Pay parity is now a reality for CBO pre-K teachers

BOROUGHWIDE — It looks like it’s finally time to take that victory lap around the schoolyard as the mayor and city councilmembers have officially announced pay parity for pre-K educators working with community-based organizations with those working with the Department of Education.

On Monday, Nov. 18, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announced that the city has honored its promise to establish a pathway to pay parity between certified early childhood education teachers at CBOs — who had been paid significantly less than early childhood educators at the DOE —  and entry-rate salaries for DOE teachers by October 2021. Many children in the city’s Pre-K for All program attend class at CBOs, which supplement offerings at DOE sites.

“Early childhood education opens up a world of possibilities for our youngest New Yorkers and their families,” said de Blasio. “In June, we committed to creating a pathway to pay parity for community-based childhood education providers, and in less than six months we have delivered. I want to thank District Council 37/1707, Speaker Johnson, all our partners in the City Council and advocates for working to ensure our best teachers remain in the classroom and our children are ready to lead the New York City of the future.”

The first agreement to reach pay parity was announced five months ago, when de Blasio said his administration would increase salaries for a starting pre-K teacher with a master’s degree at a CBO by $20,000, bringing wages in line with what the DOE pays.

He also pledged additional compensation for non-certified teachers and support staff, as well as help with health care costs.

There were some glaring discrepancies in the original agreement, however. For example, non-union teachers were not going to benefit immediately from the pay parity arrangement, health care cost reductions and pension increase.

At the time, City Council Education Committee Chair Mark Treyger called it a model for moving forward for all certified teachers, but it left a bitter taste in the mouths of non-union teachers.

Alice Mulligan, director at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Preschool at 414 80th St. in Bay Ridge, was extremely disappointed at the time because of the failure to include non-unionized teachers. Today, she appeared thrilled with the new agreement.

“Apparently the mayor and Corey Johnson have kept their word,” Mulligan told this paper. “This covers everybody, regardless of whether they are in the union or not. It appears that this includes support staff. It seems like the mayor and the City Council listened to us.”

Mulligan continued, “While the intention of pre-K for All was very good, the roll-out was remarkably fast and with that, it destabilized the New York City early childhood community. You had people jumping from school to school to get better wages, to get healthcare, so it was a revolving door for many school personnel, and that does not provide any stability for our children.”

With the Nov. 18 announcement, certified teachers at early childhood education programs will receive a substantial salary increase. A teacher with a master’s degree earning a starting salary of $53,580 this year will make $62,295 by Oct. 1, 2020, and $68,652 by Oct. 1, 2021. A starting salary for teachers with a bachelor’s degree this year is $48,372; it will rise to $55,651 next year and $61,070 in 2021.

City Councilmember Justin Brannan called it a huge day for community based early childhood educators.

“From day one, the tremendous success of the Mayor’s UPK program has been dependent on local, nonprofit CBO early childhood educators and their staff,” he said. “For far too long, these dedicated educators working at community based organizations have not received equal pay for equal work.”

Brannan continued, “Today, thanks to this historic agreement, that will change, and our city and our children stand to benefit greatly. This is about achieving real pay parity for those who have made UPK the national model that it has become.”

Mulligan, a longtime, vocal advocate of pay parity for all, worked closely with Treyger, an early supporter of the CBOs’ call for equity, and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who hosted a rally alongside Mulligan to make a public plea for equal and adequate funding, and who, Mulligan noted, “spoke about these inequities on the state level.

“They both recognized this,” Mulligan stressed, “and saw a true need and the stability that pay parity would bring to our youngest learners.”

Treyger was encouraged by today’s announcement. “The success of our 3K and UPK programs is dependent on early childhood educators and staff.

“In June, the Council promised we would not pass a budget without an agreement to achieve pay parity for our early childhood educators. With today’s announcement, we are now one step closer to achieving pay parity for non-DOE staff, who guide and teach our youngest learners every day.”

Malliotakis was equally pleased to hear the news. “I thank the city for listening to our pleas and working to rectify this disparity that was leaving community based preschools in distress with the very real possibility of closure,” Malliotakis told this paper.

“These pre-K programs have been in our community for years, long before Universal Pre-K,” Malliotakis went on. “They have helped mold our children into the people they are today and are a part of the fabric of our neighborhoods. The city’s policies were driving them out of business and this is a significant step in the right direction to preserve them for future generations of children. This is a significant victory and I thank the mayor and Council speaker for hearing and addressing our concerns.”

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