GEEARS fully supports the House Working Group on Early Childhood Education’s recommendations to strengthen Georgia’s Pre-K and hopes to see them fully implemented.
Permanently reduce Pre-K class size to 18 students per class
Small class size and corresponding teacher-child ratios characterize the most effective programs. The smaller the class, the easier it is for a teacher to develop a good understanding of each child’s interests, needs, and capabilities. Teachers overwhelmingly support reducing class size, with 69% of Georgia’s Pre-K teachers saying that reducing class size would help teacher retention.
Use available Lottery dollars to increase Pre-K assistant teacher pay to $25,741, the average K-12 paraprofessional pay, and ensure parity for any bonuses
The quality of instruction in early childhood classrooms depends on committed, well-prepared teachers. In order to ensure the health and wellbeing of Georgia’s children, early childhood educators, including Pre-K assistant teachers, are required to obtain education and/or credentials that higher-paying jobs often do not require. Only 63% of Pre-K assistant teachers were retained in 2022, a sharp decrease from previous years. Many programs have had to delay openings because of problems recruiting and retaining staff.
Increase start-up grants from $8,000 to $30,000 to mitigate the effects of inflation and support quality
Support capital funding associated with opening new or renovated Pre-K classrooms in public school systems and private Pre-K providers