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Same Classroom, Different Salaries: Special Education Pre-K Teachers Earn Dramatically Less Than Their General Education Co-Teachers

Inside classroom No. 12 at Brooklyn’s HeartShare Taranto preschool, children play side-by-side with blocks, puzzles, or at a pretend kitchen each day. Roughly half are students with disabilities, including physical impairments, autism, and speech delays. The others are typically developing children. 

The Bensonhurst program is one of hundreds of community-based organizations that are part of Pre-K For All, the city’s free preschool program for 4-year-olds. Classroom No. 12 is supposed to have at least two certified teachers — one who is qualified in general education, and one qualified to work with children with special needs.

But the special education teacher left at the beginning of the year in search of a higher paycheck at a public school. The spot has been vacant ever since.

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