Date of Award

Winter 1-9-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Education: Curriculum and Teaching

First Advisor

Dr. Antony Picciano

Academic Program Adviser

Dr. Marshall George


NYC’s universal Pre-K (PKFA) was implemented through New York Early Education Centers (NYCEECs) and public schools, without considering compensation parity across settings. This study investigates the impact of unequal compensation policies on the experiences of directors, teachers, and parents affiliated with NYCEECs, and how they compare or contrast with the policymakers’ discourse around those policies. While other studies have investigated the PKFA implementation (Akaba et al., 2019; Falk & Souto-Manning, 2020; Fuller & Leibovitz, 2021a; Reid et al., 2019), none have privileged the ecology of those working at and attending NYCEECs. Through critical policy analysis, this study utilized Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological systems theory and Schneider and Ingram's (1993) social construction and policy design theory to understand how policies privilege some groups over others. Data was collected from relevant documents from 2014 to 2020 and interviews with directors, teachers, study plan teachers, and parents (n=40). Findings revealed a dissonance between policymakers' conceptualization of the PKFA implementation and the reality in practice. Compensation disparities in the system caused and continue to cause educator turnover and issues of quality. Specifically, the study revealed that the salary sub-parity passed by policymakers in 2019 had a minimal effect on the sustainability of the ECE system in NYC. There continue to be structural 2 differences in compensation and work conditions that threaten the survival of NYCEECs, and ultimately impact children and families. These disparities have been exacerbated by the pandemic. This study recommends reforms that include true parity and equal work conditions across settings.



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