Preparing Pre-K Teachers: Envisioning Equitable Pathways to High-Quality Bachelor’s Degrees


If you couldn't make this launch event, you can view its recording above or click this link to view Emily Workman, Lisa Guernsey, and Sara Mead's policy paper, Pre-K Teachers and Bachelor’s Degrees: Envisioning Equitable Access to High-Quality Preparation Programs.

Teaching pre-K well is highly skilled, challenging work. As Jeneen’s Interlandi’s recent New York Times Magazine article “Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least?” highlighted, however, the training that pre-K teachers have, and the compensation they receive, often don't match the complexity or importance of their work. Over the past two decades, many early childhood experts and policymakers have been working to elevate requirements for teachers of 3- and 4-year-olds. But there are a host of challenges to ensuring that pre-K teachers have not just the qualifications and training they need to best serve young children, but also the financial and workplace supports.

Many states now require pre-K teachers to have a bachelor’s degree with specialized training in early childhood education, and the 2015 report from the National Academy of Medicine, Transforming the Workforce for Children from Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, recommends the same. But as the report acknowledges and many educators in the field can attest, achieving this goal will require major changes in the systems and programs that prepare early childhood educators—both to reduce barriers to earning degrees and to improve the quality of training that candidates receive.

In September 2017, New America and Bellwether Education Partners hosted a convening of researchers, state policy and systems leaders, and advocates from the early education and K-12 teacher preparation fields to discuss policy and practice changes needed to make a bachelor’s degree or equivalent credential with specialization in early childhood education the reality for pre-K teachers across the United States. The group reviewed several new approaches emerging around the country and engaged in outside-the-box thinking about what preparation for current and future early educators should look like. At this public event, New America and Bellwether will release a white paper on several key takeaways from this convening.

Join us for a presentation of these takeaways and video outtakes from educators in the field, followed by a discussion moderated by Jeneen Interlandi with policy and practice experts.

Follow the conversation online with #Bachelors4PreK and @NewAmericaEd.

Lunch will be served at 12:00 p.m.


Laura Bornfreund, Director, Early & Elementary Education, New America

Sara Mead, Partner, Bellwether Education Partners

Voices from the Field

Summary of Findings

Panel Discussion


Shayna Cook, Policy Analyst, New America

Marnie Kaplan, Senior Analyst, Bellwether Education Partners

Kathy Glazer, President, Virginia Early Childhood Foundation

Sue Russell, Executive Director, T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® National Center


Jeneen Interlandi, Writer, New York Times Magazine