I have worked for SFUSD for ten years as a School Social Worker, THE ENTIRE TIME at Everett Middle School. I have seen the same problem every year…teachers leave. The majority of teachers do not quit due to being unhappy. Everett Middle School is a great place to work. Our administration is exceptional and teachers feel supported by them. Teachers at Everett love the kids and the entire staff gets along with each other. It is the same story you’ve heard before: teachers simply can’t afford to live here. They are sick of living with five roommates and working side jobs and teaching summer school IN ORDER TO MAKE ENDS MEET. The good news is THAT San Francisco is trying to address this problem. They have developed teacher housing loan programs, from which my family has benefited. Companies such as SalesForce are giving public schools money (and yes, how sad that we have to do this). Although I see these attempts as promising, it’s still not enough. Let’s keep in mind that teachers teach because they care about the public good and the future of our children and THE world. They are not paid nearly what they deserve, but they teach anyway. THIS argument is not about MAKING teachers wealthy. This is about a decent livable wage. In San Francisco, a livable wage IS MUCH HIGHER than the current median teacher salary of $68,000 a year (if we made this and lived in the middle of Kansas… I wouldn’t be complaining– but we don’t and we need more). If our SF teachers were compensated well, then our schools would be more stable and ultimately, our children would benefit. More good news: there is hope, but it depends on YOU! To the voters of San Francisco who came here to live in a progressive place, you can do something about it. Vote YES on Prop G. This is why:
For those of you who need a refresher, Prop G is a parcel tax. Homeowners will be taxed $300/year — except for those who are 65 and older. This parcel tax will NOT affect renters. Landlords must pay the cost. If it passes, all educators in the district including: school nurses, social workers, counselors, wellness coordinators, paraprofessionals and other non-classroom teachers will receive a 7% raise that will last for twenty years. This would make a HUGE difference in the life of San Francisco educators for all of the reasons stated above. JUST AN EXAMPLE: if a teacher today makes the median salary of $68,000 and Prop G passes, this teacher would make $72,760 for the following school year. This is a difference of $4,760 a year or $400 more per month. This modest increase MAY NOT SEEM LIKE MUCH, BUT IT IS A CAR PAYMENT, A DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT, GROCERIES FOR A FAMILY–IT is the least we can do for those who play such an important role in the development of our youth. For anyone who is a little bit skeptical… I’ve got you. Show them this:
Homeowners! The median price of a home in San Francisco is 1.6 million dollars. I know what you’re thinking…you cannot pay one more cent in property taxes. I feel you; I’m a homeowner too. But… yes you can. $300 dollars more a year in property taxes is less than what you would pay if you bought a small latte at Starbucks every day (you know you do that; don’t worry, I was educated by a public school teacher so I’ve done the math for you, and it’s $1,218/year) for that frothy beverage. I’m not saying you need to give up coffee (trust me, I love my morning jolt) I’m saying…If you can afford that extra, you can afford the $300. And be grateful that you’re paying $300 to teachers. Just for the record, if you are a household of four and you earn $80,000 or more a year, 24.9% of your tax dollars go to National Defense. 3.6% goes to Education and Job training. I’m not an economist, but that doesn’t seem right.
Okay, this one is for your next door neighbor, a homeowner, who sends her kid to a private school because they specialize in the arts. Are San Franciscans aware that only 17% of SF homeowners send their kids to public school? What if you told her that if she votes “yes” on Prog G, our public school teachers would actually get paid a decent wage and our district would have more money for programs like the arts, music and yoga–AND SHE COULD SAVE 30,000 DOLLARS A YEAR THAT SHE’S PAYING PER CHILD AT PRIVATE SCHOOL. How great would it be if we could change that 17% into a much higher percentage? We need you. Join us, you know you want to. If you’re not sure, come talk to our students at Everett… they’ll convince you that public school is where it’s at.
This next argument is for your uncle who is a Republican, but only for fiscal reasons. The vast majority of people caught up in the criminal justice system did not graduate from high school. According to the ACLU, most of the money you send to run the government operates jails and prisons filled with Black and Brown people who had substandard public school experiences because good teachers couldn’t afford to teach. Everyone knows that there is a clear link between lack of education and jail. What would happen if we paid teachers more and our schools were filled with excellent teachers who stayed committed to their students for years and got paid well for doing it? What if the start of this revolution only took $300 more from your uncle’s tax bill? I can’t imagine he’d say “no.”
Lastly, the techies! Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about you. I’ve heard you… you work 80 hour weeks too and you don’t get the summers off. The difference is (and I know you can google it but I’ll just tell you)…a median beginner tech salary is $106,000 annually. A beginning median salary for a credentialed teacher is $50,000 less than yours. So yes, we would love to travel around the world in the summer but we are here teaching your future kids (when you enter into your childbearing years, we know you will send your kids to public school). Thank you in advance and yes, your company probably helped fund our school.
So, throw us a bone… please vote yes on Proposition G… the city will be better because of it. Our children will benefit and YOU will feel good about yourself for helping the people who spend more time with your kids than you do, AND CARE ABOUT THEM DEEPLY…their teachers !!!!