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Paying public educators

Original post made on Sep 30, 2023

Tri-Valley teachers have said they are feeling the financial burdens of high cost-of-living in the Bay Area -- and that without appropriate compensation packages, they will either be forced to move districts or leave the industry.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 28, 2023, 1:39 PM

Comments (7)

Posted by Mike Arata
a resident of Danville
on Sep 30, 2023 at 4:50 pm

Mike Arata is a registered user.

Before readers become teary-eyed indulgent over local teacher salaries and benefits, they should undertake their own assessments of available salary and benefit data. An excellent source is Transparent California’s School District compilation ( Web Link ).

Districts there are organized by county — e.g. Alameda County, with links for Dublin Unified (latest = 2021), Livermore Valley Joint Unified (2022), Pleasanton Unified (2021) — and Contra Costa County, with compensation data there for San Ramon Valley Unified (2022 and earlier years). I’m most familiar with the last of these, SRVUSD.

Embarcadero Media’s recently unionized young reporters emphasized “Single-Status Benefits” in the bar graph above. That made me curious.

So I downloaded the SRVUSD 2022 compensation table, and selected “Total Pay” dollars (most to least) as the ordering criterion. I then ran a Benefit-cost average for the 2463 SRVUSD employees with pay alone exceeding $40,000 (realizing meanwhile that these direct dollar-pay numbers show only a partial-year effect of SRVUSD’s 8.5% increase and connected benefit boosts).

The table in the article above shows Single-Status Benefits ranging from $5,000 to $10,900 for the four school districts mentioned. The SRVUSD benefit-cost average for the tabulated 2463 employees with “Total Pay” (salary, overtime, and “other pay”) exceeding $40,000 was $30,904 (!) — including a number of employees being supplied zero benefits (presumably due to spousal benefits derived elsewhere).

Beyond all that, realize that benefits are provided 365 days and 52 weeks per year, though work years for SRVUSD personnel (with similar patterns in other districts) range from just 186 days (teachers) to 225 days (upper-level administrators). That contrasts with workaday employees (average Joes and Jills) in business and industry, typically with 240 work days per year. See Web Link .

Posted by H
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Oct 2, 2023 at 7:10 am

H is a registered user.

@Mike Arata,

It's notable that SRVUSD designates "Wacky Wednesday" as a half-day for teachers, ostensibly for "professional development." Yet, the varied scheduling of these half days across schools raises questions about the actual consistency of the professional development offered. On these days, teachers' hours often mirror those of students, adding to the questions. Past actions of SRVUSD suggest some ambiguities about the genuine purpose of such days. Moreover, SRVEA's implementation of a monthly "floating work day" — often resembling a day off — stands out when compared to typical work schedules in other professions. Many in our community adhere to traditional 9-5 work hours without frequent "half days" or extended breaks. SRVEA might ponder on providing clarity: is the preference for a more relaxed schedule or increased compensation? Striving for both might not align with the wider community's views. The recent initiatives by SRVEA, such as advocating for altered grading standards raise questions about SRVEA's leadership organization's leadership - who are they serving? SRVEA leadership seldom aligns its decisions with the community's expectations. Instead the main influencer of Ms Finco's decisions is extreme online narratives allies and trends of or political allies rather than facts and data that are grounded reality.

Posted by Mike Arata
a resident of Danville
on Oct 2, 2023 at 6:01 pm

Mike Arata is a registered user.

Per usual, H makes offers important assessments of SRVUSD policy and practice. The District’s actual “Instructional Calendar” ( Web Link ) shows just 180 student-contact days, INCLUDING at least 8 “minimum days” characterized as “Conference Days.”

As a chemistry/math teacher in the 70s and 80s, I pointed out to administrators the many other interruptions of the academic schedule — from photo days to pep rallies, etc., with many of these becoming minimum days themselves. But during those 20 years, I experienced accelerating go-along/get-along expedience on the part of superintendents, principals, and assistant principals, with a weakening of both academic and behavioral standards.

SRVUSD’s teacher union — the “San Ramon Valley Education Association” (SRVEA), an NEA and CTA chapter — effectively runs much of the show here. CTA illustrated its own radicalism in a 1984 booklet, “Guidelines for Academic Freedom.” There, CTA snarled its defiance of common American values: “Who dares take on religion, free enterprise, patriotism, and motherhood? We do — and we must!” See Web Link .

SRVEA has one committee chair for “Instruction and Professional Development.” Its ten other chair positions are for LGBTQ+ Issues, Membership, Grievance, Political Action, Racial and Social Justice, Social Media, Negotiations, Women’s Issues, Safety and Working Conditions, and Organizing.

