Press Release: An Equal Start for our Children Begins with Equitable Compensation for their Teachers

New York, NY: Hundreds of children, union leaders, early education teachers, elected officials, and child advocates gathered on the Steps of City Hall today to urge Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration to bring pay parity to the early childhood workforce.

The expansion of Universal Pre-K has been the cornerstone of Mayor de Blasio’s early education efforts. Enrollment in Universal Pre-K for 4-year-olds is up over 350 percent since the mayor took office, and 94 percent of Universal Pre-K classrooms are meeting nationally recognized standards for positive classroom conditions and child outcomes. Additionally, 3-K is now available in 12 districts, and the mayor has included the expansion to two more districts in his 2020 Preliminary Budget.

Building off the success of these initiatives, the City Administration intends to create a seamless birth-to-five early education system under the DOE by pulling in all publicly supported, contracted programs under the DOE’s authority. New Requests for Proposals (RFPs) have been released with the goal of having new contracts in place for universal Pre-K for 4-year-olds, expansion of universal 3-K, and subsidized early education for income eligible infants and toddlers by 2020.

This transition presents a critical opportunity to ensure pay equity throughout the early childhood system. An equitable education system requires that early education staff in community-based organizations be paid a fair wage equal to that paid to their peers in the DOE. However, the salary disparities among educators persist and grow starker over time. For example, an MA certified teacher in a CBO earns $15,000 less (or 32%) in the first year of employment and the disparity grows to over $32,000 less than their DOE peers (or 66%) by 8 years of employment.

The failure to support salary parity exists even though CBO early educators play a seminal role in city UPK and 3-K programs and are responsible for a significant share of programming for subsidy eligible toddlers and a portion of infant care. Currently, there are 91,000 children under 5 years of age enrolled in contracted child care, and more than half receive care in CBO centers. Looking by age groups, more than half of 4-year-olds enrolled in UPK are in CBO classrooms, more than 70% of 3-year-olds and one-third of toddlers who receive care are in CBO centers. Communities heavily reliant on contracted center-based care are some of the most vulnerable, including Jamaica and Flushing in Queens, Central Brooklyn, as well as northern Manhattan and the Bronx.

Despite the role that CBOs play in bringing UPK and 3-K to fruition, and their long history of care for subsidy eligible infants and toddlers, the city pays early educators at Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) 60 percent less than their peers at Department of Education (DOE). This disparity is made more

problematic as CBOs educators also offer extended day services during the school year and provide year-round services, through summer and holidays.

As city RFPs are designed to create a birth to five early education system, it is clear that CBOs will continue to play a large role in offering UPK for 4-year-olds, 3-K, as well as infant toddler care. Pay parity for the early childhood workforce is an important step to ensure system stability, program quality, and successful presence of programming in communities.

“Community-based organizations serve a significant portion of the students registered in the UPK program. Drastically underpaying the early childhood educators at these organizations isn’t right, it isn’t fair, and it puts the stability and continued success of the program, these organizations, the educators and, most importantly, the students, at risk. These educators care for and educate many of our city’s most vulnerable young children. Let’s ensure they are able to do the same for their own children and families by creating long-overdue pay parity for early childhood educators,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair, Committee on Education.
“A teacher’s salary should not depend on the type of contract they have with the City, but too often, it does,” said General Welfare Chair Council Member Stephen Levin. “Pre-K teachers at community-based organizations earn as little as 60% of what Pre-K teachers at DOE schools earn, yet when the administration released a new round of contracts for early childhood services last month, they continued to fail to address the issue. This inequity has gone on for too long — it’s time for leadership and results. I’m proud to stand with New York City’s early childhood educators in calling for immediate parity in salaries and ensure we support professionals who work hard to empower and educate our city’s next generation.”

