By Jaclyn Rothenberg, First Deputy Press Secretary, New York City Mayor’s Office
Back in 2014, the New York Post predicted nothing but problems for Pre-K for All and when more than 50,000 kids walked into their classrooms for the first time that September, we proved them wrong. Adding an entire new grade to our city’s public education is no easy task. There are always challenges, just like with any part of public education. The launch was an unqualified success and years since have gone smoothly showing how well Pre-K for All is working for students, families and the city as a whole.
Right now, there’s a push by a number of advocates and educators to increase pay for some of our Pre-K teachers in community–based organizations.
Teachers are the heart and soul of our school system and it’s our job to make sure they have the means to continue to work with our students. We believe that anyone working with children should be paid commensurate to the responsibilities that they have and a good, decent living wage.
Before we ever launched Pre-K for All, differences in teacher pay had plagued early education for decades. One of our first actions was to increase starting salaries at community-based organizations by roughly $10,000, narrowing the gap than ever before.
We deeply value our early childhood educators and have over the years taken steps to help these community-based providers recruit, retain and grow a talented workforce that our children deserve. We’ve also taken steps to increase the parity among Pre-K teachers across our unified system with our Pre-K for All Lead Teacher Incentive Program, which provides our teachers with additional compensation for choosing to work as a lead teachers at New York City Early Education Centers.
To address the questions on parity, we increased the pay for those teachers in the community-based organizations substantially. But we agree that we must to better and improve the overall parity, since we want those community organizations to continue to grow and be able to provide support for two-year-olds and one-year-olds too. There’s still more work to be done and we’re engaging them in that conversation.
This administration remains laser-focused on providing an equitable and excellent education for all students and that goes beyond our early childhood educations programs. We continue to work with communities to make sure their needs are being met from expanding space to increasing diversity to providing the necessary tools to make sure our children excel both inside and outside the classroom — and with mayoral accountability of the school system, we continue to build on that every day. Critics at the New York Post bet against Pre-K in 2014 too. It was a bad bet then and remains a bad bet today.