NYC training advocates name on mayor to spice up pre-k particular training trainer salaries
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Nearly 100 education advocacy groups sent a joint letter last week asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to address the shortage of preschooler places in special education by keeping the salaries of special education teachers contracted by the Ministry of Education at their level Education partners will generally be increased.
Although many preschoolers with disabilities attend 3-K and Pre-K for all programs, some children with special needs attend privately owned preschools across town for federally mandated services.
In these preschools, special needs teachers are paid mostly by the state, but earn around $ 30,000 less than their general education counterparts, according to the Advocates for Children of New York.
As a result, the turnover rate among special needs pre-school teachers is high. About one in four educators takes a position as a general education teacher each year, according to Chris Driver, executive director of Children’s Services at the nonprofit Interagency Council.
Josephine Okungu, a special education teacher at the Cuomo First Step Early Childhood Center in Richmond Hill, Queens, became one of those teachers in January after her husband was exposed to the pandemic.
The decision to leave her eight-person class was doubly difficult for Okungu, who is also the mother of a disabled child. From personal and professional experience, she understands how special school students struggle with changes in their everyday lives.
“I’ve been there for so long and left in the middle of the school year, there’s nothing that bad,” Okungu said. “It’s not something my own child wants to experience.”
The high turnover rate, caused in part by the appeal of making more money with a general education job, is one reason why so many young children with disabilities have to wait for services. Last year, around 1,200 children with disabilities were waiting for a pre-k seat, according to a recent analysis by AFC.
Some proponents, such as drivers, fear that if nothing is done this year to increase special education teacher salaries, the number of children waiting to be seated could rise.
Although the city’s proposed budget includes millions of dollars in increased funding, none of this would be seen until 2023, and proponents fear that if nothing is done to increase special education teacher salaries, more children will have to wait for vital services.
“Many of our programs currently don’t have enough teachers to teach all of the classrooms, but because not all of the children are in the building they could manage,” Driver told amNewYork Metro. “A lot of directors tell me that they are worried about what might happen this fall.”
In response to the joint June 24 letter, a DOE spokesman said that proponents would ultimately enforce their desire for higher salaries for special preschool educators.
“Our Early Childhood Education Specialists are key partners who care for thousands of children with disabilities in New York City each year, and achieving equal pay for these educators is a priority,” said DOE spokeswoman Sarah Casanovas. “The city’s investment in special education for preschoolers will increase salaries for these teachers, bringing us one step closer to equal pay and allowing the programs to add hundreds of new places for preschoolers with disabilities.”