In 1992, my wife was a lead pre-school teacher in Georgia. She made $9.75 an hour.
Last week, she was offered a lead teacher's position from a national chain that you've heard of. She was offered $8.50 an hour. 19 years later and the pay for the people we pay to take care of our pre-school age kids has gone down? And that $9.75 was in Georgia, which is a much lower cost of living area than Northern VA. Inflation alone should have taken the $9.75 to $14.72. Adjusted for the cost of living, a pre-school teacher in Northern VA should be making $16.58 an hour just to maintain the standard of living my wife had in 1992. In 1992, her pay was almost 3X minimum wage. Today, pre-school teachers are barely making minimum wage. She got another offer, from a different school at $10 an hour. And both these jobs require a college degree. $10 a hour is about as much as any pre-school teacher will ever make.
Put another way, we trust our pre-school age kids to college educated teachers that are paid less than the average Starbucks shift supervisor. And parents wonder why turnover in daycare is such a huge issue?
BTW, she didn't take either job. Both schools pulled a bit of a bait and switch. She was brought in under the auspices of interviewing for a position with 4 or 5 year olds. In both cases she was offered a job with the still-in-diapers set. I've told her to hold out for a job she wants. She wants to teach, not potty-train.