City Hall rally supports higher wages for early education teachers

More than 1,000 people, including hundreds of young children, rallied in front of San Francisco City Hall Friday morning to support higher wages for early care educators.

During the sixth annual Walk Around the Block event, organized by the San Francisco Child Care Providers’ Association, parents, children and educators called upon local leaders to support higher wages for early education teachers and childcare providers.

Early education that takes place in preschools and at childcare centers before a child enters kindergarten is essential for success later in the child’s life, according to the SFCCPA.

Early care teachers, however, are not getting paid enough, with most earning about $32,000 per year, which is $24,700 below the median salary of a K-12 public school teacher, the SFCCPA said.

Executive director for Family and Child Empowerment Services San Francisco Lawland Long said:

“This industry, childcare, is a second class citizen in the world of education, compared to college and K-12. … People, including our government, think it’s just taking care of kids. But this is 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday for many of us, 250 days a year.”

Low wages within the early education system can impact the quality of care and education children receive, as many teaching positions are left open because schools and child care centers have a hard time attracting and retaining teachers because of the low wages. In turn, without the necessary staff, more children are put on wait lists for childcare, SFCCPA officials said.

San Francisco currently has more than 3,000 children on the wait list for childcare slots, as teaching positions remain unfilled.

Supervisor Norman Yee, who spoke at the event, said:

“The field is asking for help. … If we want quality, we need to pay attention to the salaries of the teachers in the early education field, because they’re barely getting paid minimum wage at this point.”