Every 4-year-old in Florida is eligible for a free pre-k education. That has earned the state the number one ranking in the county from The National Institute for Early Education Research for access. But the same study ranks Florida dead last in quality. The report criticizes the state for increasing class sizes and not requiring at least a bachelors degree for pre-k teachers. Florida’s Children's Campaign says the state is being penny wise and pound foolish.
“Children who have Pre-K teachers that have bachelor’s degrees or greater are 99-percent better in reading; they’re 99-percent better in spelling; and they’re 78-percent better in print,” says Linda Alexonic, from the Florida Children's Campaign.
The problem with putting more qualified teachers in the classroom, besides money, is that the state’s universities just aren’t turning them out.
This pre school provides three hours of pre-k everyday for about 20 children.
These four year olds are learning math, and to read, by learning to cook. Math and reading are integrated into every facet of every child’s day.
It would cost the state about 60 million more each year for degreed teachers compared to the 350 million is now spending on remediation for first, second and third graders.
And the P.h.D’s that run this school say not just any education degree will do.
“They need to know about painting, and about why sand-play and gardening is important. And you don’t learn that when you’re learning curriculum and how to teach third-graders,” says Pam Phelps, an educator.
Florida currently requires just a certificate for pre-school teachers.
Florida abandoned a plan to require two year college degrees for pre-k teachers when the state budget got tight. Instead of better teachers, the state is spending 350 million dollars a year for remediation in the first’s second, and third grades.