Preschoolers Call for Equal Pay in NYC Early Childhood Workforce

Press Releases

June 2, 2016

Kids: The Math Doesn’t Add Up–Why Do Our Teachers Earn Less for Doing the Same Job as Other NYC Pre-K Teachers?

With No Raise in a Decade, Many Community Based Early Childhood Educators Depend on Public Assistance

New York, NY – Dozens of preschoolers from community based programs joined impacted educators, advocates and local elected officials on the steps of City Hall Thursday 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. A certified teacher with 5 years of experience in a community based organization makes $41,700, while a teacher with the same credentials and experience in a public school 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.”

The advocates called on the City Council and Mayor de Blasio 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.

“By failing to fairly compensate educators at community based programs, we are doing a disservice to the children in their care, who are some of those most vulnerable children in the City and need these opportunities to set the foundation for their learning, “said Stephanie Gendell of Citizens’ Committee for Children, a member of the Campaign for Children.

“By the City’s own metrics, pre-K programs run by community based organizations outperform public school programs, but these educators are not paid equally. We urge City officials to immediately take action to ensure salary parity throughout the early childhood education system.” “It is past time that every child care worker in New York City receive equal pay for performing equal work,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

“This system that pays DOE child care workers more than community based child care workers leaves thousands of hard working New Yorkers without adequate salary to afford many basic life necessities. We must grant equal pay for equal work because every New Yorker deserves a fair and honest wage.” “Universal Pre-K has been an outstanding success, largely due to early educators who work hard to ensure that our children have a bright future,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the General Welfare Committee. “It is essential that these teachers – whether they are public school employees or employees of community organizations – are compensated equally for their dedication to educational excellence.”

“The successful expansion of early childhood education has been one of the fundamental elements of academic excellence throughout the City of New York. Under the instruction of the dedicated men and women in EarlyLearn NYC centers, our young scholars continue to exceed all expectations. Despite these many gains, our communities are losing their invaluable institutions of learning due to underemployment – adversely affecting women who represent the majority of the workforce while some have become the face of poverty. We must end the tale of two cities through pay parity to ensure that the educators and administrators entrusted with the welfare of our children can also care for their own families,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.


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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