City plans Teaching Fellows-inspired program for pre-K teachers

As part of its rush to vastly expand pre-kindergarten by next school year, the city unveiled a nearly $7 million plan Tuesday to certify hundreds of new pre-K instructors through a Teaching Fellows-inspired training program.

The plan addresses a major challenge of the pre-K expansion: the training gap between some pre-K teachers in community-based organizations and ones at public schools. But it does not necessarily close the large pay gap between those teachers.

Tuesday’s plan, part of a broader recruitment and certification push, comes during state budget negotiations where Governor Andrew Cuomo has said that districts must prove their pre-K plans are ready to launch in order to receive funding.

De Blasio has already argued that the city has enough space to serve thousands of new full-day pre-K students by September. On Tuesday, he insisted that more than enough qualified educators will be available to teach those students.

“We are putting each and every piece of our plan in place now so that we’re ready when the funding is approved in Albany,” de Blasio said.

About 60 percent of the city’s free pre-K seats are run by CBOs. Pre-K teachers at CBOs can earn far less than their public school counterparts.

Unlike pre-K teachers in public schools, those at CBOs do not need to be certified to begin teaching — they just need a five-year plan to attain certification, which requires both coursework and fieldwork. But many teachers end up going much longer without certification, often because they cannot afford the training.

De Blasio announced Tuesday that the city has struck up a $6.7 million partnership with the City University of New York to confront this certification challenge. The goal is to help 400 pre-K teachers become certified by September 2015.

One part of the plan would give current but uncertified pre-K teachers tuition, student-teaching stipends, and other supports in order to “fast track” their certification process.

The other part is based on the NYC Teaching Fellows program. College graduates would receive pre-K-oriented summer training, then be sent to teach in CBOs while still working on their certification requirements. After a second summer of training, they will have earned advanced degrees and be ready to apply for full certification.

But the new plan does not entirely solve the challenge of attracting qualified teachers to start and stay at CBOs. As long as those sites pay teachers less than public schools, many certified teachers will jump at any openings in the public schools.

One way the city is trying to address this is a new website that encourages prospective pre-K teachers to consider teaching at CBOs as well as at public schools. The city also says that certified CBO teachers will earn salaries “sufficient to attract and retain them,” though it has not said that pay will match those of public school teachers.

On Tuesday, de Blasio said applications by certified pre-K teachers are up 55 percent so far this year.

Read the full report on the city’s new pre-K teacher recruitment and certification plan below.


<a href=””>Teach NYC (PDF)</a></p>
<p><a href=””>Teach NYC (Text)</a><br />