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Consequences Of Low Teacher Pay

There is nothing more important for student success than a good teacher. That’s why we cringed at San Francisco Unified School District's new recruiting tagline: “No credential? No problem!”

For months, San Francisco struggled to fill 100 vacant positions by the first day of school. That stood at 60 as of Monday. It’s no wonder. Average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is $3,034 – more than two-thirds of a first-year teacher’s $54,000 salary. Even outside the city, in Daly City or Oakland, rents would still amount to nearly half a new teacher’s annual income.

On average, teachers in California are paid more than most other states in the country. But averages can be misleading. In many parts of the state, a teacher’s salary doesn’t make ends meet.

California students are 43rd in the nation in Math and 39th in English. Teacher salaries are not the only factor – not by a long shot. But San Francisco’s low-bar plea for personnel suggests that, until we start building the housing we need and get living costs down, we’ll have to pay up to get quality teachers in the classroom.

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