The “Outstanding Teachers for All Oakland Students” tax, as the name implies, would raise the wages of the school system’s more than 2,000 teachers — but not its custodians, its secretaries, its teachers’ aides, or its attendance clerks.
Which, of course, raises the question of equity: For the school system to improve, shouldn’t all school employees benefit equally?
Most of the speakers at last night’s hearing — which drew a decent sized crowd for Aug. 4 — seemed to think so. But Noel Gallo, the only school board member who supports OUSD’s latest parcel tax initiative, made an intersesting counterpoint.
Gallo said the board and the district have long acknowledged the importance of improving teaching quality in Oakland. If it’s truly a priority, he argued, the district should throw its resources behind it — and not spread its money too thin.
The Oakland school district is “too poor to be cheap,” he said.
If the parcel tax measure passes, some $10 million a year will be spent on teachers’ salaries, while the rest would go to charter schools. If all of the new compensation funding went to the district’s roughly 220 first-year teachers, for example, their starting pay would go from under $40,000 to $48,000, Superintendent Roberta Mayor said at the meeting.
If distributed across the pay scale, the money would bump the starting teacher’s salary to about $42,400, Mayor said, according to initial calculations. That amounts to about a 7 percent raise.
Given the funding limitations, does it make sense to funnel the funding into teacher pay, or is it short-sighted to neglect other employees? Which strategy stands the best chance of improving the education system, as a whole?
Of course, these discussions are contingent on the measure passing — possibly, without the support of the school board or the teachers.
image from nemo_434’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons