Raises in education requirements should come with raises in pay

Photo Credit: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

Photo Credit: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post

D.C. mother, Elyse Shawpens an op ed letter to the editor on educational requirements and increased pay for early-childhood education workers. Read her take on this growing issue below.

As a D.C. resident, mother to a 3-year-old and researcher who studies gender issues, I am pleased to see discussions about quality early-childhood education. The District’s new regulation requiring child-care workers to have an advanced degree, however, should be accompanied by clear plans for increases in pay. Most concerning, there seems to be no concrete plan to increase the pay in these jobs to match the higher educational requirements [“A higher degree of child care,” Metro, April 1].

Research from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research has found that workers in low-wage “women’s work” are more educated than workers in other low-wage jobs and yet get paid less on average. Child-care workers, in particular, have increased their educational attainment by 21 percentage points since 1994, yet many still live in or near poverty. Virtually all child-care workers — 94 percent — in the United States are women, and nearly 40 percent are women of color.

IWPR’s research has demonstrated that to achieve effectiveness, increases in child-care-worker credentials should be accompanied by increases in wages. Child-care workers have voluntarily invested in improving their education for decades, and many take great pride in their work caring for future generations. To improve the quality of child care, the District should invest in its child-care workers, offering supports to help meet raised education requirements and better pay once they do.

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Post. Read more here.