In agreeing to substantial increases in starting pay for certified Teachers at day-care centers run by community-based organizations to give them parity with those employed by the Department of Education, Mayor de Blasio put the city’s money where his mouth is.
He takes understandable pride in the expanded pre-kindergarten program that is one of his signature initiatives. And when District Council 1707, whose Local 205 represents those instructors, pushed hard to remedy the decades-old wage gap, the Mayor responded.
While only 300 employees are affected from a membership of more than 4,000 counting janitors, cooks and other support staff, it represents an important step to remedy chronic high turnover of more than 30 percent among instructional staff employed by the CBOs under contracts with the city. Those organizations provide education services for 60 percent of the students enrolled in the citywide pre-k program.
The deal does not remedy the gap at the top of the pay scale between Teachers there and those working directly for the Department of Education and represented by the United Federation of Teachers. Nor do the salary gains apply to Teachers who lack certification. But they certainly offer a powerful incentive to those instructors to get certified, and are a step toward eventually addressing maximum pay while keeping instructors on the job long enough to qualify for it.
It also opens the door for similar upgrades for 2,000 Head Start employees in the program who are represented by another DC 1707 local.
As DC 1707 President Kim Medina said during a City Hall press conference in exhorting Local 205 members to ratify the deal, “You will now be able to pay your rent, hold your head up high, and be able to go back to school to do more for yourself, for your children, and your own home.”
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