Full 2022 Pre-K Task Force Recommendations:
We support Governor Ivey’s proposal to increase state investments in First Class Pre-K by $22.5 million during the 2022 Legislative Session. A $22.5 million increase would add approximately 125 new classrooms and expand enrollment from 42 to 45 percent of Alabama’s four-year-olds. It would also support apprenticeship programs and other efforts to recruit teachers.
In addition to a $22.5 million state funding increase for 2022-2023, our Task Force proposes the following recommendations to ensure that First Class Pre-K reaches at least 70 percent of Alabama’s four-year-olds by 2025-2026, while maintaining the program’s benchmarks for quality and accountability:
- We recommend that First Class Pre-K maintain the ten research-based quality benchmarks measured annually by the National Institute for Early Education Research.
- We recommend that the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education continue efforts to measure First Class Pre-K quality and outcomes through teacher and student assessments and longitudinal evaluation.
- We support the continued use of a “diverse delivery” grant structure for First Class Pre-K that creates high-quality, state-funded pre-k classrooms in public schools, Head Start and community-based settings (such as child care, nonprofit and faith-based centers). We recommend strategies and policies that result in more First Class Pre-K classrooms being placed in community-based settings.
- We recommend that the state invest in programs to improve the quality of the existing child care infrastructure, which has been severely challenged during the COVID pandemic. Full pre-k expansion will rely on a strong child care system that is ready and equipped to meet First Class Pre-K standards.
- We recognize that parents are their children’s first and most important teachers. With that in mind, we recommend that First Class Pre-K continue to incorporate evidence-based best practices for meaningfully engaging and strengthening families.
- We recommend funding and encouraging partnerships to provide high-quality after school and summer programming so that working parents can enroll their children in First Class Pre-K.
- We recommend that the Alabama Department of Early Childhood convene two- and four-year universities, expand scholarships and expand apprenticeship opportunities to ensure that Alabama has enough teachers to reach pre-k expansion goals.
- We support continued pay parity for lead First Class Pre-K teachers with the state K-12 salary matrix. First Class Pre-K funding formulas for providers should cover the full cost of teacher salary parity with public K-12 education (including benefits).
- We recommend establishing a competitive salary and benefits for First Class Pre-K’s auxiliary teachers, who are required to have a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or have nine hours of child development coursework. State leaders can work with the CDA Council and other experts to establish a pay scale for auxiliary teachers based on experience. First Class Pre-K funding formulas for providers should be amended to cover increased auxiliary teacher salaries.
- We recommend funding and partnering with school systems, Head Start and other partners to provide transportation, where needed, so children can get to First Class Pre-K programs. This is especially important in Alabama’s rural communities.
- We recommend exploring funding streams for investing in the physical infrastructure for pre-k expansion (buildings with appropriate square footage, age-appropriate classrooms, etc.). Sources of funding could include bonds and other avenues such as local funds, federal American Rescue Plan funding, federal infrastructure funding and business partnerships.