To date, 29 public pre-K[1] programs in 23 states and one U.S. territory have established salary or compensation[2] parity policies to address low and disparate levels of workforce compensation in the early care and education (ECE) field (Friedman-Krauss & Kasmin, 2018). These policies aim to raise the pay or compensation of ECE teachers to the level of similarly educated or qualified teachers in K-12 settings.

Although there has recently been an increased focus on the benefits and challenges of implementing a salary or compensation parity policy, little has been written about how these policies affect the ECE workforce directly. The purpose of this brief is to describe the effect of salary parity on the experiences of pre-K teachers from community-based ECE programs in Alabama. First, we provide a brief overview of ECE parity policies and describe the salary parity policy in Alabama. Next, we describe our methodology and key takeaways from interviews with directors and lead teachers in Alabama.

Several key takeaways emerged from our conversations with ECE directors and teachers in Alabama.

  • With salary parity in place, there is an increased interest among teachers in joining the ECE workforce.
  • Salary parity may also be a useful strategy for increasing workforce retention.
  • Salary parity improves teachers’ economic well-being but does not include other supports that compensation parity could provide.

References

[1] Public pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) is a publicly funded ECE program aimed at preparing 3- to 5-year-olds for kindergarten entry. Public pre-K programs are funded and administered at the city or state level and can be delivered via public school settings, community-based child care settings, or a combination of both settings.

[2] Throughout this brief, we use salary to refer to the wages or pay an employee receives in return for their work. We use compensation to refer to the salary and benefits (e.g., healthcare, retirement, paid time off) employees receive in return for their work.