This letter to the editor is originally posted at The New York Times.
Re “How Preschool Got Hot,” by Gail Collins (column, Jan. 30):
The debate about how to pay for preschool is a debate about income inequality. Providing full-day preschool for more children will ease low- and middle-income family budgets and provide better outcomes for children. Funding pre-K sufficiently to pay teachers of 4-year-olds comparably to those working with older children will create many more middle-class jobs.
Many educated and talented young people rightly view early childhood education jobs as a pathway to poverty. Even the most well-paid pre-K teachers in school-sponsored settings earn, on average, only three-quarters of the compensation of kindergarten teachers. In community-based public pre-K and Head Start programs, teachers with bachelor’s or higher degrees earn only slightly more than half the average income of comparably educated women, and slightly more than one-third of comparably educated men. Teachers in child care centers fare even worse.
The services intended to ameliorate poverty should not generate it.