Washington State is making changes quickly: Private Schools are concerned
WFIS continues to support an increase in excellent preschool options for all families wanting or needing care for their children. However, the new state regulations are forcing some to reconsider offering PreK in their schools.
The complaint? The licensing changes cost too much money, are overwhelmingly burdensome, and in some cases directly contradict the very mission of high quality programs. WFIS is asking–How can we protect the current diversity of our programs and promote the expansion of early learning in private elementary schools?
Issues at hand:
- Professional Education Requirements vs. Equivalencies
Many excellent teachers are not interested in going back to school for Early Childhood Certificates and new undergraduate degrees. These teachers are predominantly women and moms or grandmothers, some with advanced degrees in other subjects, excellent work reviews, and years of experience.
WFIS, as part of a State sponsored process, negotiated an equivalencies pathway as an alternative for teachers to “prove” their skills to the State, but the momentum forward with the State Agency has slowed and there are rumors the State isn’t supportive of the plan.
WFIS believes it is in the best interest of children for The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to craft a way for current teachers to stay in their jobs without the narrow college degree and education requirements established by the State. WFIS also does not believe the five-year grace period currently given for new degrees and class credits is sufficient. WFIS will continue to work collaboratively to find a way forward.
- Subsidy Rates- Can Private Schools afford to continue to educate the young children in their communities when the subsidy rate is, in many cases, half of what it actually costs to educate a child?
The rate for low-income families using the Working Connections Subsidy Program is still far too low to encourage high quality programs to enroll more low- income families. On the one hand, teachers’ healthcare requirements increased, as did minimum wage, and paid sick leave – all on the backs of early learning providers. On the other, the State underpays providers to care for low-income children. This is not a sustainable business model for private schools.
WFIS believes that expanding the subsidy program will allow all families to send their children to high quality programs where full pay and partial pay families are part of the same program.
- Accreditation- Alternative to Early Achievers
The state run quality control system Early Achievers is redundant to accreditation, a process of school improvement to which many schools are committed. This year a new law requires DCYF to look at multiple accreditation tools and analyze how they relate to Early Achievers.
WFIS is advocating that Washington follows the lead of many other states by recognizing Accreditation as a substitute for Early Achievers.