Five ways to improve Obama's pre-k plan

President Obama’s Preschool for All plan is well intentioned but includes features that are not justified by research and won’t help it pass in Congress. The plan must make the following five adjustments.

2. Scratch teacher mandates

Under the plan, states have to commit to pre-K programs in which all teachers have a four-year college degree and are paid the same as K-12 teachers. But research demonstrates that neither traditional teacher credentials nor teacher salaries have much to do with the quality of classroom interactions – preschool or otherwise.

Preschool teachers benefit from short-term training that focuses on specific skills, such as how to read a book to children. As with K-12 teachers, the best predictor of pre-K teacher quality is how they perform in the classroom, not their degree. Requiring states to credential and pay pre-K teachers as they do K-12 teachers assures only two things: high costs and supportive teacher unions.

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