BlogKristin Bess, Teacher at Martha’s Table

June 13, 2023

“The best teachers are the ones who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.” 

-Alexandra J. Kenfor 

Good afternoon Chairman Mendelson and members of the committee. My name is Kristin Bess and I am a one year old teacher at Martha’s Table and an advocate for children. My testimony will focus on how the Pay Equity fund has impacted my life, and what I think about the changes to how the fund will be operated in the future. 

To begin with I have been in the field of early education for fifteen years. Being in this field is nothing short of rewarding because I get to teach the future leaders of tomorrow. However, as you all may know early educators have been underpaid for a substantial amount of time and we’ve been looked at as “babysitters.” In my opinion we are more than just a group of dedicated individuals, we are nurses, therapists as well as life coaches to not only the children but the parents as well. Nevertheless, when they stated that we would be additionally compensated through the Pay Equity Fund and our pay would be made comparable to the school system it was a sigh of relief for not only myself but other teachers and their families as well. 

I am also a single mom of two boys and sometimes it’s hard to find a healthy work life balance, while also allowing myself self care. Not to mention I am also the soul provider for my mom as well as my older brother who is visually impaired. Receiving the pay equity fund has allowed me to have a cushion of support for my family in times of need. Receiving this increased compensation fund has been one of the biggest blessings. While receiving this money has helped me catch up on bills, assist my mother, and brother it has also put me in a position to be able to maintain a stable savings. 

Personally speaking, I think that the way it will be operated in the future is a great idea, but I also think it should be on a point system. In my opinion I think that receiving this money should be based upon the teacher’s performance as well as their attendance. Receiving this money has helped many but it has also put some early learning centers in a bind as far as attendance. I do not think that the money should be given to the organization, but it should be continued to be distributed every three months to the teachers. Each organization is different in how they handle financial obligations and so many kinks need to be ironed out before they start the new distribution process. From my perspective, I think that this money is a great way to show that we are valued just as much as the educators in the school system. I’m sure that this money has taught some people how to be financially literate as well as helping families. 

In conclusion, I would like to say thank you for allowing us to be viewed on the same level as the other educators.

Under 3 DC

Under 3 DC, a broad based coalition in the District of Columbia, harnesses the voices and power of parents with young children, early educators, advocates, and health professionals to create transformative social change. The Coalition’s efforts center on the people experiencing racial and economic injustice every day. It shines a spotlight on the need for more public investments to support families with infants and toddlers. Together, we can set the city on a path to creating and sustaining a high quality, equitable early childhood system.

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