We stand up for a Massachusetts where everyone gets a fair shot, does and pays their fair share, and plays by the same rules.
After years of fighting shrinking investment in critical early learning programs, we are making progress.
On Feb. 8, Speaker DeLeo highlighted some of the major flaws with Massachusetts’ early childhood education system, noting how lack of investment is putting the field in jeopardy. DeLeo described the Massachusetts early childhood education system as being in a “crisis”, saying that we have reached a “tipping point”. The Speaker called for significant investment to stabilize the field.
That’s welcome news for sure, and shows that our work, along with our allies at Put Massachusetts Kids First, is beginning to show our leaders that now is the time to act.
In order to help understand the and address issues facing the field, DeLeo worked with a task force he created last March, The Early Education and Care Business Advisory Group. In DeLeo’s address to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce last March, he stated “When taken at face value, early education and care may not seem like a business or labor issue. But make no mistake, it is. Those of you here today should recognize that; you know firsthand how significantly childcare affects your work and the work of your employees.”
The group found that increasing funding for early childhood education is not just good for families and teachers, but that it will also help businesses in the long run. Their theory is that increased workforce development among the 90,000 early childhood educators will help solve the Massachusetts early education crisis.
In order to move forward, and stabilize the field, we must address the salary of our early childhood educators in Massachusetts. Hovering just above the poverty line, Massachusetts early childhood educators make a median salary of about $25,000. The Economic Policy Institute relates multiple factors to this, such as race and gender. For example, the majority of early childhood educators are female, and are non-white, which negatively impacts their earning potential statistically. Since early childhood educators also make roughly 39 percent less than those in similar positions, it forces many to seek government financial assistance.
As a result, turnover rates are disproportionately large — at 30 perecent. This makes it difficult for teachers to build strong bonds with students, as there is so much staff transition. The solution that DeLeo is now advocating is to invest in a tiered system where more tenured educators will have the ability to make more money. What this does is create an incentive for early childhood educators to advance within their field and to remain in the field. We are anxiously waiting for more information what kind of investment lawmakers are willing to make. The State’s Department of Early Education and Care recommended an increase of $36.4 million to the rate reserve for early education salaries.
The Speaker’s comments mark progress in our work to deliver a better early education system to the children of Massachusetts. Now the trick will be turning that progress into real investments for our children.
Post by Cody Diehl