Measure G ensures that teachers receive the compensation they deserve
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.
I came to Davis for my education, and teaching in the public school system is what kept me here. As a teacher, and now as president of the Davis Teachers Association, it is clear that we need Measure G to ensure that public education continues to be foundational in Davis. UC Davis students may only spend a few years in the community or they choose to stay — either way, casting a vote in favor of Measure G is a way to support the community here and honor the teachers that helped you succeed and make it to college. Voting Yes on Measure G will provide an immediate pay increase to public school teachers in Davis.
I arrived at UC Davis as an undergrad in 2010 because it’s a fantastic, world-renowned public institution, nestled in a town that embraces education. During my time as an undergrad, I completed an internship at Harper Junior High, took every education class I could and eventually applied and was accepted to one of the best graduate teaching credential programs in the state: UC Davis. I want to create positive change in this world, so becoming a teacher was an easy decision. During graduate school, I was lucky enough to be a student teacher at Emerson Junior High in West Davis. Upon receiving my teaching credentials, I went to work here in Davis.
Choosing to become a teacher or school employee is not a decision to take lightly. It is profoundly rewarding to work with students and help them realize their potential, but the sad reality is that teachers make less than other professions that require similar education levels and effort. I’m sure that the student teachers and professors reading this know the peculiar challenges of creating lesson plans, grading work and standing in front of a class of students with the day’s lesson.
As many teachers are reaching retirement age, fewer college students are choosing teaching as a career path. In Davis, we expect about 25% of our public school teachers to retire in the next five years. Meanwhile, attracting new teachers is made even more difficult because Davis compensates educators 3% to 7% less than the regional average.
The compensation gap is a surprise to many. After all, doesn’t Davis pride itself on being a community that values education from pre-school to advanced degrees? The fact is that most public school funding comes from the state. The state’s policy is to provide additional funding to schools with more students living in poverty and speaking English as a second language. This is commendable because public education should provide equal opportunity to every child. But it leaves Davis public schools with less funding to pay teachers than surrounding communities.
I chose to stay in Davis after student teaching at Emerson, but the student teachers I now train are not making that choice, and the reason is compensation. It’s hard to ask young teachers, who often leave school with student debt, to stay here when they can make more at virtually every other school district in the region. Students, schools and new educators all benefit from the experience and stability of veteran teachers, but as they begin to retire, the void left by their absence must be filled. We have to attract new teachers and educators to continue to serve our students.
Measure G helps the Davis Joint Unified School District address these growing problems.
As an Aggie alum and local teacher, I encourage you to vote Yes for Measure G and support our students, teachers and community.
Written by: Victor Lagunes
Victor Lagunes is a UC Davis alum and president of the Davis Teachers Association.