For What It’s Worth: Early Childhood Teachers Earn Less, Deserve More

NOW HIRING…Start Immediately.  Everyone is hiring.  There is a “Help Wanted” sign posted at nearly every restaurant and retail store.  Almost every day we hear about or are at least reminded of, the labor shortage.  $10 an hour, $11 an hour, even $12 an hour for entry level restaurant, retail and customer service positions.  Full training provided, flexible schedules, tuition reimbursement, no experience necessary.

With an unemployment rate below 3%, I don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

The hiring needs of all our favorite and frequented businesses are quite common; we know the companies hiring, benefits offered, schedules available and the pay rate of the positions.  Okay, so I admit, this may cross my mind “a little” more than the average person because I am an HR professional, but I would like for everyone to think about it, even if just for a minute.

When you stop for that delicious (and very much needed) cup of coffee in the morning, as you hit the drive thru on the way home from work, or on that weekend trip to the grocery store or shopping mall – what is the wage of the person working to make your purchase or experience successful?  It is very likely $10 an hour or more.

Do you wonder, how much are the early childhood teachers in your life worth?

A recent report conducted by the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Survey:  A Focus on Providers and Teachers, found that licensed child care center-based early childhood teachers (ages 0-3) earn substantially less each year than their PreK and K-3 counter parts.  This is despite the need for similar education and additional training and licensing requirements for child care center based teachers.  In addition, the child care center based early childhood teachers are working in year-round programs while most of the PreK and K-3 teachers are on 10-month schedules.

Often this means they earn less per hour than your favorite barista.

I don’t know the answer to this dilemma, I really wish I did.  What I do know is that while there is a huge responsibility associated with the care of these precious young children, appreciation for this undertaking is not clearly shown in the wages paid to these dedicated early childhood teachers who have chosen to care for our children.

Pam Stanton
Human Resources Director
Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative

Pam has been managing and directing human resources for more than 20 years and enjoys seeing successful partnerships between organizations and the people who make them great.  As a wife and mom of five children, she knows the importance of educating our children and supporting those that partner with us in this responsibility.  In her spare time, Pam likes to…well we are working on that.