Marcy Whitebook, director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California-Berkeley, has a useful brief article on the consequences of low pre-K teacher salaries for providing quality pre-K programs on a large scale. This article appears in the latest issue of the Upjohn Institute newsletter.
As Dr. Whitebook points out, pre-K teachers earn quite low wages on average compared to other teachers. Pre-K teacher salaries are less than $20 per hour, whereas kindergarten teacher salaries are close to $35 per hour. This is consistent with evidence I have presented in a previous blog post.
Dr. Whitebook emphasizes that these low salaries lead to higher teacher turnover. Low salaries also discourage high-quality teachers from choosing or persisting in the pre-K field. Higher pre-K teacher salaries do not guarantee better child outcomes. And certainly on a small scale, and in individual pre-K programs, there are dedicated and pre-K teachers who do a great job despite being paid low salaries. But it is hard to imagine how pre-K programs can be implemented on a large scale in a high quality manner without teacher salaries being increased to consistently attract and retain more higher quality teachers.