Education, Features, Municipal Government, New York

Gearing Up For June 20th’s Pay Parity March & Rally

June 11, 2018

By Joe Maniscalco

New York, NY – Early Childhood Education Teachers tasked with putting Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature Universal PreK program into action later this fall, will be marching on City Hall next week to demand pay parity with their Department of Education counterparts. 

Public Advocate Letitia James cheers Early Childhood Education teachers and their fight for pay parity.

Sixty-precent of the seats Hizzoner has created under his Universal PreK program for 3- and 4-year-olds, exists inside Community Based Organizations — and not Department of Education buildings. Despite that, equally-credentialed Early Childhood Education teachers at Community Based Organizations earn tens-of-thousands-of-dollars less than DOE educators. 

In fact, according to Jennifer March, executive director of the Citizens Committee for Children, Early Childhood Education teachers with eight years on the job at Community Based Organizations earn just $48,000 annually — while DOE Early Education teachers can $81,000 annually after eight years.

To remedy the disparity, Early Childhood Education teachers with DC1707 and their allies, will gather at the north end of Battery Park across the street from the National Museum of the American Indian at One Bowling Green, at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20, before marching onto nearby City Hall Park. 

“Our teachers actually live within the five boroughs and vote, where teachers in the DOE live in Weschester County and Long Island and they don’t vote in elections within the City — the mayor needs to pay attention to that,” DC1707 Executive Director Kim Medina recently told LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” podcast. “DC1707 pushed for him on Staten Island — it was a big push. We want to be recognized and respected.”

Early Childhood Education advocates argue that by failing to pay Community Based Organization teachers equitably, Mayor de Blasio is actually jeopardizing the success of his entire Universal PreK program — largely because Community Based Organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to retain qualified teachers. The loss, according to child advocates, goes beyond staffing, to directly undermining both the quality and delivery of Early Childhood Education services.

“What should bring us together is the fact that we are all here for children,” East Harlem Block Nursery Educational Director Brittney Melvin also told Blue Collar Buzz. “Our focus should be on children. However, we can’t forget a key component in educating children — and that’s the teachers.”

Medina further warns that, come September, there will actually be 7,000 New York City children without a PreK spot.

“There’s just no room in the buildings, so [the de Blasio administration] wants to open up more CBO programs,” the DC1707 leader said. “Agencies can’t keep certified teachers because they’re not making enough money, and you’re not getting paid what you’re worth.”

Mayor de Blasio is reportedly loath to open up an active contract with DC1707 members, fearing that doing so will set an unwanted precedent with other municipal workers. 

What should bring us together is the fact that we are all here for children, East Harlem Block Nursery Educational Director Brittney Melvin also told Blue Collar Buzz. Our focus should be on children. However, we can’t forget a key component in educating children — and that’s the teachers.

Medina, however, argues that pay parity for Early Childhood Education teachers at Community Based Organizations need not involve opening the contract — especially with $150 million allocated to the City Council’s Education Budget. 

“This can happen on the outside [of a contract], and we have many supporters within the City Council who are clearly saying, ‘Let’s give them the money that they need,'” Medina said.

Early Childhood Education teachers at Community Based Organizations last rallied outside City Hall in April. They expect an extremely large turnout for the June 20, march and rally from Battery Park to City Hall. 

June 11, 2018

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