Growing the Demand for Quality.Executive Summary.FINAL 0

Transcript

1 Growing the Demand for Quality: Parents and Early Childhood Educators Talk About the Financing of Early Learning in Market Research from NAEYC Executive Summary We have science to tell us why the early years matter, and evidence to show that investing in those years works. We have demonstrated both the need for early childhood education, and the benefits — for children, families, employers, and our nation’s economy . We have leaders and voters across political, demographic, and geographic lines who care about child care and early learning. We have significant public dollars invested in industries that our policymakers which means we have the funding to support in part because of their impact on curren t and future American jobs — invest in this critical industry as well. Yet at this moment, even with all the science, evidence, need, and potential for ystem and an unsustainable market in funding, we continue to have an underfunded early childhood education s which parents can’t pay any more and educators can’t make any less. Because what we don’t have — yet — is the unwavering, undivided, un - ignorable public demand for a financing system that supports equitable access to afford able, high - quality early childhood education for all children birth through age 8, with a wage and compensation structure that attracts and retains the most talented early childhood educators. That’s why the National Association for the Education of Youn g Children (NAEYC) has conducted new market research to help us collectively tackle the question of how we can ensure that parents and early childhood educators 1 - search, conducted This re are on the same side of defining and demanding high quality early childhood education. Richard W. Goldman by a bipartisan team of FM3 and Public Opinion Strategies, and generously supported by the Family Foundation , explores three critical and interrelated issues: How parents and educators think about quality in early chil 1. dhood education; 2. How and whether their understanding of quality influences their choice of an early learning program, either as a place for their children to be cared for and educated, or as a place of employment; 3. How their personal stake in the issue of early childhood education translates to their appetite and capacity for civic participation that advances the issue. 1 Research conducted by bipartisan team of FM3 (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R). Online educator survey included 1,654 NAE YC ondents 27, 2017. Demographics of survey resp members who work as educators serving children from birth to age 8, conducted February 15 - ted October meant to broadly represent the NAEYC membership. Online parent survey included 1,202 parents of children up to age 16, conduc 17 24, 2016. Demographic quotas set to reflect the diversity of American parents. - | Growing the Demand for Quality 1

2 How Educators and Parents Think About Quality Parents instinctively understand what research tells us is true: the quality of an early chi ldhood program is largely dependent on the quality of the educators leading it. Both parents and educators themselves consistently put teachers and staff at the top of their definitions of quality.  Nine out of ten educators and six out of ten parents agre e that quality means having teachers who “inspire the kids” and promote positive social and emotional development.  Seventy - nine percent of educators and 56 percent of parents, respectively, agree that it is extremely important to have teachers who are highly trained. important for teachers to r — eceive good But while 71 percent of educators believe that it is equally — and extremely pay and benefits, only 38 percent of parents agree with them. And while 75 percent of educators believe that parents define quality in a similar fashion to themselves, another area of disagreement stems from what educators perceive as parents’ overemphasis on academics, which 28 percent identify as parents’ biggest misperception about quality early learning. Knowing about — and being able to resolve — these differences is critical, because in the ongoing effort to promote high - appropriate early childhood education, parents and educators must - quality, developmental ly share similar definitions of what high - quality is, and what elements must be in place to achieve it at scale. How Educators and Parents Choose an Early Learning Program Because scale is in part the sum of individual choices made by parents and educators in states and settings across the country, NAEYC also wanted to explore those choices and the ways in which they were influenced by parents’ and educators’ understanding of quality. We found that, whether the connection is conscious or not, the factors that parents think generally determine quality in an early learning program are the same ones they say d rive their own making. A majority of parents, for example, prioritized hig hly trained teachers as an extremely important - decision trained teachers - — a criteria named element of quality and also said they explicitly sought a program with highly more frequently than any other . Parents and educators also prioritize an environment that is saf e, and that promotes positive social and emotional development. Educators, in particular, also place high value on having a program that support s their work: rtant to allow  l growth; 74 percent think it is extremely impo time for professional development and persona meet state and local standards; 68 p ercent want teachers who are well - compensated and   58 percent want teachers with degrees in child development and/or early childhood education. Among parents, these percentages, while lower, remain high: 52 pe rcent think having teachers that meet state and local standards is extremely important and 45 percent prioritize having teachers with degrees. A full third of parents in choos ing an early learning consider having teachers who are well - compensated as being “ extremely important ” program for their child; another 43 percent said that factor was “very important.” Growing the Demand for Quality 2 |

