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Teacher Appreciation Week a time to reflect on support for educators

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In light of a national teacher shortage, Teacher Appreciation Week is an opportunity to consider what more can be done to support San Francisco educators. (Courtesy photo)

Teachers are living proof of the significant difference one person can make in the lives of many.  That’s why we are thrilled to be celebrating national Teacher Appreciation Week. From parents and students to the mayor and the S.F. Giants, our community is showing their appreciation for the dedicated educators who help our young people grow and learn. 

This week, I want to invite you to reflect on the teachers who have helped you, and the young people you know, break through barriers and develop into a thoughtful and engaged lifelong learner.  I encourage you to reach out to a former teacher or, if you have children, someone your child may have as a teacher, and let them know you appreciate them.

It’s no secret teaching can be both incredibly rewarding and tremendously challenging. Now, especially in light of the national teacher shortage and recent news of teachers across the nation are struggling to keep their footing in the middle class, Teacher Appreciation Week is also a chance for us to reflect on what more we can do to support our educators right here in San Francisco.

Simply put, teacher pay has not kept up with the rising cost of living in our city.  State funding makes up the majority of our operating budget and our district receives the same base funding allocation from the state as any other district, even though the cost of living in the Bay Area far exceeds the cost of living in most other California towns and cities.  This means we can’t raise teacher salaries without new revenue.

An annual survey conducted by the San Francisco Unified School District recently revealed that 64 percent of teachers spend more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.  Of those teachers, 14.7 percent spend more than 50 percent of their income toward rent. Around 70 percent of the teachers surveyed said they struggled from “some form of economic anxiety.”

This June, San Francisco voters have a chance to help make our 3,600 teachers and 56,000 students’ lives better with Proposition G — The Living Wage for Educators Act.  If approved by voters, Prop G would generate $50 million annually through a $298 per year parcel tax to help retain and recruit quality educators. 

The measure could help move San Francisco teacher pay to the top quartile in the Bay Area as soon as next year — making SFUSD teachers some of the best paid teachers in all urban school districts across the state.

Great teachers are at the center of our young people’s future, which is arguably the foundation of our city’s future.  We must work together to ensure our schools have the resources needed to attract, support and retain our talented educators.  I hope you’ll join me in celebrating our teachers this week.

WAYS TO APPRECIATE TEACHERS

Vote in local, state and federal elections

To check the status of your voter registration, register to vote, or update your information for the June 5th, 2018 Primary Election, you can visit the San Francisco Department of Elections website: http://sfgov.org/elections/registration.

Write a note

Whether it’s a small note, email, text or nominating teachers for more formal recognition such as an SFUSD RAVE or the mayor’s Teacher of the Month award, taking a few minutes to express your gratitude can make someone’s day. Over and over again I hear from teachers that feeling valued and respected for the contributions they make is one of the job’s greatest rewards.

Contribute funding to an educator-driven project

Teachers have innovative ideas that can transform their students’ learning. The San Francisco Education Fund awards grants to teachers and many educators raise money for specific projects using websites like DonorsChoose.

Vincent Matthews is superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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