Why Everyone Should Support the Teacher Fair Pay Act

I recently stumbled upon a website called Transparent California where you can actually see how much public employees in the states are paid on a yearly basis.  I was shocked to find a teacher at the top of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) section, who was grossing a total pay & benefits of $420,981.00! I’m hoping that this is a mistake and Transparent California can explain such an astounding salary, especially since a new measure titled Teacher Fair Pay Act is being proposed as a statewide ballot and we really need to support it.

According to Education Week web site:

Getting the measure on the ballot will require proponents to gather 365,880 signatures. It will then be up to voters to approve a two-cent hike in the sales tax to pay for the salary increase. Right now, the measure is being prepared for the ballot by the state’s attorney general who will have it ready around October 22. Supporters of the effort will then be issued petitions, and will have 180 days to collect the required number of signatures.

And the Los Angeles Times recently reported:

The proposed measure would require that credentialed teachers in the state are paid no less than lawmakers, most of whom earn $104,118 in yearly pay. That would be a substantial pay bump for most of the state’s teachers. According to the state education department, average teacher salaries range from around $40,000 to $96,000, depending on the school’s size and the teacher’s experience level. The initiative would impose a two-cent hike on the state sales tax to pay for the salary increase. It is being reviewed by the state attorney general before backers can gather the signatures to put it on the ballot.

It is a long shot but it is definitely worth the effort. Teacher candidates are now required to take more classes and exams than attorneys and doctors. But teachers (especially ones new to the system) are treated miserably and are underpaid. In the United States, being a teacher has lost a lot of prestige since politicians conveniently use public education and teachers as punching bags.

Teachers are on the frontlines just like police officers and social workers. It is a tremendous responsibility, but the starting salaries are minimal and not up to par with the tremendous requirements, student loans, and testing fees that are required to become a fully credentialed teacher.

Student teachers have to pass tedious Teacher Performance Assessments (TPAs) and must pay hefty fees ($300) to the private companies that administer these tests. They also must pay for and pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) and the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) tests. Prospective teachers also have to pay and pass a U.S. Constitution related online test, pay for CPR certification, along with a slew of other miscellaneous fees.

The Multiple Subject and Single Subject Preliminary Credential Program Standards is now a two- to three-year teacher credential program that can be quite expensive. With all the requirements, many student teachers fall into debt, with some owing $50,000 or more.

These teacher preparation programs are too long, bureaucratic, expensive, and unaccommodating for older, working adults who have been in the labor force for decades and have full-time jobs to juggle while enrolled in the teacher credentialing program. It is easier for younger students already enrolled in a university to obtain a teaching credential, but they are liable to meet the same fate that every aspiring teacher faces, a seniority system in public school districts that doesn’t give new teachers a lot of opportunity to advance.

A highly experienced, motivated, and knowledgeable individual in his or her thirties or forties who manages to get through the credentialing can then face the disheartening fact that there are no job openings for a grade level or subject that she or he is expert in. The system should also not take advantage of free labor, as it does now, by requiring five months of full-time unpaid teaching by student teachers. How is someone supposed to pay rent or a mortgage if required to work for free for five months? What other potential career requires five months of free labor?

Many end up quitting or dropping out of the teacher credential program. Those who make it through will often be sent to some of the toughest schools, where new teachers are often treated like migrant workers. They work intensely with minimal pay as administrators micromanage their every move in the classroom and many new teachers face students who are disrespectful unmotivated and uninspired. No wonder so many burn out within the first or second year of teaching, even after having gone $30,000 to $50,000 in debt.

Let’s support Marc Litchman’s efforts, he is the founder of the nonprofit California Trust for Public Schools and the main proponent of the Teacher Fair Pay Act. We hope that labor unions and other pro education special interest groups will support the Teacher Fair Pay Act.

New and future teachers will thank us and it could help to retain and attract the kind of talented teachers so integral to our kids development.

What do you think?

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Randy Jurado Ertll

Randy Jurado Ertll

Randy Jurado Ertll, attended some of the toughest public schools within Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). He and his family moved dozens of times throughout Los Angeles. He attended Menlo Avenue Elementary School – which he loved dearly as a child – even though violence was an everyday occurrence in the surrounding community. He survived James A. Foshay Junior High School in the mid 1980’s. As a child, he escaped a rural Civil War in El Salvador, and while in Los Angeles, he escaped an urban Civil War (taking place in South Central Los Angeles) by being accepted into the A Better Chance-ABC scholarship program by going far way to study at John Marshall High School in Rochester, Minnesota. Hella cold. He returned to his community by applying and being accepted into Occidental College where he was indoctrinated to become a social justice activist, reader, writer, free thinker, and free, rebel, spirit.

3 thoughts on “Why Everyone Should Support the Teacher Fair Pay Act

  1. SDMom619

    Not a chance. Take the annual salary at entry level, divide by 185 days, and a new teacher makes about $29,00 per hour and gets excellent benefits. Starting pay is just that and meant for entry level staff. At the high end, a teacher makes about $65 per hour. That is good salary that comes with great health benefits, 14-15 holidays per year, is much less than the 226 day work year that is worked by classified staff (including highly educated staff in Tech, Business, Accounting, etc.). Additionally, with education credits, a teacher can increase their salary significantly and many have their tuition paid for by districts; a benefit not extended to others in the education field. I paid for my own degree.

    Not sympathetic and I come from a long line of teachers and work for a public school district.

    1. Dana

      You forgot to factor in the evenings, weekends, and long breaks spent grading assessments, making report cards/progress reports, meeting with parents, preparing lessons, learning newly adapted curriculum, etc. All of which is done in ADDITION to regular teaching hours. How attractive is that $29 pay an hour now? Not to forget that a portion of it goes to health care and MATERIALS for our own students. Teachers bending over backwards for their students should be paid FAIRLY and COMPETITIVELY.

      The point the article was making is that there is a DECREASE in new teachers with 100,000 teachers retiring, leaving California scrambling to fill teaching positions not to mention those IN UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES.

      – From a California teacher

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