New York, NY – Equally-credentialed Early Childhood Education teachers demanding pay parity with their DOE counterparts marched from Battery Park to City Hall on Wednesday, with a noisy call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to finally end the salary gap keeping many of them locked in poverty.
“I don’t think de Blasio is living up to what he said he would do — he’s not living up to his words,” 11-year Early Childhood Education professional Shelley Kepple told LaborPress in Battery Park. “We support him, but when it comes to him supporting us, he’s letting us down big time.”
Despite comparable credentials, Early Childhood Education teachers working at Community Based Organizations [CBOs] throughout the city, earn a whopping 40- to 60 percent less than Department of Education employees doing the same work.
“I’m not downing anyone else because teachers are wonderful — especially in the New York City Public Schools — but we do a lot with our babies, too,” said Amber Gordon, a CBO Family Services Unit administrator in Far Rockaway. “We give them the foundation so they can perform in public schools. We love what we do. We love helping our communities. But we should be compensated just like anyone else.”
The frustration that Early Childhood Education teachers at the city’s CBOs extends across the support staff as well. As head cook at the Blanche 2 Community Progress Day Care on Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway, Andrea Fordyce earns just $25,000 a year. Meals at the center are “cooked from scratch,” Fordyce explains, and often requires staffers to work longer than their prescribed 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. shifts.
“There are people doing what I do making like, $15- $20,000 more than me,” Fordyce said. “I love what I do, and find it a pleasure to take care of the children; making sure they’re eating healthy; making sure they’re getting their meals on time, all of that. And you’re paying me $25,000 per year?”
After marching up Broadway to City Hall, DC1707 Executive Director Kim Medina called the ongoing pay disparity between CBO Early Childhood Education teachers and their DOE counterparts, “discrimination against women and people of color.”
“Recognize us, Mr. Mayor,” Medina told demonstrators. “The time for this abomination to end is now — we will no longer take it anymore.”
New City Comptroller Scott Stringer assured hundreds of rally-goers that the city does, indeed, have enough money to extend pay parity to all Early Childhood Education CBOs.
“We can pay you a livable wage,” the comptroller said. “And how do I know that? I do the books in this town — I’ve seen the numbers.”
Support in the City Council for pay parity is strong. In a statement, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson expressed his support for pay parity, saying, “We will not rest until all workers are fairly paid.”
Recognize us, Mr. Mayor…the time for this abomination to end is now. We will no longer take it anymore. – Kim Medina
The wage gap is currently making it difficult for CBOs to retain staffers. If it continues, more could be headed out the door — exactly at the same time that the de Blasio administration is relying on them to realize the mayor’s Universal PreK agenda.
“It’s gotten to the point where I want to pick up and go somewhere else,” Fordyce said. “I’m at that point right now.”
Gordon urged Mayor de Blasio, as well as the rest of New York City to remember, “When the city goes to work, they drop their kids off with us.”
“And that’s what people forget,” Gordon added. “You see everybody on the train in the hustle and bustle — but before that, they went to a childcare center and they dropped their kids off with us. And we take very good care of these children.”