On the right path to pre-K pay parity. . . with a few more steps to go

It might not yet be time for a victory lap around the pre-K schoolyard but it’s safe to say that the mayor and city councilmembers are on the right path for pre-K and CBO pay parity with the DOE.  

On Tuesday, July 9, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson joined Labor Relations Commissioner Renee Campion, District Council 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido, District Council 1707 Executive Director Kim Medina and Day Care Council of New York Executive Director Andrea Anthony in the Blue Room at City Hall to announce a tentative contract agreement between early childhood care providers, District Council 1707 Local 205 and the Day Care Council of New York.

With a sign reading “Investing in our teachers” in front of where the group sat, the mayor called it a really wonderful moment for all the educators and staff members who had been working towards this moment for several years. “This is great news for our children and our families and the future of early childhood education in New York City,” said de Blasio.

After shaking hands with Johnson nearly a month ago after claiming to have reached an agreement pending ratification that promised to create a pathway to pay parity for early childhood education providers, de Blasio took it a step forward by announcing the new agreement which would up the salary for a starting pre-K or CBO teacher with a Master’s Degree by $20,000, on par with what the DOE pays.

The contract extension will benefit 4,241 early childhood education employees with over 10,000 students in their care and serve as the model for the remaining certified early childhood education providers. The tentative agreement provides a pathway to pay parity between certified early childhood education teachers and entry-rate Department of Education salaries by October 1, 2021.

“There are few things as valuable as early childhood education and our youngest New Yorkers deserve the very best,” said de Blasio. “With this agreement, we’re ensuring whether you’re in one of our schools or teaching in a community based organization, you get the same starting salary. That means our kids and parents can rest assured that they’ll always have our best teachers in the classroom, helping our future leaders develop the skills they need to succeed.”

Johnson shook hands with the mayor again. “More importantly, this deal enhances the educational opportunity of our city’s students by helping to provide stability in their classrooms, instead of losing effective teachers due to the lack of pay parity,” he said. “All New York City teachers deserve the same pay, the same benefits and the same respect, and when we provide pay parity in education, we provide better educational opportunities for our students.”

According to the tentative three-tier agreement, certified teachers will receive salary increases over the next three years. For example, on Oct. 1 2019 the pay for a teacher with a master’s degree will increase to $53,581 and with a Bachelor’s Degree to $48,372. In October 2020, teachers with master’s degrees will earn $62,295 and those with bachelor’s degrees, $55,651. Then by October 2021, a pre-K or CBO teacher with a master’s will receive $62,652 ($20,784 more than previous rate). A teacher with a bachelor’s will earn $61,070 ($17,485 more than previous rate).

“This is a significant agreement that finally provides a type of dignity and respect, not just in words but in deeds and actions and precious resources, to value these outstanding educators who have worked so hard to teach and to help raise our children but were disrespected for many years with such a significant gap in pay parity,” Councilmember Mark Treyger — who chairs the Committee on Education — told this paper. “I knew there were resources in the budget to make this a reality, the Council held the line and I’m proud that this day has come. And there’s more work to do.”

ebrooklyn media/Photo by John Alexander
City Councilmember Mark Treyger gives the thumbs at signing.

The tentative agreement also includes additional compensation for non-certified teachers and support staff and health care cost reductions.

However, there are some glaring discrepancies in the agreement. For example, non-union teachers will not immediately benefit from the pay parity arrangement, health care cost reductions and pension akin to the DOE standard.

“This will be a model or framework for moving forward for certified teachers,” said Campion.

This leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of those who are affiliated with non-unionized facilities.

“I find it amazing that once again, our mayor and City Council are slapping each other on the back and congratulating themselves on the issue of parity,” said Alice Mulligan, director at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Preschool at 414 80th Street in Bay Ridge.

“Today, Mayor de Blasio granted long overdue parity to only those that work in unionized child care facilities and has completely dismissed the rest of us.  His unethical two-tiered system still exists: he only shifted those who have more power from one tier to another. Instability will continue to harm our children, disrespect our fully qualified and dedicated teachers and support staff, and threaten our communities,” continued Mulligan. 

“If Mayor de Blasio wants to tout his agenda as the mayor of the ‘Fairest Big City in America,’ then he needs to get back to the table and make this right,” Mulligan contended. “It remains that the majority of those that implement your Pre-K program are paid only a fraction of what our DOE and now unionized colleagues earn. What happened and why don’t we matter?”

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