Last week, in an effort to bolster Alaska’s education workforce with qualified teachers and educators, University of Alaska’s (UA) Board of Regents voted unanimously to re-establish the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree program in Early Childhood Education at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). UAA anticipates beginning to offer admission for the Fall 2022 semester.
UAA’s BA program is built on the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Professional Preparation Standards for educators wanting to work with children birth through age eight in a variety of settings, including child care, preschool, Head Start, and Pre-Elementary through 3rd grade. It is the only licensed Bachelor’s program offered in the state.
Hilary Seitz, PhD, Professor of Early Childhood Education at UAA, said the BA program will require field hours in local child care programs and public schools, as well as provide a strong foundation in literacy development, culturally responsive teaching, developmentally appropriate practices, and 21st-century skills learners of tomorrow will need.
Seitz said UAA’s BA program will connect to two other early childhood higher education pathways offered at the school. “Students can begin with an 18-credit workforce development certificate (OEC) in Infant and Toddler Development,” Seitz said. “These credits are pathways to the 60 credit AAS in Early Childhood Development. Students who then complete the AAS will be halfway done with their BA in Early Childhood Education. These pathways help students set reasonable goals for themselves and are aligned with the Alaska SEED Career Ladder.”
Seitz noted that UAA will slowly begin to roll out the upper-division courses as students become ready.
Panu Lucier, director of Alaska’s System for Early Education Development (SEED), housed and managed by thread, said UAA’s Early Childhood Education program has provided a strong incentive by offering a Bachelor’s option, creating a pathway for success for Alaska’s early childhood educators.
“Earning a BA in early childhood education means graduates will obtain the qualifications, skills and knowledge to support children’s development and early learning, which will ultimately improve outcomes for children—a lifelong investment,” Lucier said.
Alaska SEED provides reimbursement funding to early childhood educators with up to $1,500 per fiscal year for higher education tuition. Early educators can join the Alaska SEED Registry to plan, track, and document their professional development, as well as become eligible for financial assistance.
National studies show that the number one indicator of quality is the teacher. The teacher’s level of education directly impacts the quality of education and the learning environment. Adults trained in early education provide higher quality care, implement more appropriate activities, and prepare children for school — and life.
To learn more about UAA’s Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education program, email Hilary Seitz.