In the past three years, I have noticed that the teacher’s unions are now allowing teachers’ aides to belong to the union. But Preschool teachers are not allowed. We are still considered as the public babysitters, even though Preschool teachers need to have a degree in Education; some of us are getting a Masters. As a teacher’s aid I don’t have to go any further than an Associates degree.
Preschool teachers put in 40 hours plus a week teaching our children of three to five years old social skills, pre-reading, pre-writing, pre-math, physical education, art, science, social studies, and community service. Preschool teachers have to observe, record, grade, do work sampling, report three times a year, and sit down to a parent/teachers conference, several times a year.
Preschool teachers take home work so that we have the time to teach in class. They also buy things for our students, without compensation from our employers. The differences are these teachers work year around. They work eight hour days, getting a hour break but many times are not able to leave the classroom due to teacher/student ratios. There are no other breaks. Their art classes, computer classes, physical education, Health classes, and even swim classes are done by the Preschool teachers. Yes, some are certified life guard/instructors.
I love teaching my students, and this age is very rewarding. I have seen my students grow and when they leave my room for Kindergarten they know their letters, numbers, the calendar, colors, shapes, can write their names, names of dinosaurs, how to handle many social skills, and cooperation with others. They know how to use a computer, beginnings of swimming, are able to play playground games, jump, run, hop, skip, and many other actions. They know how to use paints, markers, crayons, chalk, glue, beading, measuring, weighting, and cooking.
My question is why are we still being paid minimum wages, and treated as babysitters? If I opened up a babysitting service and charged seven dollars an hour and had four children with the only responsibility of watching them and keeping them safe, I would be making $28 an hour. I make less than $12 and I have been working as an educator for 20 years. Go figure.