D.C. has been something of a factory of bad ideas of late. Last week, it was the proposal to subject servers to conventional minimum wage laws, despite the fact that they make more when they can count tips towards the minimum wage requirement. Last month, D.C. wanted to tax Uber and Lyft for having the gall to “steal” customers who were tired of the D.C. metro’s shenanigans and seeking alternatives. Now, it’s considering instituting a requirement that pre-school teachers have college degrees in early childhood education.
The proposed rule suggests that instituting this requirement will ensure teachers meet minimum requirements necessary to protect the health, safety, welfare, and positive development of children. But why not apply this logic to parenting? Think of all the children suffering from poor parenting because we recklessly do not require a degree in early childhood education to raise a child!
To think that, as a college student, I once was a counselor at a summer camp for kids this age. And I wasn’t even studying early childhood education!
Facetious pearl-clutching aside, instituting this requirement would have real consequences. One thing that is worse for childhood development than “unqualified” pre-school teachers (reminder: there’s still no evidence that occupational licensing improves quality of service): no pre-school teachers. D.C. has some of the highest child-care costs in the country, and as Reason’s Eric Boehm points out, forcing providers to seek an expensive degree would not exactly help that problem. Nor do pre-school teachers tend to have a great deal of disposable income to throw at an expensive college degree.
Occupational licensing is a scourge the country should be seeking to address, not exacerbating. Maybe if D.C. tried thinking of bad ideas, they might be able to come up with some good ones.