Early Childhood (OEC) and the Board of Regents approval authority. At present, the Office of Early Childhood has put in policy an unnecessary obstacle to achieving compliance for Qualified Staff Members (QSM) in classrooms by interpreting the law in an extraordinarily restrictive manner.

Specifically, a staff member must have their Bachelor's Degree in ECE from an approved Early Childhood Teaching Credential (ECTC) institution accepted by the Office of Early Childhood – and these colleges are only in Connecticut. TVCCA cannot support OEC's

requirement that the Bachelor's Degree come from a pre-determined, limited list of higher education institutions ONLY here in Connecticut.

Emilie Montgomery, Executive Director, Early Care and Education, Community Renewal Team (CRT):

Ms. Montgomery testified on behalf of CRT that S.B. 912 is in support but feels this bill does not do enough to widen the pool of early child care workers.

David Morgan, Executive Director, TEAM:

Mr. Morgan testified on behalf of TEAM in support S.B. 912 but recommends the deletion of the following phrases from Section B and Section C: Section B “provided such associate degree program is approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education or the Office of Higher Education and the Office of Early Childhood”; Section C “provided such bachelor's degree program is approved by the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the Office of Early Childhood”; and for Section B delete (III) of the proposed new language and retain the original language of PA 15-134 that states "such bachelor degree shall include a concentration in early childhood education, including, but not limited to early childhood education, child study, child development, or human growth and development."

Currently, there are only 14 approved Early Childhood Teacher Credential (ECTC) approved colleges in Connecticut. The current language of the bill consequently limits the pool of qualified teachers and exacerbates the already difficult task of hiring teachers with a BA when compensation is stagnate and comparably low to other educational fields. In all, Mr. Morgan asks that you review the current system for teacher approval and provide flexibility and a more stream lined approach to staff qualifications that opens up the pool of teachers.

James O'Rourke, Chief Executive Officer, Greater Waterbury YMCA:

Mr. O'Rourke supports the intent of S.B. 912; however, he feels that the acceptance of individuals with only 12 credits in early childhood education would be a detriment to the development of the early childhood education field in Connecticut. He recommends that Section B deleted (III) of the proposed new language and retain the original language of PA 15-134 that states "such bachelor degree shall include a concentration in early childhood education, including, but not limited to early childhood education, child study, child development, or human growth and development." Mr. O'Rourke also recommends the removal of the specification that bachelor's degrees must be approved by the Office of Early Childhood. This provision is seriously limiting the number of degreed, qualified teachers programs are able to hire.

Others in support of the bill included:

Susan Radway, Director, Riverfront Children's Center; Member, State Funded Centers Director's Forum

Karen Rainville, Executive Director, Bridge to Success Community Partnership, Waterbury

Ellen Reardon

Edie Reichard, Director, Sleeping Giant Day Care, Inc

Sheryl Skidd

Carol Smith, Director, Margaret C. Griffin Child Development Center of Southington, Inc

Kara Smith, Program Director, Bright and Early Learning center, Middletown, CT

Nicole Updegrove, Connecticut Voices for Children

Anna Witkowski, Children's Learning Centers (CLC)

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Paige M. Bray, EdD, Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Hartford:

Ms. Bray testified in opposition to SB 912. She strongly opposes the language in the bill permitting a BA in any major or field with only 12 credits in early childhood. This not only disregards the specific knowledge base, content and competencies that are ever expanding in the field of early childhood but also undermines the professional requirements for early childhood specific competencies.

Merrill Gay, Executive Director of Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance:

Mr. Gay testified on behalf of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance expressing concern that implementation of S.B. 912 will permit unqualified individuals to become early childhood teachers. The Alliance offers support of alternatives allowing the hiring of early childhood teachers who have a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education, Child Study, Child Development, or Human Growth and Development.

Diane Gozemba, Director, Early Childhood Intiatives at EASTCONN:

Ms. Gozemba spoke on behalf of Early Childhood Initiatives expressing concern that S.B. 912 will not provide the qualified staff required to instruct young children in an engaging manner that will encourage them to become lifelong learners. Ms. Gozemba recommends that current legislation to hire a “Qualified Staff Member (QSM)” is kept in place who have a concentration in early childhood or a related field. Moreover, she recommends the bill to allow early childhood professionals with a Bachelor's degree in early childhood, human growth and development, child development or child study from across the country to meet the teacher requirement for QSM that are accredited by their state and abides by NAEYC early childhood professional standards for teacher preparation and/or regional accrediting bodies.

Izzi Greenberg, Director, Middlesex Coalition for Children:

Ms. Greenberg comments that hiring teachers with only 12 credits in early childhood education would lower the quality of the education system and recommends instead that individuals with Bachelor's degrees in Early Childhood Education, Child Study, Child Development, or Human Growth and Development from a regionally accredited institution be allowed to become early childhood teachers.

Regina Miller, PhD, Emeritus Faculty Member, Early Childhood Education, University of Hartford:

Dr. Miller maintains that early childcare should be rising in quality and that S.B. 912 would lower it by reducing the qualifications needed for an early childhood educator, moving Connecticut further away from providing high quality early care and education to all young children.

Peg Oliveira, PhD, Executive Director, Gesell Institute of Childhood Development:

Dr. Oliveira expresses concern that S.B. 912 would take away from Connecticut's ability to provide quality early childhood care and education by lowering the standards for early childhood educators. Dr. Oliveira further recommends that Connecticut allow individuals with bachelor's degrees in Early Childhood, Child Study, Child Development, or Human Growth and Development from a regionally accredited college or university be allowed to work in early childcare.

Gwen Pastor, Policy Analyst, Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS):

Ms. Pastor testified on behalf of CAHS, expressing reservations regarding S.B. 912 on the grounds that it would lower the standards for early childcare and education in Connecticut.

JoAnn Robinson, PhD, Professor, Director of Early Childhood Education and Early Intervention, University of Connecticut:

Ms. Robinson testified in opposition to the bill. The creation of the Early Childhood Teacher Credential raised the bar for the faculty in training their early childhood teachers outside of the public school employment/certification track. They recognize its value and believe that to undo the legislation that requires it of our teachers for our most vulnerable children is a tremendous loss.

Diane Wallen, Teacher, YWCA New Britain:

Ms. Wallen recommends reconsideration of the exclusion of bachelor's degrees from colleges and universities outside of Connecticut. As a holder of a BA in Early Childhood Education from Ball State University in Indiana, she is saddened to see that she is not considered to have the appropriate staff qualifications to have the primary responsibility for a classroom of children. She feels that ALL individuals with bachelor's degrees from ALL accredited universities or colleges should be allowed to hold the required staff qualifications without further education or tests.

Elizabeth A. Aschenbrenner, Coventry, CT: Ms. Aschenbrenner opposes S.B. 912 upon the claim that children should have care provided by individuals with more qualifications than are specified in S.B. 912.

Reported by: Sarah Welch

Date: 3/29/17