Why Bay Area teachers are protesting

By: Kaylee Flores, Editor-in-Chief

Many Bay Area teachers are taking it to the streets and protesting their current wages. Recently, teachers in Oakland went on strike in order to get a 12% raise instead of the 7% raise that was decided by the Oakland Unified School District.

Teacher raises are important. Some even go as far as to say that teachers don’t make a living wage, especially in the Bay Area, because the average teacher salary isn’t equivalent to the ever-rising cost of living, where some teachers have to resort to taking part time jobs in order to simply pay their rent.

“While the cost of living since the last contract was negotiated had increased by 3.7%, the district had only proposed a 2% cost of living increase. This was after teachers had previously forgone salary increases to accommodate the financial hardships experienced by the district brought on by the financial crisis of 2008. Despite teachers making sacrifices in the past, and despite having a budget surplus, CUHSD was not prepared to even meet the increases in cost of living. Ultimately, the teachers of CUHSD decided not to strike, and to accept a 3% pay raise, which still does not meet the increase in the cost of living,” said Aaron Shuler, a statistics teacher at Leigh.

But that’s not all the teachers are going on strike for. Many wish for the schools to be better for the students like decreasing the insanely large class sizes, adding more programs, and hiring much needed help such as more counselors and nurses.

One district in San Ramon might have avoided a teacher strike for now, but the idea of going on strike is still lingering in the district. The teachers from the San Ramon Valley Unified School District had a 13 hour discussion at the district offices about the changes they’d like to see happen. Despite that long discussion, no deal was reached in the end since not everything was resolved between the teachers and the district. It was found that 98% of the teachers in the San Ramon agreed that they wish to strike.

“If teachers were to go on strike in our district, I feel that there would be a few main reasons. The first would be salary. As I said before, it’s hard to find affordable housing in the Bay Area. Many teachers commute long distances just to get to work, as far as Santa Cruz, Redwood City, Gilroy, etc…The second issue that might prompt a strike would be class sizes. It is extremely hard to meet the educational needs of 35 students in a single classroom. Multiply that by 5 classes, and many teachers have upwards of 160 or 170 students that they have to keep track of…Finally, teachers are required to participate in other activities that extend beyond the regular duties of lesson planning, teaching grading, etc. These can be things like supervising clubs, chaperoning dances or sports games, etc. It’s not that these things are onerous – in fact they can be quite enjoyable – but they take time; time that could be spent on our top priority: serving student’s academic needs,” said Shuler.

The housing crisis and the low teacher salary is still an evident issue in the Bay Area. If a deal isn’t reached then we might see some more teacher strikes in the near future.