Examining Biden’s Educator Pay Proposal

(IntegrityTimes.com) – Head Start initiatives are federally supported programs for children from birth to age 5 which are designed to help children and their families. While centered around learning and development, they also include meals, health checks and assistance for parents.

They are funded by the Federal government through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as local and state sources. There are also specialty Head Start programs that focus on specific groups such as Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) which is specifically for families engaged in agricultural work.

The Biden administration is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to raise the annual salaries of some of the educators who work for Head Start. The proposed pay increases are designed to raise salaries to be more congruent with public elementary school teachers, which would hopefully address the problem of Head Start’s high staff turnover rate, which became especially high during the pandemic.

Currently the average salary for Head Start teachers is about $39,000 a year, which is significantly lower than public school workers with similar credentials. Many people who leave employment with Head Start go into work in retail or even food services which can often pay better. The national shortage of qualified teachers comes even more sharply into play for Head Start, as the low pay means there are fewer applicants waiting in the wings to replace those who have left.

However, while the White House is pushing for higher compensation for the Head Start teachers, Congress has not approved more funding. So, if the increases go ahead, the programs will have to cut staff and reduce enrollment to keep functioning. These programs focus on offering assistance to families and children who are already suffering from poverty, and many Head Start staff are worried that further cuts would severely limit how many people they can help.

Public school teachers are concerned that these raises will simply re-allocate funding from programs for children with special needs. In their proposal, though, the HHS’ Administration for Children and Families wrote that if the programs are forced to become smaller that would be an “acceptable tradeoff” for improving staff compensation.

Copyright 2024, IntegrityTimes.com