Skilled Teachers Enough to Fill Pre-K, After-School Jobs

March 7, 2014 5:18 am Last Updated: March 10, 2014 10:49 am

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio’s education expansion will create an estimated 5,500 full- and part-time jobs, as well as allow over a thousand part-time jobs to become full time, according to an Epoch Times analysis.

De Blasio’s plan to invest in education addresses the city’s need to improve education, but also its need for new jobs.

A January Quinnipiac University poll found 20 percent of New York City respondents want the administration to place education as a first priority, while 13 percent answered that the biggest focus should be on solving unemployment.

The mayor’s push for universal prekindergarten aims to open 11,880 new pre-K seats by September. Given that the staff requirement is one head teacher and one assistant teacher per 20 students, it would translate to 1,188 new jobs.

Another 11,760 existing half-day seats are expected to be converted to full-day seats, moving some 1,176 teachers from part-time to full-time jobs.

About 10 percent of the pre-K seats would serve special needs students. That would mean hundreds of professionals will be needed, such as speech therapists.

New programs established by community organizations will also need management and administrative staff. Epoch Times offers no estimate for this. However, early childhood programs run by the Children’s Aid Society, a nonprofit in child care since 1853, requires 400 staff members, including teachers, to maintain programs for over 1,000 children, according to Justin Burke, assistant director of marketing and communications at The Children’s Aid Society.

After-School Jobs

The other part of the mayor’s plan is the expansion of after-school programs for middle schoolers by 50,233 seats. As the Department of Health requires at least one adult per 15 children, the planned expansion would yield some 3,348 jobs, though mostly part time.

Additionally, the city’s Department of Education (DOE) will require each after-school program to have a full-time director.

Assuming an average program would enroll 60 children, over 800 program directors would be needed. Each job requires the applicant to possess a bachelor’s degree.

Another slew of jobs popped up when DOE hired part-timers last month to help with quality reviews of pre-K programs. The DOE didn’t say how many were hired, but as they must conduct site visits, it can be assumed several hundred were necessary.

Skilled Staff

With just a few months to implement the plan before school starts in September, de Blasio was confronted multiple times on how he plans to staff the expansion.

There are seven early childhood education schools in the city. In 2010 they graduated over 300 students, most of whom graduated with master’s degrees, according to EducationNews.org

The mayor said he would depend on the talent reserves created by the recession. “There’s been many years where there hasn’t been opportunities to hire new teachers, so there’s a backlog of folks who have the training,” he said at a March 6 press conference.

“Every year the Department of Education gets about 2,000 applications for employment from teachers who are early childhood education certified,” he added.

Benefits Gap

A potential problem with some of the new jobs is the difference in the quality of pre-K jobs offered by community organizations, and those run by the Department of Education. The new jobs will likely include both.

Community organizations can’t match teacher salaries offered within the school system. While DOE teachers start with a salary of about $45,000, teachers at community organizations are paid $30,000 to $40,000, and DOE also provides better benefits.

Multiple community providers confirmed that the reality makes it difficult for them to retain people, as teachers come to them to get trained, while keeping an eye out for a DOE opening.

“As soon as they get fully prepared, of course, they leave,” said Selena Lubell, Head Start director at the Child Development Support Corporation.

Even with their wage handicap, community organizations are still able to get teachers, according to Lubell.

“There are many people waiting for jobs,” she said. “It’s better to work for a small amount than not to work at all.”

Lubell’s been with Head Start for more than a decade, and considers it a matter of dedication for many people. “When you live within a community and you see the needs the community has, you just fit,” she said.

“Having more money doesn’t give you the satisfaction, although it’s important.”

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Estimated Job Creation

Proposed NYC pre-K and after school teachers and directors

1,188   New pre-K teachers

1,176    Part-time pre-K teachers to full time

3,348   New part-time after-school instructors

800      New after-school program directors

180       New special education teachers

Source: Epoch Times analysis based on reporting and research