BlogThe fight for early education pay equity is far from over

November 10, 2021

By Under 3 DC

Ready to build on a monumental win out of the most recent DC Council budget season, Under 3 DC hosted a Community Meeting last week for child care teachers to learn more about the new public funding for compensation, and to share their needs and concerns. Seventy educators and advocates participated in the conversation, which featured special guests At-Large Councilmember Robert White and Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray. 

Everyone at the meeting agreed that as teachers responsible for the care and education of infants and toddlers at the most tender age, critical support is long overdue. 

Throughout the meeting, educators voiced their concerns regarding compensation and the need for support to ensure that they can succeed professionally and personally. The conversation echoed a common similar sentiment throughout: In nurturing DC’s youngest, early educators must be tended to as well.

One teacher of 18 years said, “Very few early childhood educators look like me, a black man. I want to show others that there is a real career in early childhood and that early educators deserve their pay respects.” 

Another attendee noted that fair compensation falls at the most basic level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs since it constitutes the means to acquiring basic necessities for a healthy and thriving individual. We know that children struggle to learn when they are hungry or stressed. The same goes for teachers, whose ability to provide high quality education and care depends on their other basic needs being met.

To round out the meeting, Councilmembers Gray and R. White gave remarks about the importance of early learning in the District and heard educators share admirable stories of their commitment to excellence and extraordinary personal sacrifice. Both councilmembers committed to staying engaged in the compensation process and engaged in the campaign for pay equity. 

The November community meeting was the first in what will be a monthly space for educators and families to engage in building an early childhood system, as envisioned in the Birth-to-Three law, that works for them. Community meetings will include opportunities to learn more, engage with policymakers, and take action around the important issue of early childhood education.

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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