CSA First Vice President Rosemarie Sinclair’s Testimony On EarlyLearn Pay Parity
On Wednesday, June 27, CSA First Vice President Rosemarie Sinclair submitted the following testimony before the New York City Council over the Implementation of UPK and 3K Expansion and the Transition of EarlyLearn NYC to DOE
Good afternoon, Chairman Treyger and Chairman Levin, and all distinguished members of today’s joint committee hearing. My name is Rosemarie Sinclair, and I am the First Vice President of CSA, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. We represent more than 16,000 active and retired men and women who provide leadership in our public schools and in our city-funded EarlyLearn centers.
We are grateful for this opportunity to appear before you today to speak on behalf of our Early Childhood Directors and Assistant Directors. CSA applauds the City Council for holding this critical hearing on the “Implementation of UPK and 3K Expansion and the Transition of EarlyLearn NYC to DOE.” We also applaud Mayor de Blasio for implementing Universal PreK and introducing 3K For All to increase the opportunity for 3-year-olds across the city to have access to a quality early childhood education. New York City’s program is ambitious and has set a stellar example for school systems throughout the nation.
National Education Association research, amongst other studies, confirms that highly effective Early Childhood Education can positively impact our students, communities, and neighborhoods, resulting in greater social adjustment for youngsters, fewer referrals to special education, higher scores on future standardized literacy and math tests and a lesser likelihood of grade repetition as the years go by. Clearly, the impact on the students themselves can be profound. Of course, certain conditions must exist to ensure that those centers are highly effective, including small class sizes, full-day programs, strong age-appropriate curriculum, parent involvement and well-trained leaders and teachers.
We would venture to say that having well-trained leaders and teachers is the most important requisite for the success of any UPK and 3-K program. Adequate and fair pay are fundamental in attracting and retaining the best educators at this and any level in the education system. In the case of New York City, however, fairness remains a challenge.
Specifically, salary disparities between our EarlyLearn Directors and Assistant Directors and their DOE counterparts jeopardizes the effectiveness of UPK and 3K implementation across the board. We thank Councilmember Laurie Cumbo for raising awareness around these disparities, and introducing Resolution 358, “Calling upon the City of New York to eliminate the disparity in compensation paid to teachers, staff and directors at community-based EarlyLearn NYC centers, as compared to the compensation paid to Department of Education instructors for similar employment.”
CSA has long advocated for pay parity for our Early Childhood Directors and Assistant Directors of the City Funded Day Care programs. In 2017, with the City’s assistance, CSA and Day Care Council came to an agreement that provided long overdue financial raises for our members. Unfortunately, that contract was the first raise that these members had received in 10 years. We are proud of the negotiated contract. However, our members had gone without deserved pay raises for so long under the prior administration, that, today, much more needs to be done on their behalf.
Virtually all our Directors and Assistant Directors, who are overseeing Early Childhood Education centers, hold master’s degrees and are certified teachers and experts in their field. They supervise large staff, observe and evaluate teacher performance, guide and review lesson plans and assess and screen incoming children. They also have additional administrative responsibilities, which range from maintaining attendance rolls, payroll and budgets to writing RFPs and grant proposals. Moreover, they must ensure their centers are following the regulations of the DOE, and the Health, Fire and Buildings Departments. Their day-to-day responsibilities mirror those of their DOE counterparts. However, their pay does not.
This inequity is particularly unfortunate, and even jarring, because most EarlyLearn Directors and Assistant Directors are minority women. They have dedicated their lives to the betterment of their communities, the all-around wellbeing of children and the success of Early Childhood Education. Yet they have been discouraged and stigmatized by receiving lower salaries than their peers. Their opportunities for economic and social mobility have been stymied. Their incentives for staying in the system have been undercut.
The children in their care are no less important than the children in the care of any other Early Childhood Directors in the City of New York. These children are also our future doctors, engineers, mathematicians, teachers and artists. Their EarlyLearn centers strive to achieve the same level of social, physical, intellectual, cultural, creative and emotional development, as any others. These centers not only prepare children for kindergarten, but lay the foundation for their entire education, as well as their eventual careers. They should not be regarded any differently from any other UPK and 3-K programs. But as long as their directors are paid on a lower scale and treated like second-class citizens, they are branded as less important.
CSA believes that the disparity in compensation for these Directors and Assistant Directors could eventually discourage highly qualified leaders from remaining and undermine the quality of education at these centers. The disparity runs counter to the DOE’s mantra of “equity and excellence.” The city must begin to treat these professionals with the same respect and provide the same salaries and working conditions that are afforded to their colleagues who work for the Department of Education.
We trust that the right thing will be done. We draw much of our confidence from Public Advocate Letitia James’ report, which compellingly recommends that the City ensure immediate pay equity between DOE and ACS EarlyLearn NYC Directors, Assistant Directors, Family Child Care Coordinators and teachers.
Clearly, CSA strongly supports Resolution number 358, and we look forward to helping bridge the salary gap and consulting in the transition of EarlyLearn NYC to DOE. We respectfully request that the City Council stand with us to demand equity for these leaders and educators who have been taken for granted for far too long.