School of Education News

Michigan NPR station shares alum Wilinski’s research on public preschool teachers

September 18, 2019

Michigan Radio recently shared UW–Madison alumna Bethany Wilinski’s research on public preschool teachers within the state. 

Wilinski received her Ph.D. from the School of Education’s Department Educational Policy Studies and the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in 2013.

Now an assistant professor with Michigan State University’s Department of Teacher Education, Wilinski and colleagues recently surveyed public pre-k teachers in Michigan. This project is in part a continuation of Wilinski’s dissertation research on pre-k teachers and policy in Wisconsin. 

According to their research, only 40 percent of pre-k teachers interviewed across 11 Michigan school districts intend on staying at their jobs. Wilinski shares one teacher's story, “this teacher had been teaching Great Start Readiness Program (the state’s free preschool program for disadvantaged kids) for 15 years, absolutely loved it, but her district was moving towards putting preschool teachers on a separate salary scale form K-12 teachers.” 

Wilinski explains that this also sends a message to pre-k teachers about their position in the district. She explains that pre-k teachers often feel that they are viewed as childcare workers, not as educators, though they have the same qualifications as their K-12 colleagues.

Additionally, some pre-k classrooms surveyed were physically shut out from elementary schools, whether that be through access to shared facilities or being off-campus. 

However, some teachers surveyed by Wilinski’s team felt differently, sharing especially positive remarks when on the same pay scale as K-12 educators. These teachers reported feeling a part of the system, often working with kindergarten teachers and principals.

Read the entire story here.  Michigan Radio is the public radio station licensed to the Regents of the University of Michigan. The station airs news and information content 24 hours per day, seven days per week via three FM signals: WUOM 91.7 FM in Southeast Michigan, WFUM 91.1 FM in Flint, and WVGR 104.1 FM in West Michigan.

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