By Vanessa Petion, Digital Organizer
The Under 3 DC coalition recently hosted a virtual January community meeting with early childhood teachers and providers, community advocates, and featuring special guests, At-Large Councilmember Christina Henderson and Ward 4 Councilmember Janeese Lewis George. Continuing the conversation regarding early childhood educator compensation, over 60 participants attended the meeting to discuss major changes coming to the early learning community this year, including educator payments by this fall.
Early educators have experienced many challenges during the pandemic. On top of their work with children to lay the groundwork K-12 educators build on, many saw their finances take a hit with layoffs or limited work schedules. And, day-to-day work conditions have been colored by uncertainty, learning and implementing rigorous COVID safety practices, and concerns about teachers’ own health and the health of their families as they carry out a high-contact role. Some educators have already jumped ship for higher-wage jobs in a tight labor market. Others may follow soon if an increase in compensation doesn’t happen quickly.
Under 3 DC Coalition Director, Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen who is a member of the Early Educator Equitable Compensation Task Force, gave the educators a hopeful update on where things stand with providing educators with a payment this year and a long-term plan for increased compensation.
In addition, Donavon Holly, an early educator from the Community Education Research Group, spoke about his experience as one of the very few Black males in the early education field. Holly, who has completed his Associate’s degree to further his qualifications as an early educator, noted that he wants to advocate for himself and others to emphasize the importance of early education as an essential career.
Many attendees echoed similar thoughts about the need to be strategic about compensation and the recognition of the importance of early educators. One early educator noted, “To me, it’s not so much about how we will get the money, but that we get it as a recognition of our commitment and values.”
Thankfully, the DC Council is close to following through on its commitment to give educators a bonus this year. On Tuesday, February 1, DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson will introduce legislation to provide the pay supplements by this fall. The Council will vote on the bill soon after its introduction. No opposition is expected.
To watch the anticipated introduction of the emergency legislation on Tuesday, February 1, visit the DC Council website for all viewing information.
Join the Under 3 DC February Community Meeting on Saturday, February 26, at 10 am to talk about language access in the early learning community! Register here, and contact Natasha Riddle Romero to learn more.