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Teacher-Training Details Scarce in Obama Pre-K Request

As my colleagues have already reported, the big news in the Obama administration's 2014 budget request is the fleshing out of its pre-K expansion proposal.

Much focus is being put on its controversial idea to raise the federal tax on cigarettes to help fund the proposal. But the budget is equally interesting for what it doesn't spell out: What kinds of requirements it would set regarding the training of teachers who would need to be hired to fill all these new positions.

As I reported for Education Week last month, this is an area of some debate in the field. Some experts believe early childhood policy regarding teachers should focus not only on getting more of them to hold bachelor's degrees, but also prioritize the content of training, especially the types of interactions young children experience.

The Education Department's budget justifications for the program note that it would expect programs to have "high staff qualifications, including a bachelor of arts for teachers," and "professional development for teachers and staff," and "employee salaries that are comparable to those for K-12 teaching staff." But there's not much detail on just what that training should look like.

Bellweather Education Partner's Sara Mead (who also writes an opinion blog for EdWeek) points out that, even without a fuller account of details, many states' current programs wouldn't meet some of these basic outlines and would have to make changes in order to tap the federal financing. As always, her take on early-ed. issues is worth reading.

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