Across Indiana and throughout the country, there is a meager and dwindling supply of qualified early childhood education (ECE) educators. This insufficient supply – projected to top 9,000 teachers statewide in the coming years, outpacing the national average — has its roots in inadequate compensation ranges that result in shallow talent pools and fragmented pipelines, suboptimal teacher preparation methods that are time consuming and relatively costly, and outmoded workforce structures that emphasize regulatory compliance over classroom effectiveness.
Magnifying this shortage are high turnover rates within the field. National estimates of annual turnover hover around 30%, and 16% of teachers report planning to leave the workforce within the next three years. Here in Indiana, while the supply has been steadily growing, it is not keeping pace with demand, and the turnover rate is more than double the growth rate. Without intervention, Indiana will be saddled with an even greater deficit in the early educator workforce by 2026. Diversity within the ECE workforce is also particularly troubling. Nationally, only 36% of the workforce is comprised of individuals of color, and in Indiana that number drops to 14%. Furthermore, of the nearly 30,000 ECE workers in Indiana, only 7% are men – consistent with the national average.
While ECE educators consistently fall into the lowest income percentiles of all workers in the country, for educators of color, economic distress is more pronounced partially because they are more likely to work as assistant teachers. African American workers earn, on average, $0.78 less per hour than their white/Caucasian counterparts in similar center-based roles even after controlling for educational attainment.