Worthy Wage Day
Worthy Wage Day is a national day of action, held annually since 1987, as part of an ongoing grassroots campaign to raise public awareness of:
- The low wages earned by early childhood educators, and
- The damaging effects on young children of instability from the teacher retention crisis and chronic underfunding in early education.
Worthy Wage Day was celebrated this year on May 1.
Thank an Early Childhood Educator Today!
On this day, the American Federation of Teachers calls attention to the importance of early childhood education and the dedication of its workforce. Every year, educators adopt a playful but poignant theme to highlight the need for worthy wages in our field. In recent years, educators delivered peanuts and play dough to members of the U.S. Congress, saying “We shouldn’t work for peanuts!” and “We can’t make it with ‘play-dough!’” The AFT’s “Worthy Wage Quilt” was also featured on an audience segment of NBC’s “Today” show!
Thousands of early educators have signed the quilts when displayed at Head Start and NAEYC conferences and at the AFT national convention.
New brain research clarifies the importance of early education, but families and early educators continue to struggle:
- Poverty-level wages are driving experienced early childhood educators from the field.
- Funding for child care subsidies has been cut in hundreds of communities around the nation, making child care less attainable for hundreds of thousands of families.
- The recession, increases in parent co-payments, cuts in subsidies have all forced many child care businesses to close, decreasing the availability of early learning opportunities for the nation’s youngest children.
Research also shows that the most important component of quality in early care and education is the quality and consistency of the caregiver/teacher. As long as early educators are paid low and poverty-level wages, we, as a nation, will never be able to ensure that our youngest children receive the highest quality early care and education.
A "Worthy Wage" for WA Early Childhood Teachers, Public News Service
The Economics of Inequality: The Value of Early Childhood Education, American Educator