October 1, 2014

Elyria
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Head Start possibly to lay off 25 people

One month after the Lorain County Community Action Agency announced it was closing its Oberlin Head Start center, the organization announces more changes to its federally-funded early childhood education program.

The changes mean 25 people now serving as assistant teachers could be laid off.

Jackie Boehnlein, president and CEO of LCCAA, said the program is being restructured to raise the level of instruction in the classroom and professional teacher development in the program. Effective Aug. 1, Head Start will move to a model with two head teachers in one classroom. The current model has one head teacher and one assistant teacher in each room.

The difference between a head teacher and assistant teacher comes down to education levels. Head teachers must have a minimum of an associate degree in early childhood education while an assistant teacher can have a child development associate certificate and be in a program to get the associate degree.

“What we believe and what our resources and research shows is having two qualified teachers in the classroom increases the quality of instruction in the small group and one-on-one instruction levels and enhancing the professional development on the teaching level,” Boehnlein said.

The 25 individuals in the assistant teacher positions received layoff letters this week. Of the 25, 11 people are qualified to be head teachers and will be allowed to apply for those co-teaching positions. The remainder would be eligible based on seniority within the collective bargaining agreement to bump into other positions including home visitor, cook and other employment options.

Boehnlein said it is possible all 25 affected employees could fall into other positions. The assistant teachers are on summer layoff.

The restructuring will not affect teacher-to-student ratios.

Boehnlein said LCCAA’s directly operated centers —Hamilton School in Elyria and Hopkins-Locke Head Start in Lorain — are three-star rated facilities based on the state’s Step Up to Quality rating system. LCCAA has collaborative classes in Lorain and Elyria schools, as well as partnerships with Horizon Activities Center, Little Lighthouse Learning Center and Wellington Schools.

The restructuring is happening at the same time LCCAA deals with two non-compliance issue related to its triennial review from the Office of Head Start.

Boehnlein said LCCAA is not restructuring because of the review. But it was found to be non-compliant for teacher credentials. It has three head teachers out of 24 that do not have the required associate’s degree.

The remaining 21 head teachers have either an associate or bachelor’s degree, she said.

The other non-compliance issue dealt with working of the lease at the Hopkins-Locke Head Start Center. LCCAA has 120 days to come into compliance.

The review uncovered no deficiencies in the program.

“It was actually a very good report,” Boehnlein said. “When they reauthorized the Head Start Act in 2007, Congress created the Designation Renewal System. It really did elevate the level of assessment for programs across the country. The fact that under the new modeling system we came out so favorable really is a reflection of the quality of our program.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


  • oldruss

    With all the emphasis on early childhood education today, I find it disconcerting that a “head teacher” only has to have an associate degree, and the “assistant teacher” can have even less education. Neither would be qualified to be licensed even as a substitute teacher, grades K-12, in any public school in the state of Ohio.

    • Ralph Davis

      Since they’re not teaching the kids anything, you could probably just put a trained ape in the classroom and the results would be the same.

      • Scout

        oh tsk tsk tsk…

    • mdr12372

      What can you expect when you pay min wage or very close to it?

    • FoodForThought63

      Considering there is only so much content you can teach to 3 yr olds, I don’t see it as concerning that they ‘only” need an associate’s degree. They are learning to count to 20, not calculus.

      • oldruss

        The misconception, that many people have, is that teaching is not, in and of itself, a skill. It is; and, it is not simply a matter of having knowledge of a subject matter, like you being able to count to 20. To impart that knowledge, and so much more to children of any age, requires an understanding of how to teach, and that, in turn, requires more than an associate degree from some mail-order diploma mill.

        • Pablo Jones

          And a bachelors degree imparts that skill set? And a masters degree improves it further? If that is the case how come American kids know less about Math, Science, and history now than they did in the past? Or that students aren’t more knowledgeable after a teacher gets her Masters degree than the students were before you received her degree?

          Generations of students learned the basics from people that did not have any degrees. Now we have highly educated educators and the kids are no better off.

          • oldruss

            Spoken like someone who has never stood in front of a classroom. Take your position to its extreme. We’d all be better off, (better educated and a lot less taxed) if we just eliminated all public schools entirely. Let every parent take over the education of his or her young, or pawn off that chore to anyone who happens by, it doesn’t matter who that person might be. Everyone is equally qualified.

          • Pablo Jones

            So only a teacher can talk about teaching? Following that logic the teachers should be able to talk about much of their subjects.

            I never said close the schools nor do I want the schools closed. There are good teachers and bad teachers. A fancy degree does not make a teacher better or worse. Based on the knowledge, or lack there of, of the kids graduating apparently all these programs that have been designed to improve education aren’t working.

            Are you willing to throw out an excellent pre-school teacher because she doesn’t have a degree, for one that has a degree but is a poor teacher?

          • oldruss

            What determines who is the “excellent pre-school teacher”? Or, who is the excellent high school math teacher, or middle school social studies teacher? You cannot leave teacher selection to a random, post-hired, on the job evaluation.

            Following your logic, there should be no criteria for hiring any teachers, e.g. no degree requirements. Let anyone and everyone who walks through the door get hired.

            That’s problematic as I see it. A physicist (think: TV character Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory”) may be the best physicist there is, but he or she may not be able to teach physics.

            That’s where a bachelor of education degree comes in, or having a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree in a core area and also having an educational licensure or master of education degree through an accredited post-graduate program.

          • Pablo Jones

            First the article is about head start, pre-school. The people that will be losing their current job have been in that position and the school knows who is a good teacher and who isn’t. Will getting rid of a person without a degree that is good with kids and replacing them with someone with a degree going to make a big difference in coloring and play time?

            The flaw in your logic is you think if someone has an education degree and license that they will be good teachers. But there are plenty of degreed and licenses teachers that are bad and can’t teach. Anyone who puts the time in can get their license and degree in education, regardless if they are good or not. The key to you hiring plan doesn’t work but you want to keep on using it.

            “You cannot leave teacher selection to a random, post-hired, on the job evaluation.”

            The problem is once most teachers are hired their on the job performance doesn’t matter. Experience and references carries more weight than just a license or a masters degree.

          • oldruss

            It may only be pre-school, but school districts whine that students are not prepared for Kindergarten and First Grade; so that’s why so many Third Graders, for example, are functional illiterates, and cannot pass the state’s Third Grade Reading Test. Head Start is supposed to get the kiddies ready for Kindergarten, because their parents or grandparents or aunties or guardians or whomever, are all too busy or too uneducated themselves to do what generations of parents, mine included, did do in years past.

          • Pablo Jones

            And when pre-school teachers have masters degrees and the kids still can’t read who will they blame then? Kids are doing worse now than they have in the past. While your parents may have helped educate you most parents didn’t in the past just like they don’t do it now. Yet some how teachers were able to teach kids in the past, and with out a license or a masters degree. Again all these programs and qualifications that are supposed to improve education are working and instead of acknowledging it they pass the buck.

  • GreatRedeemer

    I’m sure just like the school administrators in Lorain, the union will be circling the wagons soon. From the taxpayer viewpoint, we want qualified employees working hard whether they have one year or 20 on the job.

  • Pablo Jones

    Anyone can teach. 2+2 normally equals 4. But occasionally when adding extremely large values of 2, 2+2=5.

  • golfingirl

    Intensive parental engagement is needed under Head Start and all other education systems in this country.

    Without it, all children will be left behind and tax dollars will continue to be wasted!