Teachers should earn a higher salary. Doing a difficult job, such as attempting to properly educate young adults, demands a lot of patience and hard work. Teaching is not simple, there are kids who disrupt ongoing classes, don’t do their work and don’t pay attention in class. This makes it difficult to teach everything students need to know.
The future of our nation primarily depends on teachers to teach the next generation of Americans. Teachers are the most important public attendants there are in this country because they are teaching the next generations of this nation. Their contribution to helping students become the next leaders of this community and country is deeply unappreciated by the government and the school districts. In the Pajaro Valley Unified District (PVUSD) teachers are underpaid and have the lowest salary compared to other districts in the Monterey County and the Bay Area districts.
As the people in charge of teaching the future generations of this community, the teachers need to be paid more than what they get. Many teachers go into the teaching profession because they like working with students and being mentors for them, but they should also be rewarded for the roles they play in students’ lives. Sometimes teachers are not just the instructors but they are the role models, mentors and surrogate parents to students who need someone that cares for them. Teachers are not just in front of a class lecturing, but extend their roles in order to make a student’s educational experience exceptional. In order to keep our astounding teachers that go beyond their teacher role, PVUSD needs to raise its wages, because Santa Cruz County is expensive to live in. According to the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers, teachers total salary has only increased 11 percent in the past 11 years while the rent in the Santa Cruz County in just 2017 alone increased by 14 percent. Educators are forced to leave in order to make a decent living wage for themselves and their families. Last school year two of the most caring and hardworking teachers had to leave Watsonville High School for a better paying district in Northern California because they wanted to start a family and buy their own home, something they can’t do in Santa Cruz County.
Additionally, educators don’t receive extra pay for staying after school or hosting clubs in their classes during their breaks. Everything they do extra is never paid, they do it out of the kindness and because they care about their students. They work 10-plus hours a day and work doesn’t end at school. They work from home, adding more unpaid hours. They plan lectures, grade papers, extra tutoring, and spending extra hours in their classroom. With all the contributions teachers provide for their students and their community, they should be appreciated accordingly.
Uncredentialed teachers are an ongoing problem throughout the community and district. In our sophomore year at Watsonville High School, we did not have a permanent geometry teacher. We suffered through substitute after substitute until halfway through the second semester when we finally had a permanent teacher. This teacher did not know how to give engaging lectures, did not know how to teach groups larger than five students, as this teacher previously taught at a private school where they mainly taught students one on one and is overall inefficient in teaching future generations. This impacts the community because the teachers that made an impact on students are the ones leaving and it brings in uncredentialed teachers. This is an important issue because students deserve high-quality teachers to better their education.
In order for teacher wages to increase, the belief that teachers need an increase has to start from the leadership of the district. It needs to start from the board of trustees and Superintendent Michelle Rodriguez needs to acknowledge that teachers need a raise. Her inability to increasing teacher wages hurts the students and teachers she “cares” for. As Superintendent of the District, she has tried to avoid the problem by trying to deflect it with other good qualities the district offers such as the benefits they provide for teachers. She has blinded herself into believing that the benefits teachers get equal their wage. If she is not willing to hear the teachers’ struggles and frustrations then it’s time for new leadership in the district, because for many years teachers have been loud and clear that the wages they earn are not enough. Mrs. Rodriguez continues to say that PVUSD is one of the top paying districts for teachers, yet teachers that have been in the district for six years and are classified under class IV (B.A. plus 60 Semester Units) make $55,719 while teachers that are classified the same in the Carmel Unified School District make $89,124. Carmel District teachers make $33,405 more than teachers in PVUSD. Mrs. Rodriguez needs to better handle teachers’ pay because the district has enough money to increase wages.
This vital issue regarding future leaders involves the most influential and impactful professionals. Their wages do not reflect their accomplishments. This results in uncredentialed teachers, unmotivated teachers and low retention rates. The effect of this is unprepared and unmotivated students, and a huge deficit in student knowledge and performance. Having a consistent teacher/mentor results in students who are better prepared for life outside of high school and into adulthood.
Authors Anahi Martinez-Lobato & Larissa Yasin-Espinoza are students at Watsonville High School.