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Budget Amendment Vote Moves District Closer to Increasing Early Educator Compensation
WASHINGTON—Today, the DC Council took the first big step toward funding Birth-to-Three for All, the District’s landmark early learning legislation. Councilmember Charles Allen introduced a budget amendment to the Committee of the Whole at today’s meeting that would fund early educator compensation increases and support other public good programs. Eight out of 13 councilmembers voted to pass the amendment, which raises revenue with a 3% personal tax increase on DC’s highest earners. This was the Council’s first vote on the FY2022 budget.
Under 3 DC Coalition Director Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen said, ”Our work is not complete, but this is a huge step forward for the District and a first for the country. I am grateful to the Council for their support. Their votes today prove that our community’s voices are powerful together. I am ecstatic that we are moving closer to an equitable early childhood system that gives every infant and toddler all the opportunities they need, starting with fairly compensating early educators.”
Other coalition leaders lauded today’s vote, thinking of its potentially positive impact on the broader community. Carrie Thornhill, president of the DC Early Learning Collaborative (DCELC), said, “DC lawmakers stood tall today for the public good of the city’s children, families, and early educators.”
Jacob Feinspan, executive director of Jews United for Justice, said, “One of Jews United for Justice’s core Jewish values is making sure that everyone has what the Torah calls dei machsoro, resources sufficient for their needs. With today’s vote, thousands more families will have the basic resources they need, like housing and childcare. This is a step toward a DC where everyone is able to thrive, regardless of their race, their ward, or their income.”
LaDon Love, executive director of SPACEs in Action, reflected on Under 3 DC’s mission and economic fairness for educators. “When the DC Council voted yes to investing in the most vulnerable DC working families who rely on childcare, they made the right choice,” Love said. “We are finally on the path to increasing the investment in early learning educators, who are primarily Black and brown women. It is time that our childcare sector is paid fair wages for developing the minds of DC babies and toddlers.”
Equity and justice remain priorities for Under 3 DC. Kimberly Perry, executive director of DC Action, explained, “Today, the DC Council took a huge step towards putting the District of Columbia on the path towards a fair and equitable recovery for children and working families. Thanks to the tireless organizing efforts of the Under 3 DC coalition, we are closer than we have ever been to creating an early education system that works for everyone, including the Black and brown women who provide fundamental, life-changing educational experiences for our youngest District residents.”
DCFPI Legislative Director Tazra Mitchell said, “DCFPI praises the DC Council for approving a modest tax increase on high-income residents to deliver on the promise of the Birth-to-Three Act and fund permanent, living wages for thousands of early educators struggling to make ends meet. Today’s vote affirms the value and contributions of Black and brown women, and this vote springs us closer towards realizing racial justice, economic justice, and the vision that equity begins at birth.”
Under 3 DC looks to August 3 for the second budget vote, and August 10 when the Council will likely introduce and vote on an amendment to update the language in Birth-to-Three to establish a mechanism that protects funding going forward.
Under 3 DC harnesses the voices and power of the District’s parents with young children, early educators, and community-based organizations to shine a spotlight on the need for more public investments in early education and health programs for infants and toddlers. Together, we can set the District of Columbia on a path to creating and sustaining a high-quality, equitable early childhood system.