Early Childhood Workforce

Losing Ground in Early Childhood Education, 1980-2004

Since the early 1980s, there has been a large and unsettling dip in the qualifications of the center-based early childhood workforce nationwide, with 30% of teachers and administrators now having just a high school diploma or less, according to a comprehensive new report published on September 15, 2005 by the Economic Policy Institute, the Keystone Research Center, and the Foundation for Child Development.

Losing Ground In Early Childhood Education – authored by researchers Stephen Herzenberg, Mark Price and David Bradley -- finds that declining qualifications have resulted, in part, from persistent low wages and benefits. As more educated women have enjoyed expanding opportunities in other fields, low pay has made it hard for the early childhood education (ECE) field to hold onto experienced teachers with proper training and educational background. As a result, more teachers are entering ECE without a college degree. Home-based early childhood educators (for which consistent data exist only since 2000) have even lower education levels than those who are center-based.

The national report, released together with a table on qualifications and pay in 39 states and companion reports for seven states, uses a unique new data set from the 1979-2004 Current Population Survey to examine trends in ECE qualifications and pay. The authors emphasize that these educational trends can reduce the effectiveness of these ECE programs and the long-term academic outcomes of preschool children nationwide.

Download the Research Papers

Losing Ground In Early Childhood Education and seven companion state-level reports for California, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Wisconsin are available for download in Adbobe PDF format. On-line summaries of the national and state-level reports are also available, together with tables describing the characteristics of early childhood educators in 39 states.

National report
State-level reports

California (online summary, full report)

Florida (online summary, full report)

Massachusetts (online summary, full report)

Pennsylvania (online summary, full report)

New York (online summary, full report)

New Jersey (online summary, full report)

Wisconsin (online summary, full report)

State Rankings