Friday, May 06, 2016

Sacramento Teachers Deserve a Pay Raise

Printed in  The Bee

California’s Day of the Teacher is coming up next week, but teachers in the Sacramento City Unified School District aren’t feeling appreciated.
Superintendent José Banda says the district can’t afford a 5 percent raise that I and other members of the Sacramento City Teachers Association are seeking (“To help students and teachers, district must be financially stable,” Viewpoints, May 2).

My husband and I are both teachers at Rosemont High School, and our three children attend city schools. Every day, we experience first-hand the effects of misplaced spending priorities in our district.
This school year, for example, some Rosemont students taking a Spanish-language course have been taught by a series of substitute teachers who don’t speak Spanish.
It’s no fault of the substitutes, or of the principal. Rosemont is a school where teachers want to be assigned, in part because of the quality of our administrative leadership team.
Rather it’s because our salaries are so low that the district can’t recruit and retain enough teachers to fill vacancies. The district is in the best financial position that it has been in for a long time and should provide wages comparable to our surrounding districts.

Unfortunately, my situation is not uncommon. With 10 years of experience, my husband and I would each be paid approximately $16,000 more per year ($32,000 total) if we worked in the San Juan Unified School District.
In a recent survey, 53 percent of district teachers said they were considering taking a job in a neighboring district because our salaries were so low. As vacancies grow to crisis proportions, our superintendent and school board oppose taking immediate measures to solve the problem. They talk about equity being a priority for our students, but if we are unable to fill vacancies, the impact will disproportionately be at our lower socioeconomic schools.
How is that equitable? Our students deserve better.
Banda states he is committed to making our schools a destination district. But it will never be a destination district for students if it’s not a destination district for educators.
Chesshuwa Beckett is a teacher at Rosemont High School in the Sacramento City Unified School District. She can be contacted at

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