By Amy DeFelice

I work at an award-winning preschool in Sonora. Daily, my coworkers and I teach, socialize, build relationships with and advocate for the children we work with.

Our curriculum involves all the areas of development you would expect from a preschool: science, math, language arts, fine motor, music and movement, health and safety, and so on. However, my coworkers and I are also socializing the children and supporting their development cognitively, psychologically, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually at times.

The importance of these developmental aspects are often overlooked if acknowledged at all. We are teaching the children how to adapt to the environment they are experiencing, forming the basis of how they will perceive and react to every interaction they encounter. These children are discovering who they are and how they will participate in life.

Recently, it has been pointed out to me that preschool teachers make as much money in a year as parking lot attendants. I fail to understand how a person who is helping raise society, perhaps the most important job in our community, has such a low-income status.

On one hand, it comforts me to know that my coworkers are not there for the money; they are there because of a deep passion and devotion to these children. However, I can’t let go of the vast gap between importance and income.

Is there a lack of funding on the county or state level? I understand that quality childcare is expensive and has only been rising in the past decade. However, after having a similar conversation with my boss, I was enlightened to the fact that although child-care rates have gone up, 95 percent of the gross income from tuition at our school goes to the teachers, all of whom are making minimum wage or a few dollars more.

My question to the public is “What can we do about this?” Money is not everything, and in fact I believe that it’s the little things that count.

However, how much higher is the tolerance of a preschool teacher who has slept in a warm house, eaten a full breakfast, and has driven to work without worrying about their car running out of gas.

How much more efficient could we become if monetary stressors were not on our mind walking into the classroom?

I believe a sense of security allows everyone to be more present in the activity they are participating in. Why not extend that security to the people raising society?

I also believe in personal responsibility: developing the ability to leave the world outside as I walk into work, and I try to do this daily. With all this said, there is still an itch that goes unscratched in me every time I think about the effort, love, focus, and compassion I witness at the preschool versus the average day of any parking lot attendant.

How far do his ripples in life extend into society? How far do my ripples extend?

Without intending to sound proud or judgmental, I think preschool teachers deserve fair compensation for the work they do, and parking lot attendant income does not seem fair to me.

Without teachers, there would be no doctors. How much better could we be if we had the resources to live better lives? How much more energy could be put into these children?

If you think this is not your problem, I implore you to ponder this: everyone should have an interest in everyone else’s child, because that child will grow into a participating and, hopefully, contributing member of society.