“Momentum for wage parity has been building from advocates to elected officials who believe that the discriminatory policy has caused unsustainable problems in community-based organizations with mounting retention problems. Child care professionals are quitting both public center-based day care and Head Start Centers for higher pay careers. These centers serve thousands of the city’s infants, toddlers daily. Also, the lack of affordable child care presents serious problems for poor and working parents to stay on their jobs.” – Kim Medina, Executive Director, DC 1707, AFSCME which represents more than 7,000 unionized public center-based child care employees in Head Start Employees Local 95 and Day Care Employees Local 205

“All early childhood educators should be treated with respect. There is no reason why two educators doing the same job should be compensated differently,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I stand in solidarity with the Campaign for Children coalition and the many hard-working DC 1707 members who are paid less than their public counterparts at public schools. This is deeply unfair and this administration must work to correct it immediately.”

“The early childhood workforce in community based organizations provide care and education to children throughout New York City including many of the City’s poorest children, and many children whose classes are their first introduction to the English language. Yet the teachers that are charged with providing these linguistic and developmental foundations are paid much less than their similarly qualified counterparts in public schools,” said Wayne Ho, President and CEO of Chinese-American Planning Council. “It is outrageous that the City did not address this disparity in its Requests for Proposals and should immediately take action to rectify this injustice.”

“There is no greater opportunity to ensure that the city’s children are prepared for school success than by equitably compensating the workforce that supports and nurtures their growth,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “As the city has begun to rebid the entire publicly funded system and pull all contracted programs under the authority of the DOE, the time is now to make salary parity a reality.”

“We appreciate the City Council’s show of support and commitment by co-organizing today’s rally with the Campaign for Children on behalf of child care workers. Salary parity for teachers and directors is paramount, especially as all early childhood programs will now be administered by the DOE. The inequity between our teachers and UFT must be resolved,” said Andrea Anthony, Executive Director, Day Care Council of New York.

“Time’s up! If government cares about children, they have to understand that in order to give them a quality Early Childhood Education, their teachers need to make a quality paycheck just like our friends in public school.” – Margarecyl Nunez, Owner and former Certified Teacher, Sunny Skies

“You couldn’t have told me that after being a licensed teacher 10 years and teaching for 20 years that the quality of life for my wife and our four children would be to have no real choices. We have to live in NYCHA, my children have to go to second rate summer camps, we have to take staycations because we can’t afford to travel,” said ASuba Maa, Teacher, Union Settlement. “So you ask, ‘why do I stay?’ When a parent comes to me years later and says, ‘my son or daughter was in your class when they were four and today they have their degree, and they have a job and a family,’ that’s when we know we have done our job.”

“For years, this battle over pay parity for community-based early childhood educators has left scores of workers undervalued and boxed out of economic opportunities. If we want to truly address the social and economic divide in our city, we must lift our lowest-wage workers. That starts with adequate and fair compensation for their work,” Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of FPWA

“Community-based organizations are critical to the fabric of the Universal Pre-K system in New York City. Through contracts with NYC, these organizations help ensure that every 4-year-old has access to free, high-quality Pre-K educational services. However, the salary inequity between community-based Pre-K staff and DOE program staff threatens the continued success of UPK and the implementation of the 3K for All program. UJA urges the Department of Education to provide salary parity for all Pre-K staff.”-Louisa Chafee, Senior Vice President, External Relations and Public Policy, UJA Federation of New York

“The unified early childhood education system Mayor de Blasio has called for is simply not possible until salary disparities are addressed,” said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses. “Our settlement house members and other nonprofit providers are losing staff to the Department of Education and many have been forced to close classrooms or shut down their programs entirely—meaning children and families are ultimately the ones who suffer. If nothing changes, we all lose.”

The Campaign for Children is a coalition of 150 early childhood education and after-school advocacy and provider organizations, including Citizens’ Committee for Children, Children’s Aid, United Neighborhood Houses, Good Shepherd Services, FPWA, the Day Care Council of New York, UJA-Federation of New York, and the YMCA of Greater New York.

Get the Latest Updates --> Sign Up!