One of the few silver linings in the very challenging early days of the pandemic was that I started to hear much more appreciation for educators. As parents helped their children learn at home, many found just how challenging, complicated, and important educators’ jobs are. In mid-March 2020, just as we started to stay at home, Shonda Rhimes tweeted, “Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.”

Indeed, educators deserve so much more than they receive—especially early educators. Thankfully, with new flexibility offered by the Office of Head Start, we are starting to make some strides toward fairer compensation. The funding application LACOE is preparing to submit to the Office of Head Start includes compensation increases for program staff.

The tradeoff is that we have to reduce the slots we can serve, which is a very difficult decision to make as so many children remain unserved. But right now we are underenrolled and understaffed, so we can make this change to better support our teachers and other staff without displacing anyone.

But this is just one step in the right direction. I look forward to sharing more details in months ahead on career pathway options we are developing for staff. And I certainly encourage everyone to join me in raising our voices to educate all of the state and federal decision makers that investing in our future means investing in our early educators.