Why Early Childhood Teachers’ Compensation is Appalling


 

The 2015 Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation, calls for a Bachelor’s degree, with specialized knowledge and competencies, for all lead teachers working with children birth through age eight.

The IOM determined that the science of child development and early learning indicates that the work of all lead educators for young children of all ages requires the same high level of sophisticated knowledge and competencies. When early childhood educators are held to lower educational expectations and preparation than elementary school teachers, there is a perception that educating children before kindergarten requires less expertise than educating early elementary students. This helps justify the disparity in both the educational requirements and salaries for early learning teachers.

Low salaries fail to incentivize teachers to earn Bachelor’s degrees. Educators without Bachelor’s degrees have difficulty gaining higher compensation. An early childhood workforce without the necessary competencies compromises the quality of learning experiences for young children and their subsequent outcomes.

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“A teacher’s salary level reflects how the work is valued by society. To maximize the potential of our young children and the educators and programs that serve them, we must do more to support and lift up preschool teachers,” said the Education Department’s deputy assistant secretary for Policy and Early Learning. As a nation, we must do better to honor early childhood educators as professionals. This is the most critical period for children in learning  new skills, literacy/numeracy as well as socio-emotional development. Whether at home or structured academic program settings, early learning IS the definitive remedy for achievement gaps and disparities in education. Respect, value and acknowledge early educators who lay the foundation for future achievement and school success.

State-By-State Data

In most states, median preschool teacher earnings across the various early childhood settings (e.g., public and private schools, child care centers, and charitable organizations) are significantly lower in comparison to the median earnings of special education teachers, kindergarten teachers and other elementary school teachers.

Annual Median Salary of Early Learning and Elementary School Teachers, 2015

State Child Care Workers Annual Median Wage Head Start Teachers Preschool Teachers Preschool Special Education Teachers Kindergarten Teachers Elementary School Teachers
National Median: $20,320 $28,995 $28,570 $53,990 $51,640 $54,890
Alabama $18,210 $23,090 $26,570 $34,770 $47,820 $50,390
Alaska $24,550 $29,881 $36,410 $70,580 $66,820 $71,490
Arizona $20,070 $32,027 $23,560 $44,750 $40,230 $39,300
Arkansas $18,290 $27,066 $28,170 $31,410 $45,390 $44,570
California $24,150 $34,156 $31,720 $70,670 $63,940 $72,910
Colorado $23,870 $31,255 $27,260 $52,390 $46,190 $48,130
Connecticut $22,410 $34,176 $31,620 $70,190 $71,050 $75,930
Delaware $20,690 $29,276 $25,450 NA $58,540 $58,860
District of Columbia $23,010 $68,100 $39,940 NA $52,010 $67,090
Florida $19,820 $28,073 $24,240 $46,860 $45,660 $46,060
Georgia $19,050 $27,000 $28,190 $48,300 $53,840 $53,790
Hawaii $18,860 $34,316 $33,690 NA $44,350 $56,020
Idaho $18,280 $22,000 $21,930 $38,280 $44,070 $44,940
Illinois $21,830 $32,691 $28,670 $78,530 $48,710 $55,320
Indiana $19,480 $23,231 $24,530 $48,570 $44,970 $48,710
Iowa $18,480 $29,861 $24,040 $58,120 $50,030 $51,150
Kansas $18,900 $31,680 $24,570 $44,680 $44,880 $45,110
Kentucky $18,910 $26,316 $37,640 $46,550 $52,370 $51,850
Louisiana $18,340 $26,739 $39,970 $48,230 $47,340 $47,460
Maine $21,580 $24,818 $29,620 $32,480 $49,960 $51,170
Maryland $22,120 $34,074 $27,980 $64,850 $55,900 $61,620
Massachusetts $24,980 $28,078 $31,580 $55,860 $67,170 $71,240
Michigan $19,620 $27,613 $27,740 $51,320 $52,460 $63,530
Minnesota $22,470 $28,192 $32,130 $56,750 $53,110 $57,560
Mississippi $18,140 $21,842 $24,970 $35,600 $39,800 $40,810
Missouri $18,840 $23,870 $25,070 $47,360 $45,070 $48,030
Montana $19,100 $19,537 $25,900 NA $44,230 $48,550
Nebraska $19,620 $35,545 $31,840 $51,650 $47,910 $50,600
Nevada $21,120 $28,434 $24,640 $51,950 $48,700 $53,010
New Hampshire $21,780 $21,720 $27,510 $48,930 $51,280 $55,690
New Jersey $22,070 $35,468 $35,160 $62,700 $61,350 $63,960
New Mexico $18,920 $28,588 $26,670 $61,420 $52,870 $56,750
New York $25,450 $39,050 $31,100 $57,380 $60,120 $68,540
North Carolina $19,650 $26,139 $25,970 $49,520 $39,930 $42,170
North Dakota $19,200 $28,673 $35,410 NA $44,360 $46,180
Ohio $19,860 $24,255 $23,690 $52,240 $52,470 $59,620
Oklahoma $18,520 $28,371 $32,030 $33,200 $38,750 $39,270
Oregon $22,240 $27,065 $27,680 $67,850 $56,900 $57,820
Pennsylvania $19,590 $26,908 $25,970 NA $51,050 $59,780
Puerto Rico $17,650 $22,650 $22,010 NA $18,420 $36,290
Rhode Island $19,720 $27,739 $32,900 $72,030 $69,870 $71,220
South Carolina $18,370 $23,080 $24,620 $47,650 $51,150 $48,660
South Dakota $19,340 $24,814 $28,710 $39,130 $38,560 $40,690
Tennessee $18,560 $28,363 $23,840 $42,930 $47,950 $47,980
Texas $18,970 $30,160 $30,990 $55,180 $50,910 $52,410
Utah $19,700 $20,959 $23,030 $64,090 $43,320 $51,890
Vermont $23,400 $26,153 $29,390 $52,560 $53,080 $53,360
Virginia $19,510 $30,481 $32,490 $62,290 $57,100 $59,190
Washington $23,520 $30,241 $27,810 $60,170 $55,020 $62,110
West Virginia $18,890 $31,987 $30,640 NA $47,880 $45,740
Wisconsin $20,410 $29,714 $23,890 $38,250 $48,700 $54,120
Wyoming $20,850 $27,181 $26,130 $47,900 $56,190 $57,550

Source: All data except for Head Start data are from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015. Head Start data are from Head Start PIR Data (2015) and U.S. Census Bureau ACS 1 Year Estimates.

 

 

via Fact Sheet: Troubling Pay Gap for Early Childhood Teachers | U.S. Department of Education

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