3 Mostly, parents who choose to have their children in early learning programs did so because they wanted them to them to learn academically (48%); and they needed child care to go to work develop socially (55%); they wanted to or school (54%). Of parents whose children do or did not attend early childhood programs, more than half pointed to and parents are quality, affordability, an d convenience as barriers. I ndeed, tho se are the trade - offs of the triangle — split, often by income level, on what the most important aspects of choosing a program are, as well as which are the hardest to find. More affluent parents (those making over $100,000 annually) said th at quality was the most important thing to them (48%), while less affluent parents (those making under $60,000) said affordability was most important (41%). that parents Parents at each income level found it hardest to find the trait they valued most, and to the extent suggesting that expressed dissatisfaction around their choice of program, their concerns focused on quality — affordability and/or convenience may have driven their decision. Regardless of what they ultimately chose, however, parents overwhelmi ngly say that early learning had a positive impact on their children’s emotional development and academic preparation. Early Learning Funding r While voters have placed early childhood education squarely in the middle of the pack of issues of importance fo Presidential candidates to address (behind jobs, health care, terrorism, K - 12 education and higher education, but ahead of immigration and the environment), 84 percent of parents support increasing public funding for early childhood education. In fact, parents believe federal, state, and local governments should all be partly responsible for ensuring funding to quality early childhood education available to all children. But while educators hold state and federal make high - governments primarily responsib le, parents believe that they themselves should be held most responsible. Further, while political ideology yields different perspectives on the role of government (with, for example, 39% of liberal parents vs. 21% of conservative parents viewing state gov ernments as one of the most responsible entities), it does liberal parents not yield differences on the role of parents. Approximately 40 percent of conservative, moderate, and should be one of the most responsible ion. In other words, believe they for funding early childhood educat parties parents across political ideologies aren’t trying to get “a handout.” Rather, they recognize the need for shared responsibility among parents and the public to care for and educate all of our children. - quality early childhood education is This view is informed by their e xperiences, and their knowledge that high important — yet too often unattainable. Nearly 40 percent of parents believe that any major effort to increase the a position held by only 20 percent of — quality of early childhood education will result in them paying more educators. The vast majority of educators (80%) believe, instead, that with reforms and better training, we can major effort to increase quality without raising costs for parents, even as the same percentage also believe that any increase quality will fail unless early childhood educators receive increased salaries and benefits. Growing the Demand for Quality 3 |

4 Early Learning Advocacy Based in part on their understanding of the need for increased public funding, educators and parents are both willing to “get involved in the political process and advocate” for expanding access to high - quality early childhood education. Among educators, i n particular, we found that the groups most willing to advocate include African - Americans and Latinos; strong liberals / Democrats; those who are under age 40; and those who have incomes below $60,000. All educators, however, like all parents, are almost u niversally willing to cast a pro - early childhood education vote or talk to friends about early learning, and majorities are willing to publicly support early learning by wearing a t shirt, signing an online petition, communicating with public figures about early learning, or engaging on - social media. Deeper modes of advocacy are more difficult: fewer educators or parents are willing or able to expend personal time by attending a meeting, volunteering, or attending a protest or a rally, which demonstrates th e reality and the challenges of engagement. Messaging can help move engagement, however; for parents, the strongest messaging comes around the impact of early learning on brain development; its positive impact on K - 12 education; and its vital role for hou seholds where both parents have to work in the modern economy. For educators, the strongest messaging to promote engagement comes around the growing awareness of the impact of early learning; the respect that voters have for early childhood educators; and the precise — the need for educators to advocate for themselves instead of letting others do it for them initiative. Power to the Profession purpose and vision of the collective Voters across the political spectrum support early childhood education, but not all of them — or even most of them — will prioritize this issue, or mobilize on its behalf. We need to elevate and support the engagement of parents and most salience, even as we work to broaden the set of early childhood educators for whom this issue has the stakeholders and messengers who can bring pressure to bear on federal and state policymakers with whom they share perspectives, values, and relationships. on matters; we won’t be able to deliver on the promise of early learning In the end, quality in early childhood educati without it. But quality also costs; and those costs cannot be borne solely by families nor by educators. That’s why orking together with an aligned definition that we need parents, educators, providers, business and civic leaders w informs our collective resolve for a public financing system based on shared responsibility. Already, as this and other research has shown, there is significant agreement that investments in the early years should be investments in that is, quality, and that investments in quality should be focused on the critical element needed to achieve quality — America that supports early the early childhood educator. This is a strong base for a shared message from an childhood education — and we’re counting on working with parents and educators to grow our demand for quality until all children and families have what they need to help them, and our country, thrive. 4 | Growing the Demand for Quality

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