Giving Compass' Take:

• Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Andres S. Bustamante suggest COVID-19 may be teaching us something about paying preschool teachers more fairly.

• With bipartisan support for paying preschool teachers more lucratively, why hasn't more been done to concretely increase benefits? How can the private sector and public sector work in tandem to support preschool teachers?

• Discover some solutions for paying preschool teachers to better compensate their skillset.

Despite our new appreciation for early childhood teachers, they remain seriously underpaid for the work they do. Educators of our youngest children are paid an average of $11 dollars an hour—just about the federal poverty level or the same wages as the average doughnut maker. These figures strongly suggest that we do not value the education of our children nearly as much as the exchange of our currency. One could argue that our early child care professionals care for the nation’s greatest resource.

Policy advocates and researchers have petitioned tirelessly to have teachers recognized and compensated for the incredible job that they do. Reports by the Bank Street College of Education, National Institute for Early Education Research, and the United States Department of Education emphasize that low pay undermines the quality of early childhood education and contributes to teacher stress, which has a direct impact on child outcomes. Early education has garnered enormous bipartisan support for its incredible impact—recent studies demonstrate impacts of high-quality early child care and education well into adulthood on outcomes such as educational attainment and earnings.

To attract and retain these talented professionals, we must compensate them in a way that signals the respect and gratitude we feel for how they nurture and cultivate the future citizens of our society. Now is the time to demonstrate how we value our early educators. They are charged with educating the nation’s greatest resource. How can we show the value we place on what they do? We can start by offering competitive wages that convey the message that early childhood education is a fruitful career path, vital to the success of our nation.

Read the full article about COVID-19 and paying preschool teachers by Andres S. Bustamante and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek at Brookings.