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State Urges College Degrees For Preschool Teachers

With an eye toward a new report (PDF) that recommends an overhaul of reading programs to reach children at an earlier age, Massachusetts education officials want more preschool teachers to hold bachelor's degrees.

Early Education Commissioner Sherri Killins says boosting teacher education levels would benefit kids throughout their academic careers.

Listen: Commissioner Killins On WBURhttp://audio.wbur.org/storage/2010/06/news_0610_preschool.mp3

"The more education individuals have then the better they are in working with children around vocabulary, working children in different ways and different teaching strategies and specific skills around child development," Killins said.

Less than a third of Massachusetts educators in private preschool programs hold college degrees. Starting Thursday, officials will roll out a new statewide database to keep track of teacher qualifications.

The state is looking for ways to help more teachers in private schools finish college and raise their salaries. Killins says the state will depend on private funds for that.

"We can't afford to wait until all the money is here," she said. "We have to make sure that we're making a difference in the lives of children right now."

Killins says the education push for preschool teachers is part of larger effort to improve the state's school system through all grade levels.

"This is something we've been working on for several years, and talking about for several years, and, of course, it will support multiple efforts, including those to close the deficiency gap, including 'Race to the Top,' including our own efforts to continue to build competencies," she said.

WBUR's Bianca Vazquez Toness contributed reporting.

This program aired on June 10, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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