Some Factors Affecting the Supply of and Demand for Pre-School Teachers in New York City
by Ruth E. Salley - 1943
The purpose of this study is twofold: to assemble and analyze data concerning a selected list of factors which appear to affect the balance between demand for and supply of teachers in the pre-school and primary grades in New York City; and, in addition, to present a simple method of employee and job accounting which will lend itself to adoption by the schools training teachers for pre-school and primary teaching.
THE purpose of this study is twofold: to assemble and analyze data concerning a selected list of factors which appear to affect the balance between demand for and supply of teachers in the pre-school and primary grades in New York City; and, in addition, to present a simple method of employee and job accounting which will lend itself to adoption by the schools training teachers for pre-school and primary teaching.1
The following factors, which seem to have direct bearing upon the relationship between supply and demand in the preschool and primary teaching profession, were selected for investigation: (1) number of children in New York City of preschool and primary age; (2) number and types of educational groups which meet pre-school needs; (3) sources of support of these groups; (4) number of teachers employed; (5) number of training schools or other sources of teachers; (6) tuition costs for pre-school teacher training; (7) reasons given for entering pre-school
teacher training; (8) teacher turnover in the field; (9) salaries reported by preschool teachers; (10) teacher qualifications reported by employing institutions.
Since few figures were available except for the public school kindergartens, two questionnaires were developed to secure the necessary data. A postcard form was sent to graduates of all institutions in New York City with teacher training courses on the pre-school and primary level, June, 1935, through June, 1940. A single page mimeographed form was sent to private schools and welfare groups in New York City having pre-school children in attendance.
Teacher preparation ranged from three-year training school course to graduate university study. Analysis of the 848 returns from the postcard inquiry revealed "desire to work with young children" as the most frequently stated reason for choice of vocation. Of the positions reported on this form, approximately one third were teaching positions on the elementary or pre-school level in New York City. More than 73 per cent of these were in private schools. Another third were teaching positions on the same level outside New York City; 31 per cent represented employment other than teaching on this level. The returns gave evidence of a fairly rapid rate of turnover of teachers in the years studied. Although the data concerning salaries are inadequate, there is indication of extremely low earnings in many positions and lack of salary standards in other than public school positions.
The answers to the questionnaire sent to the schools and groups having pre-school classes showed a great diversity in tuition rates, even within types of institutions. There was marked lack of standardization both in educational and in experiential requirements stated by institutions employing pre-school teachers. Although only a small percentage of the potential pre-school population was actually attending pre-school groups, it is doubtful whether the increase in the number of teachers prepared for the profession during the period studied could be justified on the basis of the demand. Lack of organized information and lack of standards in the field loom as major contributing factors to the apparent oversupply of pre-school teachers for the period.
The study shows the need for the maintenance of accurate supply-demand statistics in the pre-school field in New York City and for the establishment of minimum standards with regard to both working conditions and salary in other than public school positions. It demonstrates a method of gathering current data which could be employed at little cost by the teacher-training institutions in New York City. By this method, basic supply-demand information could be kept up to date, available for application to current situations and as a basis for advance plans.
1 By RUTH E. SALLEY, Ph.D, Teachers College, Columbia University, Contributions to Education, No. 870.