Story and Photos by G.L. TYLER
DC 37 members employed by Head Start recently ratified a three-year contractual agreement that will allow certified teachers in the federally-funded program to earn $68,652 by 2021.
The Head Start educators, members of Local 95, join unionized day-care teachers represented by Local 205 – who ratified their contract agreement this past summer — in becoming the highest paid early childhood educators in the country. The Head Start workers approved their contract Oct. 23, by a 162-26 vote.
The contract will bring the salaries of Head Start teachers into line with their counterparts in the city’s public schools.
The contract calls for a retroactive 1.77 percent wage hike dating from Feb 1. It also provides a ratification bonus of $1,000 for non-certified Head Start employees.
Under Head Start practices, the program’s centers must have a lead teacher with a master’s degree and state certification to remain operational.
But for decades, the program has had difficulty retaining teachers after they earn their master’s degrees as the educators often find better-paying jobs in the city’s public schools.
Addressing this disparity should help alleviate retention issues.
Along with the more than 4,000 members of Local 205, nearly 7,000 day-care workers will have the additional benefits and protections achieved following the unification of DC 37 and DC 1707 earlier this year.
New York City has the second largest Head Start program in the nation, surpassed only by Los Angeles.
Considered the nation’s most comprehensive early childhood education program, Head Start services children for up to four years. The family-centered program works with parents to address educational and health impediments.