(NewsNation) — There are not enough teachers to support the high demand for preschool enrollment, leading to some students having their education put on hold.
A survey released in November by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that 7 in 10 child care centers don’t have as many open slots because of limited staff, Fortune reported. In Oregon, around 2,000 of the 6,400 children who were projected to take part in the state-funded, tuition-free Preschool Promise program were not able to do so because of staffing shortages, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.
“Parents are concerned because education and early-childhood education are very important to child development,” said Waymond Hayes, director of the early learning and youth development for Focus: Hope in Detroit. Focus: Hope offers early learning, youth development, job training and other programs to the local community.
Especially nerve-wracking for parents at this time is the possibility of their children going to kindergarten unprepared as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hayes said.
The National Center for Education Statistics found that average National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores for students in reading and math went down during the height of the pandemic. Constant pivoting to virtual learning, quarantines, absenteeism and lost instruction time were all contributing factors in the nationwide plunge in academic performance.
To solve the problem, Hayes said, people need to figure out a way to attract teachers back to the field despite issues such as low pay.
“Right now, teachers are struggling,” he said. “A lot of teachers don’t receive quality pay.”
Even when schools do get funding, Hayes went on, the money doesn’t always get passed on to the staff or facilities that need it.
For those parents unable to secure a space in preschool for their child, Hayes suggested figuring out ways for them to learn at home.
“Literacy is really the most important piece,” he said.