SRVUSD’s “Racial and Social Justice” push has resulted in Supt. Malloy’s double-standard “Cal High Racist Incident” amplifying of a social media post falsely implicating the school’s Stunt Team ( Web Link ) and “Grading for Equity” (2022) Web Link ), called “Holistic Grading” when I was teaching, now euphemized as “Learning-Focused Assessment" or “Standards Based Grading.”

Posted by H
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Oct 3, 2023 at 10:45 am

H is a registered user.

The above article mentions Laura Finco as a staunch advocate for teacher rights, emphasizing struggles in an expensive housing market and the national teacher shortage. What the article doesn't explore in detail is $158,570 reported compensation for Ms. Finco in 2022 according to Transparent California Web Link despite her not actively teaching in a classroom. This raises serious questions about resource allocation and representation within the union, especially given the widespread financial burdens borne by classroom teachers.

While Finco speaks on the struggle to attract entry-level educators due to compensation inadequacy, it's crucial to scrutinize whether union leaders' salaries, especially when they do not teach, are congruent with the values and needs of the teachers they represent. It's hard to reconcile the image of a union leader being paid a six-figure salary while not teaching, with that of teachers juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet.

Furthermore, some assert that Finco opposed the best interests of students and played a role in sidelining educators reluctant to receive vaccinations. Notably, such a stance was subsequently rejected by the LAUSD which is now facing litigation over wrongful termination. This approach was viewed by some as having political motivations, seemingly using students' educational futures as leverage. While teachers' unions are paramount in safeguarding educators' rights, the decisions and actions of their leaders should always center on students.

The crux of the matter isn't about undermining the importance of unions or the hard work done by their leaders. Instead, it's about ensuring that every dollar allocated within the educational system reflects the primary mission: fostering the best possible learning environment for students. When union leaders' compensation and actions appear out of step with this mission, it's essential to ask tough questions and seek answers.

Posted by Mike Arata
a resident of Danville
on Oct 5, 2023 at 9:29 pm

Mike Arata is a registered user.

Readers may find SRVEA’s contract interesting: Web Link .

Pages 6-7 (7-8/218), enable “Association” (SRVEA union) indoctrination of new teachers during their orientation, with no administrator present.

P. 11: Instruction is to be “appropriate to the age and maturity of the pupils.” In practice, that has meant LGBTQ-themed read-alouds for even 4 and-5-year-olds in transition kindergarten, ranging to depraved pornography in high school libraries. (See Web Link and Web Link .)

PP. 45-59 specify extensive teacher-leave provisions, with unlimited accumulation of unused sick leave.

P. 55: SRVEA’s president gets full -time release. SRVEA representatives (at least one per school?) get 45 days of release annually. SRVEA reimburses SRVUSD only the cost of substitutes. Thereby, taxpayers fund union activism.

PP. 81-85: Extensive health, dental, vision, life-insurance, and retirement benefits are specified.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System supplies pensions as high as 2.4% x number of years employed x average annual compensation during highest-paid three years. Unused sick leave can be counted for extra work-year credit.

So again, teachers are compensated very well, given salaries paid for just 186 employment days per year, with generous full-year benefits attached.

And unfortunately, unionized modern educators in certain subject areas often concentrate on political and (a)moral brainwashing as much as — or more than — on cultivating beneficial knowledge and skills.

The solution? Competition, via genuine school choice — wherein education dollars follow students to schools they and their parents choose. As I wrote editorially when I was still teaching: “Educators should compete. Students and taxpayers would win.”

So would the best teachers, with merit pay.

Posted by H
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Oct 6, 2023 at 5:56 am

H is a registered user.

Is SRVEA President Laura Finco's demand to be released from teaching full-time while also complaining about teacher shortage hypocritical? Yes, yes it is. Why should anyone want to do the same job that Laura Finco refuses to do herself? There are other Union leaders at SRVUSD like the CSEA union leader seemingly enjoy their work and don't want to be released to do sit at home and do nothing all day like Ms. Finco. Interestingly enough, CSEA workers continued diligently working at schools during the shutdown trying to meet the absurd demands of CTA leaders like Ms. Finco who refused to work and held our children hostage to support their personal politics.

Why does SRVUSD pay Laura Finco to work against the best interests to the school, the parents and the students? It's time that SRVEA paid the salaries of its leaders that refuse to teach during this historic teacher shortage that Finco cites. Leadership that appears contradictory can affect the overall morale and perception of local teachers. I know I wouldn't want anything to do with leadership that talks all day but refuses to "walk the walk."

Posted by H
a resident of San Ramon Valley High School
on Oct 6, 2023 at 8:50 am

H is a registered user.

Apologies for the typos. I was trying to make a paragraph and the phone submitted before I could edit.

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