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Rights, Raises, and Respect for Early Childhood Teachers

by Marcy Whitebook and Rory Darrah
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In its landmark 1972 report, Windows on Day Care, the National Council of Jewish Women spoke of the inadequate supply and quality of child care services in the United States:

Large numbers of children are neglected; still larger numbers of children now receive care which, at best, can be called only custodial, and which, at its worst, is deplorable. Only a relatively small proportion are benefitting from truly developmental care.

The plight of child care teachers was central to the report's analysis:

Those interested in children must face the reality that good care is expensive, because good care requires people of ability and training who must be paid adequately if they are to be attracted to this field of work. The quality of child care depends on what we are willing to pay those who are responsible for it. We are shortchanging children when pay scales such as those reported by survey participants were found characteristic of so large a proportion of centers, both non-profit and proprietary.

Clearly, when wage scales such as those reported occur so widely and on so large a scale, we are asking thousands of non-professional workers to subsidize the care of ­children of other women. We are ...

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