U.S. Education Leader Stresses Preschool Pay

By Green, Jeff | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), June 15, 2016 | Go to article overview

U.S. Education Leader Stresses Preschool Pay


Green, Jeff, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


The U.S. education secretary visited a Clifton preschool Tuesday morning to call attention to a national pay gap between preschool teachers and other teachers and to call for more federal grants for preschool programs.

After mingling with 4- and 5-year-old students at the Clifton Early Learner Academy on Allwood Road, Education Secretary John B. King Jr. held a question-and-answer session with teacher Raquel Lima in which he said lower pay levels for preschool teachers lead to high turnover and a lower quality of classroom instruction.

Nationwide, the median salary for preschool teachers is $28,570, compared with pay of $54,890 for elementary school teachers, according to a new federal report. In New Jersey, preschool teachers earn a median $35,160, compared with median salaries of $63,960 at the elementary level.

"If folks can't support themselves and their families, they just simply can't afford to stay," King said. "This investment in salary is also an investment in retaining talent and making it possible for people to make a life as early learning educators."

Lima said she could identify with the problem, recalling her first job out of college at a day-care site where she made $6 an hour.

"You can't live on that, you can't have a family of four on that," she said.

She teaches now in Clifton's preschool program, which is finishing its first year and is paid for by a federally run program that King said he hoped Congress would expand next year. …

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