There’s promising news for early educators in the House’s budget proposal. The developing budget would give early educators a much-needed salary increase.
The Boston Globe reports: “‘We’re at a tipping point,’ said DeLeo, citing the many underpaid and unqualified workers who tend to the state’s youngest students. ‘It’s a workforce which, quite frankly, I believe is in crisis.’”
“There are about 90,000 early childhood teachers in the state, who earn a median annual salary of around $25,000 — just $700 above the federal poverty level for a family of four.”
In addition, House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) “plans to file a bill to expand professional development for early educators to bolster a system he described as ‘in crisis,’” according to the State House News Service.
DeLeo points to a troubling paradox, WWLP reports. While more pre-school teachers are needed in classrooms, “fewer people are pursuing careers in education.”
DeLeo’s efforts build on a report from a group he convened last year, the Early Education and Care Business Advisory Group.
“When taken at face value, early education and care may not seem like a business or labor issue. But make no mistake, it is,” DeLeo says.
As the advisory group’s report explains: “access to high-quality EEC can increase the talent pool available to meet employers’ workforce needs.”
“Research shows that participation in high-quality early education and care (EEC) programs increases a child’s likelihood of graduating from high school, attaining a college degree, and being gainfully employed.”
Highlighting early educators’ low salaries, the report adds: “Median annual educator salary is $25,001 – $27,500 in family child care and $22,501 – $25,000 in center-based programs. The average starting salary for a public school teacher is $40,462.”
Calling for progress, the advisory group’s guiding principles include: “Developing, professionalizing and retaining the early education workforce is critical to delivering high-quality programming.”
The members of the advisory group are:
Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop), Massachusetts Speaker of the House
Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley)
Robert Bradford, President & CEO, North Shore Chamber of Commerce
Jonathan Butler, Vice President & COO, 1Berkshire Strategic Alliance, Inc.
JD Chesloff, Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Roundtable
Nancy Creed, President, Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce
Jay Gonzalez, former Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance
Rick Lord, President & CEO, Associated Industries of Massachusetts
Keith Mahoney, Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, The Boston Foundation
Jesse Mermell, President, The Alliance for Business Leadership
Matthew Mincieli, Executive Director, TechNet
Former Lt. Governor Timothy P. Murray, President & CEO, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce
Linda Noonan, Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education
Wendy Northcross, CEO, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce
Jim Rooney, President & CEO, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Rick Sullivan, former Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs; President & CEO, Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council
Mary Walachy, Executive Director, The Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation
To keep up, follow Speaker DeLeo on Twitter where he has been tweeting about early education and a visit that he made last month to Nurtury, a cutting edge early education and care center in Jamaica Plain.
And ask your state legislators to follow DeLeo’s lead. Having a skilled, stable, fairly-paid, early education workforce is a vital step toward improving the lives and futures of Massachusetts’ children.