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TK may offer best-paying jobs in early childhood education, report says

The expansion of transitional kindergarten to all California 4-year-olds will create plum employment opportunities for the roughly 17,000 current early childhood teachers who meet the state’s vetting standards, according to a new analysis from Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment).

The report shows that center-based teachers with a bachelor’s degree could see their salary double with a job in transitional kindergarten. Teachers with a bachelor’s degree running a home-based family child care program could see their take-home pay increase nearly two and a half times (240%). 

Other key findings include the significance of health benefits in a field that often lacks them. TK jobs, as part of the TK-12 system, offer health and retirement benefits. That’s a stark contrast to the fact that only 70% of child care centers offer health care coverage. Roughly 80% of family child care providers have no retirement savings. 

Child care workers, predominantly women of color, have long been among the lowest-paid workers in the country, experts say. About a third of all child care workers are on some kind of public assistance, research shows.

While some child care advocates worry that access to TK employment will drain teachers out of the already struggling sector in a tight labor market, others are pushing to create more equitable pathways between the professions and raise wages across the field.