Top Recommendations for Jewish Early Childhood EducatorsFebruary 29, 2012
By Jasmine Blanchard, Early Childhood Education Consultant
Recently, the Early Childhood Education Initiative conducted research on four high-quality Jewish Early Childhood Education sites that paid their teachers $30 or more per hour. We were looking to examine the relationship between compensation, tuition, professional development and general practices within Jewish Early Childhood Education sites that we could translate into a guide of general best practice that any school could then implement. Two of the schools included in the study were on the east coast, with both paying slightly higher wages but offering no benefits, and two were on the west coast, offering slightly lower wages compared to the east coast schools, but also providing benefits.
After in-depth interviews with these site directors, it was understood that each school was able to create its own systems in regard to professional development and teacher education, with previous directors typically setting the high salary rates. All four schools had important factors that contributed to the success of the employment environment, including teacher prep time without students present, met or exceeded state licensing standards, focused on higher education for their teachers, and implemented numerous professional development opportunities that greatly contributed to teachers skill and expertise. In each school, lay committees comprised of parents helped with overall fundraising efforts, and the host institution was utilized for many in-kind services, such as Jewish education for teachers. These were some of the many factors that contributed to the overall success of the sites, and helped raise the bar for salary standards for educators.
In addition, the study revealed that currently, in the Bay Area, educators are paid approximately $19 per hour, a fairly low rate when considering the high cost of living. When we consider the actual amount of hours worked, usually about 30 hours per week at 40 weeks per year according to ECEI Director Janet Harris, this equates to approximately $23,000 annually. So, the question becomes, how can we adequately compensate and retain our educators while attracting trained professionals to the field? This study revealed some salient recommendations that can be adjusted and implemented at any site.
One of the most important recommendations is to create and use a salary matrix. If schools do this, directors are able to justify raises, provide incentives, and understand where, why and how teacher salaries are set. This is essential in professionalizing the field.
While completing this study, it became apparent that data and resources are greatly lacking in the field of Jewish Early Childhood Education, and that there is a great need for more quantifiable information in regard to Jewish Early Childhood Education. Fortunately, the staff of the Early Childhood Education Initiative recently became aware of an organization called JData, an organization that gathers quantifiable information with a recent focus on Jewish Early Childhood Education. See a recent newsletter, and be sure to stay tuned for their research. In the meantime, we highly recommend using this research to advocate on behalf of your school in order to increase teacher salaries, benefits, and professional development. Please feel free to contact Janet Harris, ECEI Director at JanetH@sfjcf.org for any questions or comments.