Teachers undervalued, and need bigger raises

Bear Witness Editors, Editors

Yearbook and photo teacher Lisa Pimental. Science teacher Marie Pink.

Both were invaluable teachers loved by their students who have left Branham due in the last year due to rising living costs and a low salary.

In order to ensure that our valued teachers stay teaching at Branham and in the district, the district needs to give them the raise that they need in order to live here, the raise they’re asking for.

This past month teachers have been working without a contract due to negotiations that they have been having with the district over their raise. The district has proposed a two percent raise, while Campbell High School Teachers Association (CHSTA) is asking for a 4- to- 6-percent raise in order to keep up with the increased living costs of the Bay Area.

However, the suggested 2 percent is not even close to what they need to survive, and the district’s reasoning is not justifiable.

The district is claiming that they can only afford the 2 percent because they now have to pay more than double what they had to in years’ past to the teacher retirement fund, from 8.25 percent to 19.2 percent.

While the district says that they have no extra money to spare, the board is operating on a rainy day budget 6 percent of the general funding, but they technically only need three percent to be solvent. They claim that they need this as a “rainy day fund,” just as an extra cushion for when disaster strikes.

Disaster is already striking, however, because the district is losing valuable teachers at a rapid rate to places they can afford to live, with an added higher salary.

On average, the district loses 40 to 60 teachers a year, which composes around 10 to 15 percent of the teacher population, as seen through Pink and Pimental.

Not only does this affect the teachers themselves, it also affects the students because it leads to a lack of student-teacher connection, something that is vital to student growth.

For the teachers who do stay, instead of worrying about their teaching curriculum, they are forced to worry about paying their rent, and having to rush to their second jobs.

For example, social science teacher Brett Johanson runs an SAT Prep course after school, with social science teacher Tania Eaton for the money they need to pay for expenses.

The district also claims that the benefits that the teachers receive are enough to cover the gap for the asked four to six percent, because they are incredibly good, covering medical expenses and other necessities.

This is not sufficient though because teachers cannot live off of their health benefits. Medical coverage does not cover rent and rising costs of housing.

Thus, the district, to show the teachers that they’re valued and appreciated, and to keep teachers teaching in the district, the district needs to rise to the occasion and give the teachers the detrimental raise that they need to live and teach in the district.