Letters to the Editor: School district should offer teachers better pay

Letters to the Editor: School district should offer teachers better pay

Letters to the Editor

Editor's Note: These remarks were presented at the March 24 Board of Education meeting and submitted for publication as a letter to the editor.

Good evening,

I usually stand up before you to discuss issues facing my members or our district as a whole, but tonight I would like to begin speaking more personally. I want to talk to you about why I teach in Alameda.

I started my career here as student teacher at Lum and Otis elementary schools. I chose to only apply for teaching positions in Alameda because I wanted to teach in the community where I lived. The joy that I get when I walk around town and run into students and their families whom I’ve had the pleasure to teach and form bonds with is indescribable. It’s part of what binds my family and me to this place, knowing that the future of Alameda is all around us.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done in Alameda Unified over the past nine years. I have had the good fortune to work with some amazing colleagues who are extremely dedicated to their students and the families we serve. Together we work tirelessly to face new challenges and additional demands from the state such as Common Core implementation.

No one gets into teaching with the purpose of becoming rich, and the rewards that come with teaching extend far beyond our paychecks, but financial stability is certainly a goal for most adults.

Many compensation packages for educators in neighboring districts are much greater than in AUSD, and those educators still have the same opportunities to help students that we do here. Even when you consider that some of our neighboring districts do not contribute to health care benefits, I would still be earning more money for my family doing the same job in any of these surrounding districts. We are not offering competitive compensation.

We know that California is due to have a teacher shortage in upcoming years especially for special education, math and science teaching positions. We started this year with unfilled positions, which negatively impacted our students. Our district has already lost many highly qualified teachers to other districts, and we cannot allow this trend to continue.

It is not a question of if teachers will leave Alameda to work in higher paying districts; it is only a question of how many resignations there will be this June, and the following years.

Last week AUSD presented their monetary offer to AEA. Given that the state is appropriating more money for education this year than in any of the past several years, it is hard to understand why the district opted to present the offer they did. AUSD’s values state “that the district has an interest in attracting and maintaining a competitive workforce.” Alameda teachers are currently second from the bottom on the compensation scale in the Alameda-Contra Costa area with only Oakland being below us. This offer will keep us at that level while our colleagues in surrounding areas are moving up the scale. When you factor in the known increase in (pension) costs and the projected increase in medical benefits, it negates any compensation increase to our members.

Is that really the message you want to send our educational professionals?

Is this the new day you’ve been talking about?

Audrey Hyman
President, Alameda Education Association