San Francisco to Boost Pay for Preschool Teachers, Child Care Workers – CBS San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The City of San Francisco will pay $60 million annually as part of a new initiative into early education programs.

People who run these early education programs, both private and public say it’s extremely difficult recruiting, hiring, and retaining preschool teachers. They believe this boost is much needed for more than just the teachers.

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Nesanna Lee works full-time as a preschool teacher. She’s been doing this for more than 30 years.

“A lot of us really like working with children but we have to choose between what we like and what we can live on,” said Lee.

Lee rides a bus every day and saves what she can. A typical starting-level position here currently pays $18 an hour. The pay raise initiative would bump each educator’s salary by approximately $8,000 to $30,000 annually.

“They are acknowledging that our work is important,” said Lee.

Jerry Yang runs the Kai-Ming Head Start programs, serving low-income families. We asked if Yang has seen many good teachers leave.

“A lot more and more in recent years,” said Yang. “Many of the teachers even have to apply for some government support because they themselves are low income.”

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“This is about creating more economic opportunities, especially for women of color who make up the majority of this workforce,” said Ingrid Mezquita of the SF Office of Early Care and Education.

Children in Kai-Ming Head Start come from families making less than $28,000 for a family of four. At the moment there are more than 2,000 city-funded early educators working with some 6,500 children age 5 and younger.

“It also creates this pathway for people who are interested in coming into early care and education were before the wages would just be too low,” said Mezquita.

The pay raise for teachers could translate to a little more peace of mind for kids, and their families, too.

“If you have staffing changes all the time that’s really hard for the children to be able to trust and for us to build a relationship with the families and children,” said Lee.

“Happy teacher means happy kids. Happy kids means happy parents,” said Yang.

A commercial rent tax to fund early childcare programs like this in the city was passed by voters in 2018.

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The bump in salaries takes effect in July.

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