By Adam Andrzejewski for RealClearInvestigations
Teachers in the Oakland Unified School District began their third strike in just over a year on May 4, demanding better pay. These teachers, however, are already well paid and the district has offered substantial raises. However, this strike prevents 34,000 students from attending classes just before the finals.
According to California Policy Centerstrikes are now becoming commonplace in the district, with Lakisha Young, founder and CEO of nonprofit parent group The Oakland Reach, recounting the San Francisco Chronicle“Whenever it’s time to negotiate, there’s always a strike.”
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While teachers are ostensibly striking for better salaries, the data suggests they are already highly paid. A California Policy Center analysis found that the average salary for a full-time teacher in this district is $79,257. When benefits are included, their total compensation averages out at $105,569.
According salary tables district, full-time teacher base salaries start at $63,286 and top out at $112,977, excluding benefits. The district has already offered 13 to 22 percent raises for teachers, but the union has refused and says the district is negotiating in bad faith.
The strike comes as students prepare for final exams and advanced level tests. A teacher admitted the moment was meant to have a strong negative impact on the students, to “send a big message”.
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Students in the district struggle with basic math and reading, especially black and brown students. The California Policy Center found that among black students, 19.8% meet state language standards and 10.7% meet math standards. Hispanic students also lag behind, with 24.8% meeting language standards and 14.5% meeting math standards.
Students should not be used as bargaining chips for better salaries, especially when teachers are already paid fairly. Unions must bargain in good faith without deliberately disrupting the education of vulnerable students at critical times.
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Syndicated with permission by RealClearWire.