Harkins calls for investments to stop ‘mass exodus’ from early childhood education field

Joins fellow lawmakers at ‘workforce behind the workforce’ rally

ERIE, June 6 – Concerned by the sharp decline in early childhood education teachers, state Rep. Pat Harkins joined fellow lawmakers at the state Capitol today to call for greater investments in early childhood education.

Harkins, who is co-chair of the Early Childhood Education Caucus, told those gathered for the “workforce behind the workforce” rally that a mass exodus from the field threatens to affect the quality of critical pre-K programs throughout the state.

“The statistics are grim – they show that early education teachers on average make just $12.43 per hour and that 44% have had to use a payday loan or borrow from friends or family to cover basic expenses,” Harkins said. “Not surprisingly, half of all early ed teachers surveyed said they are thinking of leaving the field within the next five years.

“Earlier this year, the governor spoke about the importance of early education and the need to invest in programs like Pre-K Counts, and a poll showed that nearly all Pennsylvanians agree that early education is important.

“We need to make these investments a priority now and ensure we can pay teachers a living wage. If we can’t attract and retain early childhood educators for quality programs that give kids the right start, we’re going to feel the ripple effects all throughout our workforce and economy.”