“NY Times: Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least?”

By Mona Malan
Director of Provider Services, Children’s Council

In recent years, thanks to the tireless work of child care advocates across the country, local and national media outlets have begun turning their attention to one of the most critical issues of our time: the need for adequate support and funding for child care and early education.

Recently the crisis in the child care workforce was the cover story of the New York Times Magazine: “Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least?”

The economic and social benefits of high-quality early education and the pivotal role of skilled early educators are well-documented, but finding those qualified teachers is more difficult than ever.

Although our expectations of early educators have been rising for decades, their compensation hasn’t kept pace. In fact, nearly half of the child care workforce earns so little that they qualify for public benefits, such as food stamps.

Marcy Whitebook, director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at UC-Berkeley recently stated:

“We have 20th century earnings for our 21st century hopes. Right now if you graduate from college with a degree in early-childhood education, you have the lowest projected earnings of all college graduates. This is not a recruitment strategy.”

Low wages mean high turnover, teacher shortages and struggles to keep classrooms fully staffed and open, adding to the difficulties parents face in finding quality care for their children. These issues are even more acute in a high-cost city like San Francisco.

We at Children’s Council believe San Francisco should lead the state and the nation in addressing this crisis—supporting a highly-qualified, well-compensated workforce who will educate the next generation.

To learn more about Children’s Council policy and advocacy work, as well as the latest media coverage about early education and our responses, visit our website.





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