When I first started in the Early Childhood field, which was 20 years or so ago. I only made $7.50 an hour and I worked in a pre-kindergarten class with a class ratio of 1:15 students. At this time, I had 6-months experience in a licensed childcare center, and no degree. But I was naturally talented, teaching, and managing a classroom was challenging, but it came easy to me.
My class was so successful that I was given an aide. Even though my class was successful, I was only given a 5 cent raise. Being compensated for a job well -done, made me feel more determined to do more. I loved what I did, so the income portion of my job wasn’t a big concern, because I lived in a household with two incomes. Unfortunately, some teachers make a little more than that today and don’t live in a two-income household.
Imagine the teachers that work in the field today, that don’t have a second income and have to live on an income that will not support their family. Based on a quote from the UC Berkeley News Center; “Nobody employed full-time to educate our children during the most critical period of development should struggle to feed and house themselves.”
Their latest research suggests that many early-childhood teachers are caught in such a struggle. The study also showed that “46 percent of childcare workers participate in at least one of the four major support programs, such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps), Medicaid or the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.”
Each time I open an article about Early Childhood the first thing I see is programs rallying for more grant money to open another Pre-Kindergarten/Preschool program. Although I feel like these programs can provide great success in getting enough schools open so that all of our young students are able to get Early Learning. I also feel it is just as important to make sure the teachers that are educating our students are not struggling themselves.
The teacher turn-over rate in a preschool classroom can be just as damaging to a student as not getting the education they need. When students walk into a classroom, they need to see the same teacher(s) throughout their term in school. And within the classroom, they need to understand how their day will be, and what is expected of them. Some children don’t have a stable home environment, so it is important that we as educators provide that stability within a classroom.
There is a huge requirement on teachers. Not just to educate students, but to provide them a safe and routine place to learn. The second-hand trauma that teachers experience can be daunting to their mental and physical well-being. This is why they not only deserve more pay, it is necessary.
Teachers will come and go, that is inevitable, but that can be reduced if we pay teachers what they are worth. Teachers that are continuing their education should be paid more, that is only fair. And teachers that possess a natural instinct for teaching should also be compensated for what they do. What I am saying is, pay teachers based on their individual strengths and what they bring to a center and to the children in that center.
I know that many educators have come to terms with the fact that they will be paid at a lower rate than other fields. They cover it up by saying that they are passionate about what they do, and money should not be a factor. I agree passion is an important aspect of working with young children. But if you can not take care of yourself, how can you take care of others?
As I feel education is important to an Early Childhood Educator, I also feel that some teachers are naturally gifted and should be compensated for that.
What are your thoughts? Should teachers be paid more for a degree? What about teachers that are naturally gifted but don’t have a degree? Should they also be compensated for their gifts?