Giving Compass' Take:

• The author describes the consequences of underpaying preschool teachers and investigates solutions that don't only involve increasing preschool tuition to increase their wages. 

• How can public investment and philanthropy help early childhood educators? Will partnerships help strengthen accessibility?

• Read about the hardships in credentialing preschool teachers. 

We ask a lot of our preschool teachers: keep our children safe, help them learn how to socialize with others, ensure they are “kindergarten-ready.”

Unfortunately, while we ask a lot, we don’t treat them like the professionals they are. Preschool teachers earn an average of around $12 per hour, or less than $25,000 a year, and many do not receive benefits like health insurance.

Low wages and poor working conditions undermine the quality of early education experiences, which hinge on positive adult-child interactions. The result is high turnover rates and difficulty retaining the most qualified educators.

The solution seems obvious: We need to pay preschool teachers more. At least enough so that it can be a career choice that allows them to provide for their own families. But for parents currently paying hefty monthly preschool bills, that is not such an easy solution. The average tuition at private preschools is around $8,500 per year. If preschool teacher salaries and benefits were aligned with those received by kindergarten teachers, the average cost of preschool would almost double, to around $16,000 per year.

In recent years, governors and mayors have increasingly recognized that investing in early education can pay big dividends in the future. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia now have state preschool programs, and cities including New York, Seattle, Denver and Cincinnati have local preschool initiatives.

A realignment of spending priorities and a dramatic increase in public investment are the only ways to address the need for affordable preschool that is accessible to all families and not built on the backs of underpaid early childhood educators.

Read the full article about underpaid pre-school teachers by Simon Workman at The Hechinger Report