The National Head Start Association released a brief which is primarily a call to action for congress to increase their budget. Head Start is a federal program which provides funding for early childhood education (ECE) in poor and low income communities, and according to the brief they released, their workforce is in crisis because they cannot compete with the amount that the workers can earn in private sector jobs. As the brief states “For too long, early childhood education has relied on the benevolence of workers willing to overlook compensation that puts them among the very lowest of paid professions”, which I think is an excellent summation of where they are at. 

Broadly speaking, it is often understood that employees who do things that “matter”, like non-profit work, shouldn’t expect to be paid as much as those who don’t. There are non-profits that buck the trend, but it only takes looking at the job listing for non-profit work to see that many expect a masters but pay less than $50k a year.

It should be noted that ECE is widely regarded to have one of the highest returns on investment and possibly the single most important period of education. Some of the biggest benefits have only been understood recently but science has had evidence of the importance of ECE for decades.

Head Start is asking congress for an increase of $2.5 billion per year, and in the current political climate, that feels somewhat unlikely. It truly is a shame because ECE in general and Head Start in particular is one of the best ways we can lift people out of poverty.

It seems unlikely that congress would get to this, given the general deadlock and the way that any debate on education devolves into questions about CRT, but we can certainly hope.

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