Once the public learns how little early childhood teachers make, the vast majority support wage increases

Jodi Bell, lead toddler teacher at Teaching Tree Early Childhood Learning Center in Loveland, outlines a child's foot. (Ann Schimke/Chalkbeat)
Jodi Bell, lead toddler teacher at Teaching Tree Early Childhood Learning Center in Loveland, outlines a child's foot. (Ann Schimke/Chalkbeat)
Jodi Bell, lead toddler teacher at Teaching Tree Early Childhood Learning Center in Loveland, outlines a child’s foot. (Ann Schimke/Chalkbeat)

By Ann SchimkeChalkbeat 

More than 80 percent of Colorado voters—including a solid majority in both major political parties—believe the state should increase access to quality early childhood education and offer coaching and education to new parents, according to a new poll.

The poll released Thursday also revealed overwhelming support for better pay for early childhood teachers, particularly after voters got details on how little these workers make. Initially, 60 percent agreed early childhood teachers are paid too little, but that number jumped to 79 percent once pollsters shared the fact that such teachers make $10 an hour on average.

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-10-20-12-am

The bipartisan poll of 500 voters was commissioned by the national advocacy group First Five Years Fund in partnership with the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Colorado is one of four traditional swing states where polling was conducted on early childhood topics.

The First Five Years fund last commissioned this type of polling in Colorado in 2014 and there were notable swings in responses to certain questions over the two-year period.

For example, the percentage of respondents who believe Colorado should be doing more to ensure kids are ready for kindergarten increased from 52 percent in 2014 to 71 percent in 2016. The two subgroups that saw the biggest jumps in support were men without kids at home and respondents not affiliated with any political party.

At the same time, the percentage of voters who prioritize holding the line on taxing and spending over ensuring sufficient funding for public education jumped from 36 percent in 2014 to 43 percent in 2016. In both years, a little more than half of voters prioritized sufficient funding for public education.

Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.