Perceptions of classroom quality and well-being among Black women teachers of young children




Early childhood education, Black teachers, Black women, Teacher well-being, Teacher quality, Focus group research


Concerns about preschool effectiveness have increasingly led to early childhood education policy changes focused on teacher quality. While these reforms intend to ensure children’s educational well-being, they rarely consider the impact policies have on teachers. Additionally, child care work is a feminized profession with distinct social experiences along lines of race and class. Black women who are early child care teachers live in poverty at rates disproportionate to their white counterparts. Through Black feminist focus group research, this paper documents perceptions of early childhood education quality mandates in Georgia and their impact on the well-being of 44 Black women teachers of infants, toddlers, and preschool age children. Findings suggest that the call for quality complicates Black teachers’ work, adds undue financial and emotional stress that takes a toll on their well-being, and interrupts personal dynamics with their loved ones. The paper calls for antiracist and antisexist structural support to interrupt both the stressors exacted by the field and the sociohistorical processes devaluing Black women’s work with children.


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Author Biographies

Erica B. Edwards, Wayne State University

Erica B. Edwards, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies in the College of Education at Wayne State University. Her research focuses on the educational experiences of Black women and girls. Considering the central ideological role of popular culture in processes of racialization, gendering, and sexuality, Erica also writes about the educative value of television, film, and music from an intersectional perspective. She is the co-author of the book Intersectional Analysis of Popular Culture Texts: Clarity in the Matrix and has published in such journals as the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Educational Policy, and Equity and Excellence in Education.

Nicole Patton Terry, Florida State University

Nicole Patton Terry, Ph.D., is the Olive & Manuel Bordas Professor of Education in the School of Teacher Education, Director of the Florida Center for Reading Research, and Deputy Director of the Regional Education Lab—Southeast at Florida State University (FSU). She founded and directs The Village at FCRR, a division that takes a collective impact approach to creating and maintaining research partnerships with diverse community stakeholders to promote reading achievement, school readiness, and school success among vulnerable children and youth. She current serves as Associate Editor for the Journal of Learning Disabilities, a board member for the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading, and a fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Gary Bingham, Georgia State University

Gary Bingham is a professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Georgia State University. He received his Ph.D. in child development and family studies from Purdue University. His research examines home and school factors that contribute to the academic achievement of culturally and linguistically diverse children. Specifically, his research seeks to discover how high-quality adult-child interactions (i.e., emotionally and instructionally sensitive interactions) within the home and at school influence young children’s literacy and language development. His research also examines factors that contribute to these high-quality adult-child interactions, particularly with regard to writing, reading and language facilitation.

Jeremy L. Singer, Wayne State University

Jeremy Singer is a doctoral candidate in educational leadership and policy studies at Wayne State University’s College of Education, and a research assistant for the Detroit Education Research Partnership. He is interested in the intersections of geography, class, race, and educational policy.




How to Cite

Edwards, E. B., Patton Terry, N., Bingham, G., & Singer, J. L. (2021). Perceptions of classroom quality and well-being among Black women teachers of young children. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 29(January - July), 56.