May 1, 2009
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Worthy Wage Day-May 1, 2009
May 1 is Worthy Wage Day, which recognizes and honors the hard work of early childhood educators and staff, and draws attention to their low wages and minimal benefits.
WASHINGTON—Early childhood educators and staff make it possible for parents to go to work every day and earn a living for their families. Yet these workers' meager wages and practically nonexistent benefits barely allow them to make ends meet. There is widespread recognition that high-quality early childhood education provides an essential foundation for future learning. The average salary for early childhood educators remains under $19,000, only one-third have health insurance and even fewer have a pension-making it unrealistic to attract and retain well-trained professionals in this field.
The AFT supports using innovative compensation plans, such as career and wage ladders that provide monetary incentives including tuition reimbursements and stipends, to help and encourage early childhood educators to get additional training and professional development. This enables them to boost their wages and improve their ability to care for and teach children, which is good for both kids and educators.
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The AFT represents more than 1.4 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.