Spring/Summer 2018 Newsletter – Executive Director Note
MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The City’s early childhood education system is in crisis. The cause of this crisis is simple:
The City has intentionally and unjustifiably chosen to provide teaching professionals and support staff in the public schools significantly higher salaries and significantly better benefits than equally experienced and equally credentialed teaching professionals and support staff in the nonprofit EarlyLearn centers (like ours) funded by the NYC Administration for Children’s Services.
Nearly 60% of the universal pre-kindergarten seats in the City are located in nonprofit centers, so the success of the Mayor’s “Pre-K for All” initiative depends on the strength and viability of programs like ours.
The results of the disparities in teacher salaries have been both predictable and devastating. Every week, dedicated EarlyLearn staff members, drawn by higher pay and better benefits, leave nonprofit centers to take jobs with the NYC Department of Education. This has forced nonprofit providers, like Union Settlement, to close classrooms – and in some cases, nonprofit providers have closed entire centers – because we have not been able to attract a sufficient number of certified teachers and other educators to meet staffing requirements.
This situation creates tremendous hardship for the low-income families that we serve in the following ways:
1. The fact that we are closing classrooms means that fewer children are being served.
2. Because the pay disparities are greatest for the most experienced teachers – for example, a teacher with a master’s degree and 20 years of experience is paid about $51,000 in a nonprofit center, and over $100,000 in the public schools – we are losing our most experienced teachers at the fastest rate, leaving less-experienced staff teaching the most vulnerable low-income children in our centers.
3. The City’s decision is forcing the closure of EarlyLearn classrooms and facilitating the opening of classrooms in public schools, creating significant hardship for working parents, because the public schools only offer school day classes that end around 2:30 p.m., while our EarlyLearn centers offer full-day programming from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., including the summer and school holidays.
Needless to say, there is no justification for the City’s intentional disparate treatment of nonprofit staff members working on behalf of our youngest and most vulnerable children.
We fear that the early childhood education system – which we have all worked so hard to build – is facing collapse. We promise to not sit idly by while that happens. We have joined with the Campaign for Children, United Neighborhood Houses and the DC1707 union, demanding that the Mayor and City Council provide salary parity for all early childhood workers.