Current Salaries Unfair to Educators


Nicole Kennedy, Staff Writer

I’ve heard teachers joke about how they don’t get paid enough to deal with the frustrating, fatiguing, and at times fruitless job of wrangling teenage students for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. And while students might acknowledge how challenging they can be, the reality is that teachers are under-compensated for the outstanding work they do.

Such unfairness can be addressed by strikes, like the 1 the Oakland School District’s teachers undertook for 7 days in February and March. Only on March 3, after days educational disruption, were the teacher’s able to secure a reasonable raise.

Mostly, however, teacher earnings lay fallow while other professions’ salaries grow, even if only for inflation. In fact, according to the Washington Post, if teachers’ annual paychecks were to grow proportionally to current classroom spending for today’s school systems, “the average salary would now be $120,000” for each teacher.

However, this is not the case. The same article explains that a teacher who has been employed at the same school for 25 years has an average annual salary of $67,000. The educator’s of the future generation earn less than a Walmart truck driver’s average $73,000 a year.

It is absurd any teacher would make $6,000 less than a Walmart truck driver.  Becoming a teacher requires post-graduate coursework, passing tests that assess expertise in specific subjects as well as general education theory and practice, and continual professional growth requirements.  The time, effort and expense that educators devote to their careers are more in line with lawyers or doctors than truck drivers.

Supporting high school students, especially Campolindo students, many of whom are in pursuit of the highest levels of academic achievement, is no small task.

In a community that expects its schools to offer the very best educational opportunities for its youth, the demand on teachers is particularly intense.  “Volunteering” to advise clubs, coach sports teams, write letters or recommendation, chaperone field trips, and otherwise be heroically active in student life beyond the contractual requirements of the 8-hour instructional day, is the norm for Campolindo teachers.

And for the staff’s round-the-clock devotion to their pupils, they are repaid in broken soap dispensers and defecation on bathroom floors.  Being a teacher is truly a noble pursuit, requiring a thick skin and a short memory, and a relentlessly hopefully view of student potential.

Current teacher salaries in this district do not cut it.

The district should be considering not only what teacher salaries say about how it values current staff, but also how they will impact the recruitment of future educators.

I personally have not heard someone say they wanted to grow up to be a teacher since 2nd grade.  Investing in the teachers of today is also necessary for ensuring that there will be competent, motivated educators tomorrow.

Recent strikes across the country should be a warning to our district officials as they negotiate with our teachers over wages. We are fortunate to have outstanding teachers. They should not be taken for granted.

According to PBS, 78% of Americans believe teachers are paid too little, and 57 percent of all Americans would support a tax for schools, and by association, teachers.

Across the country citizens should be voting to fund public education so that our most valuable professionals receive fair compensation.  In our community, district officials need to show they appreciate the vital role of teachers in student success by offering them what they deserve.