SOMETIMES, MONEY MAY BE THE SOLUTION
Teaching has never been an easy job, to be sure. It can be stressful (and is likely even more so in recent years) and pay levels are relatively low. According to the National Education Association, the average teacher pay in America for the 2022 -2023 year was an estimated $68,469. Adjusted for inflation, the average salary for classroom teachers has dropped an estimated 6.4% from 2013-2014.
Things are even worse in early childhood education. According to a recent report by Mathematica, “child care and early education (CCEE) educators are among the lowest-paid workers in the United States. CCEE educators, who are predominantly female and are disproportionately women of color, earn less than other employees in a range of similar roles requiring comparable skills and education. In 2022, the median hourly wage for CCEE educators was $13.71, 38 percent below the $22.26 median hourly wage of other similar occupations.”
But an experiment in Washington D.C. to combat these trends seems to be paying off. Its “Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund (PEF) was created to achieve compensation equity with DC Public School teachers. This initiative, launched in Fall 2022, delivered initial lump sum payments ranging from $10,000 to $14,000 to approximately 3,000 CCEE educators across the city,” reported Mathematica.
Mathematica found that just two quarters after the launch of the program, CCEE employment levels increased by about 100 additional educators, or about 3 percent.
The report’s conclusion: “The Early Childhood Educator Pay Equity Fund in Washington, DC represents a groundbreaking effort to address compensation inequity between CCEE educators and public-school teachers. The PEF’s initial impacts on CCEE employment levels are promising and appear to represent a useful strategy for increasing workforce retention and stability.
However, it is important to note that this analysis only captured the immediate effects of the initial PEF payments, and the longer-term impacts are still uncertain. It also remains unclear whether the PEF will continue to receive sufficient public funding to sustain these initial achievements.”
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