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Five ways to improve Obama's pre-k plan

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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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