City Announces Steps To Help Community-Based Pre-K Programs Attract And Retain High-Quality Educators

April 14, 2014

Plan will drive increased quality, boost teacher retention in community-based programs

New resources will help CBOs offer competitive salaries to attract top-flight talent, incentivize educators to pursue higher qualifications

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced steps to help community-based organizations attract and retain high-quality pre-K teachers as part of the historic expansion of full-day pre-K programs for every child.

The investment, paid for through funding recently secured from the state, will make compensation for certified pre-K teachers at CBOs more competitive with that of their peers in public schools – helping CBOs compete for top talent and incentivizing their faculty to secure certification and advanced teaching degrees. Establishing pay equity is a feature of many of the nation’s highest performing pre-K programs. Teacher qualifications and retention are major factors in the overall quality of pre-K programs.

"A great classroom starts with a great teacher, and today we’re taking a big step to help our grassroots community groups attract and retain the best and the brightest educators. This is going to go a long way towards increasing the quality of pre-K in New York City, and making sure every classroom – be it in a public school or in a community-based organization – has a great teacher come September," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"As a grandmother, I know how important it is to get early childhood just right," Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. This is an important step to ensure that our children will have a great and nurturing teacher to help them explore, discover, learn, and make friends during such a pivotal time in their development."

In New York City, early childhood teachers in community-based organizations currently earn significantly less than their counterparts with identical qualifications and experience in the public schools. Average compensation for certified teachers in community-based organizations typically falls in the range of $36,000-$40,000 per year, compared to starting salaries of $45,000-$51,000 for certified faculty in public schools.

Addressing disparities in today’s two-tier system will also lead to more stability and help community organizations better retain the best faculty. This investment will incentivize CBO teachers to continue training and professional development, which are essential drivers of program quality.

Today’s announcement establishes a new pay floor for certified faculty in CBOs:

  • Pay for teachers in CBOs with a bachelor’s degree and initial certification will be funded at $44,000 per year.
  • Pay for teachers in CBOs with a master’s degree and initial certification will be funded at $50,000 per year.
  • CBOs could further increase compensation using their own resources.

The Department of Education anticipates the changes would affect approximately 1,450 teachers at community-based organizations in the coming school year, including those supervised by the DOE and those contracted through the Administration for Children’s Services.

"We need to attract and retain top talent to teach our children, and today’s announcement will begin to help do just that. Our children deserve the best, and by helping bring in and retain talented pre-K teachers, our children will be better served," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

"Paying teachers a fair salary encourages the best candidates to apply for pre-K teaching positions and will help the Department of Education retain 'the brightest' for years to come," said City Council Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm.  "The Mayor and Chancellor recognize this fact, and their plan to raise the salaries of teachers who work for CBOs will go a long way to ensure the success of the universal pre-K program. This is a good plan."

"The city's plan recognizes for the first time the link between quality, performance and compensation. Pay equity allows community-based providers like SCO to recruit, retain and properly pay qualified teachers, and creates a career ladder for early childhood professionals that will guarantee that every four-year old in New York City has an equal opportunity to learn from a great teacher," said Gail Nayowith, Executive Director of SCO Family of Services, which operates vital social services for more than 60,000 New Yorkers.

Changes expanded this year allow pre-K teachers applying to the Department of Education to indicate their interest in working in community-based organizations, and for those organizations to recruit from that pool–creating a more unified system that will ensure every program has high-quality instructors.