Cynthia Prete

Occupation: 
Owner/Director

I support a non-traditional union for early childhood educators because I think the way it is set up now, early childhood educators can't get the pay rate that elementary education teachers receive, especially if they work in a private center.  State funding is what needs to happen in order for early educators to get paid what they deserve, because they work so hard.  For me, it's really about getting them the money that they deserve.  If I could do it, I would.  Do I believe they deserve it?  Of course.  But as an owner, I can only do so much with the money that comes in from parents.  It's a vicious circle:  if you raise your rates, you outprice your parents.  If I raise my rates enough, it could be worth it for parents just to stay home with their kids!  If you look at the early ed model, there's no way a private center can survive paying staff what they could make in an elementary school with a bachelor's degree.  If the state's going to force that hand, and if the state's going to regulate so much, they need to come up with salary funding for early educators.

I joined the organizing committee to help get this in motion, because I don't think just me going to the state is going to change anything. It takes a bunch of people with one big voice to get them to hear that there's a problem.  Early ed is not just a business--we're not just talking about numbers, these are little people.  I don't think me alone is going to change anything and I know there are a hundred other people who feel the same way.  And you know, owners hear the word "union" and get scared, but if they understood what it was-- that it's not against owners-- a lot of owners would be on board.