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Study: Preschool teachers make near-poverty wages in Pa.

June 20, 2016
Governance and AccountabilityState & Local
Grace Toohey

While Philadelphia could sweeten this narrative with the recently passed soda tax, aimed at funding pre-K, a new federal report shows that Pennsylvania’s low pay for early-childhood teachers undermines its ability to deliver high-quality education at a critical developmental stage.

Nationwide in 2015, the median annual wage for preschool teachers was $28,570 – about 55 percent of what elementary teachers were paid, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. For a child-care teacher, it was even lower, around $20,320. Such low compensation leaves many early-childhood educators around the poverty line, which is $20,160 for a family of three.

The report also listed Pennsylvania preschool teachers, excluding special education, in the lowest bracket for annual median pay, earning $21,930 to $23,890. Median annual wages for child-care teachers was $19,590. The average kindergarten teacher in the state made more than double: $51,050.