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Stupid Mandates to the D.C. Degree

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

How dare anyone have children without a college degree!?

There oughta be a law.

Well, in Washington D.C., our shining, shimmering national swamp, there actually is a law. Granted, it doesn’t yet cover parents. But give our rulers a little time.

The District has decreed that the directors of any licensed “Child Development Centers” — or day care, in non-bureaucratic nomenclature — must have a “Bachelor of Arts (BA) in early childhood education or a BA with at least 15 semester credit hours in early childhood by Dec. 2022.”

The regs also mandate that “teachers” possess at least an “Associate of Arts (AA) in early childhood education or an AA with at least 24 semester credit hours in early childhood by Dec. 2020.” What the non-state’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education calls “assistant teachers” must have a “Child Development Associate (CDA) by Dec. 2018.”

Of course, not all day care is performed in perfect, state-of-the-art child development centers. Some folks throw caution to the wind and simply keep other folks’ kids in their home. They’re quite sensibly known as “Home Caregivers.” They still need a license, however, and the helpful D.C. regulations order them to garner that piece of paper known as a “Child Development Associate (CDA) by Dec. 2018.” Indeed, so must the people dubbed “Associate Home Caregivers.” Additionally, an “Expanded Home Caregiver” is ordered to obtain an “Associate of Arts (AA) in early childhood education or an AA with at least 24 semester credit hours in early childhood by Dec. 2019.”

Oh, goody, right? More government mandates! Just force poor people to spend more of what little money they have — precisely what the early childhood experts say we need.

Oddly, the new regs do not apply to the politicians and bureaucrats tasked with regulating the “industry.”

When the progressives who professionalized our political system (how’s that working for you?) started talking about every child going to college, we should have known that another shoe would drop — or get flung in our face. Indeed, that kick in the teeth is to require a college diploma, a piece of paper awarded by the education establishment, as a prerequisite for every job.

How dare Bill Gates start and run Microsoft and become a billionaire without a university degree? How outrageous that 30 percent of the world’s billionaires lack a college diploma? Their children will suffer mightily, no doubt.

This new requirement is so important that a feature story in the Washington Post is teased on the front page and dominates the front of yesterday’s Metro section with the headline: “A higher degree of child care.” A subhead reads, “A new D.C. Rule requires college courses for early educators. But will it pay off for the city’s kids?”

Will it?

Depends on whether success is to be measured in putative good intentions . . . or reality.

“Scientists concluded that teachers need the skills and insight to offer the kinds of learning experiences that challenge [kids] and make them feel safe. They need tools to diagnose and intervene when they see learning or emotional problems. And they need literacy skills to introduce young learners to an expansive vocabulary, exposure many children do not have at home and are not getting in day care,” the Post summarizes a 2015 report by the National Academies.

“D.C. is ahead of the curve,” argues Council for Professional Recognition CEO Valora Washington. Her group provides the Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials to child-care providers. “It’s more possible here than it would be anywhere else.” Though she admitted that such requirements might “shut down” the child care system in other places.

Requiring costly credentials will of course raise prices that parents already can ill afford. Indeed, The Economic Policy Institute reports that, by official measures, infant care is now unaffordable to more than 90 percent of D.C. families.

And the requirement will not help the credentialed, either: the Post admits that “prospects are slim that a degree will bring a significantly higher income — a bachelor’s degree in early-childhood education yields the lowest lifetime earnings of any major.” Unless they upgrade. Turns out that “early-child-care teachers that go on to earn diplomas often leave their jobs to work in public schools, where they can earn substantially more.”

Still, the Post offers that “there may be enough political will and support to make it happen.” What could they possibly mean? Perhaps that government (read: taxpayers) will step in and subsidize this economically unsustainable mess.

In a perfect world, every child-care worker would be a PhD in early childhood development. And a pediatrician. And a psychiatrist. And also a former Navy SEAL, in case there’s a terrorist attack on the day care center — er, child development center, I mean.

Actually, in a perfect world, parents would have the time and financial stability to care for their own children.

Well, provided they wield a college degree.

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