Top Recommendations for Jewish Early Childhood Educators

By Jasmine Blanchard, Early Childhood Education Consultant

Research conducted by Jasmine Blanchard and Denise Moyes-Schnur, Early Childhood Education Initiative Consultants

Recently, the Early Childhood Education Initiative conducted research on four high-quality Jewish Early Childhood Education sites that paid their teachers $30 or more per hour. We were looking to examine the relationship between compensation, tuition, professional development, and general practices within Jewish Early Childhood Education sites that we could translate into a guide of general best practice that any school could then implement.

Two of the schools included in the study were on the east coast, with both paying slightly higher wages but offering no benefits, and two were on the west coast, offering slightly lower wages compared to the east coast schools, but also providing benefits. After in-depth interviews with these site directors, it was understood that each school was able to create its own systems in regard to professional development and teacher education, with previous directors typically setting the high salary rates. All four schools had important factors that contributed to the success of the employment environment, including teacher prep time without students present, met or exceeded state licensing standards, focused on higher education for their teachers, and implemented numerous professional development opportunities that greatly contributed to teachers skill and expertise. In each school, lay committees comprised of parents helped with overall fundraising efforts, and the host institution was utilized for many in-kind services, such as Jewish education for teachers.

These were some of the many factors that contributed to the overall success of the sites, and helped raise the bar for salary standards for educators. In addition, the study revealed that currently, in the Bay Area, educators are paid approximately $19 per hour, a fairly low rate when considering the high cost of living. When we consider the actual number of hours worked, usually about 30 hours per week at 40 weeks per year according to ECEI Director Janet Harris, this equates to approximately $23,000 annually. So, the question becomes, how can we adequately compensate and retain our educators while attracting trained professionals to the field? This study revealed some salient recommendations that can be adjusted and implemented at any site.

 

HERE ARE THE TOP FIVE RECOMMENDATIONS:
1) Create a salary matrix to understand, justify and standardize salaries in your school;
2) Become aware of teacher education opportunities that already exist in your community, and utilize them;
3) Public universities and community colleges are great places for continued education--see what exists in your area;
4) Implement ongoing Judaic education for your staff;
5) Reach out to host institution clergy as a educational resource;

 

One of the most important recommendations is to create and use a salary matrix. If schools do this, directors are able to justify raises, provide incentives, and understand where, why and how teacher salaries are set. This is essential in professionalizing the field.

While completing this study, it became apparent that data and resources are greatly lacking in the field of Jewish Early Childhood Education, and that there is a great need for more quantifiable information in regard to Jewish Early Childhood Education. Fortunately, the staff of the Early Childhood Education Initiative recently became aware of an organization called JData, an organization that gathers quantifiable information with a recent focus on Jewish Early Childhood Education. See a recent newsletter, and be sure to stay tuned for their research. In the meantime, we highly recommend using this research to advocate on behalf of your school in order to increase teacher salaries, benefits, and professional development.

Please feel free to contact Janet Harris, ECEI Director at JanetH@sfjcf.org for any questions or comments.

 

 

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RECOMMENDATIONS 6 - 20
6) Be innovative, even without a budget--one example? A book club for teachers;
7) Customize professional development plans to the individual teacher;
8) Implement a mentoring program using your current resources or staff;
9) Utilize consultants and the community to enrich the educational environment;
10) Make adult learning meaningful;
11) No money for adult education? Buy a relevant textbook and use it as a guide in the classroom;
12) For compensation and benefits, smaller schools can join together and share resources;
13) Understand the correlation between tuition and salaries in your school;
14) Meet the minimum state standards in regard to teacher to child ratio;
15) Have a low teacher to child ratio;
16) Look for specialists in unexpected places--one example? Parents!
17) Teacher prep time is important time--make sure teachers have this with no students present;
18) Make time for teacher reflection on children's learning;
19) Staff meetings are essential and important--conduct them regularly;
20) Have a fundraising goal, and involve the parents!

Posted

February 29, 2012

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