Advocates, Elected Officials Call for Salary Parity for NYC Early Childhood Educators

Press Releases

March 10, 2016

Contact: Morgan Rubin, 646-517-1813,

Councilmember Stephen Levin, Public Advocate Tish James and other local elected officials joined early childhood educators, parents, children, and advocates at a press conference on the steps of City Hall Wednesday to call for salary parity between early childhood educators at community-based organizations and those at the Department of Education. CBO-based educators, who serve children in some of NYC’s most vulnerable communities, have gone a decade without a raise, and many are forced to rely on public assistance to survive.

At the press conference, teachers like Nadia Alexander spoke about their dedication to educating children from low-income communities – despite struggling with poverty themselves. A certified teacher with five years of experience in a community based organization contracted by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) makes $41,700, while a teacher with the same credentials and experience in the public schools earns about $17,000 more. With 10 years of experience, this gap widens to $34,000.

“Even though I’m a head teacher, the money I take home each month is only $100 more than my rent,” said Nadia Alexander, a Head Teacher at Magical Years Early Childhood Center in Brooklyn. “I’m forced to rely on credit cards to support myself and my son, and saving money for his college education has become nearly impossible. The early education we provide for the children in our care is essential to their lifelong learning – that’s why we are urging the city to provide us with a fair livelihood.”

Advocates for children called on the Administration to create a strong, unified, and high-quality system for early childhood education that serves the all the City’s children and families equally, by ensuring that all qualified child care workers receive compensation and benefits comparable to their DOE counterparts. Salary increases for CBO-based child care workers will allow teachers and staff to abandon their reliance on food stamps, Medicaid, and other government programs, and to afford health insurance, as many are unable to afford the premiums and have gone without insurance for years.

Advocates also revealed the findings of a new report, which found that community based organizations outperform public schools in nine out of ten metrics that indicate high-quality programs, including areas like language reasoning, program structure, classroom organization and institutional support. Yet the teachers at these CBOs continue to make significantly less than their DOE counterparts, even though they are clearly providing excellent educational and enrichment services to young children. The report, titled “Losing the Best,” was developed by United Neighborhood Houses and the Campaign for Children, and uses the City’s own Pre-K program assessment from December 2015.

“The work done by early childhood educators is crucial for the children they teach, the families that rely on access to high-quality educational programs for their kids, and the communities these families call home,” said City Councilmember Stephen Levin, Chair of the General Welfare Committee. “The educators working hard to help New York City’s children learn and grow deserve to be compensated fairly, regardless of whether they work for a community-based organization or the Department of Education. I urge Mayor de Blasio to take swift action to ensure salary parity and comparable benefits for all of the dedicated public servants working in early childhood education. This common sense step will make it easier for programs to attract and retain the outstanding educators we need and ultimately lead to better programs for our children.”

“Every child care worker in New York City should receive equal pay for equal work,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “For too long, thousands of hard working, community based child care workers in our City have received significantly less salary and benefits compared to their counterparts in the DOE, despite performing the same work. Such a pay disparity creates systemic inequality that leaves New York’s poorest preschoolers with the lowest paid child care workers and prevents these care takers from affording basic life necessities. That is why I have repeatedly called for the administration to remedy this problem because all child care workers and students need the same opportunities to thrive.”

“By failing to fairly compensate educators at CBO programs, we are doing a disservice to the children in their care, who need these educational opportunities to set the foundation for their learning. Each child, no matter what program they attend, deserves the best education available, especially in the critical years before kindergarten. We urge the Administration to immediately take action to ensure salary parity throughout the early childhood education system,” said Gregory Brender from the Campaign for Children, a coalition of 150 early childhood education and after-school advocacy and provider organizations.”

“It is just not right that early childhood teachers with the same credentials doing the same job make less money and have fewer benefits (while working more hours) in community based organizations compared to their counterparts in DOE schools,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children. “After 10 years with no contract, we are calling on the de Blasio administration to negotiate in good faith to ensure every young child has the benefit of being taught by appropriately compensated staff who are focused on their education and not how they will pay their bills and feed their families.”

“As a former daycare center teacher and director, I know that early childhood educators work tirelessly to provide our children with the educational foundation they need to succeed for their entire academic lives,” said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. “It is imperative that they be fairly compensated for providing such an invaluable service to our city. I urge Mayor de Blasio to take swift action and ensure that all those working in early childhood education receive a salary and benefits comparable to that of their DOE counterparts. These professionals deserve nothing less.”

“Early childhood educators and support staff are entrusted with our most precious asset and deserve to make a living wage so that they can adequately provide for their own families,” said NYC Council Member Margaret Chin. “Despite the spiraling cost of living in our City, these New Yorkers have gone 10 years without getting one penny more for the hard work they do. I urge this Administration to ensure equal compensation and benefits for all qualified child care workers.”

ABOUT CAMPAIGN FOR CHILDREN: The Campaign for Children is a coalition of 150 early childhood education and after-school advocacy and provider organizations, including Citizens’ Committee for Children, The Children’s Aid Society, United Neighborhood Houses NY, Good Shepherd Services, Neighborhood Family Services Coalition, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Children’s Defense Fund-NY, Day Care Council of New York, UJA-Federation of New York, and YMCA of Greater New York. The Campaign’s successful advocacy saved child care and after-school programs for more than 47,000 children by securing more than $120 million of one-year City Council discretionary funds for two consecutive years, which then were successfully baselined. The Campaign also advocated for the expansion of Universal Pre-K and middle school after-school programs in NYC.

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