An Open Letter to School Board Members

Taylor Talcott, Assistant Editor

Dear Board Members,

“Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops” (Henry Brooks Adams).  If the future of our country depends upon the younger generation and their ideas, then it must also rest upon the shoulders of our teachers.  Teachers not only exist to teach curriculum; they serve the students by broadening their minds, making them approach problems from others’ perspectives, and teaching them how to think critically about the world around them.  The average United States student spends 22% of their waking hours in school every year. Therefore, teachers play an integral role in child development outside the family unit, and the quality of education we receive directly impacts our future.  Teaching is already one of the most critically underpaid professions. Despite the time they put in outside their working hours, the patience they employ teaching our children, and the lasting impact they have, their pay is mediocre. This in itself is a crime, yet, somehow, within our district, we have managed to perpetuate and aggravate this injustice further.  

Analy teachers make $12,070 less than the average Californian teacher as well as $18,650 behind the state average for high school teachers.  Teachers do not choose their profession for the money or the gratitude but rather because of their passion, yet they still need money to survive and cover basic costs.  Sonoma County is not an affordable place to live, especially not for teachers. Only .5% of homes are reasonably priced within the reach of teachers, a burden only intensified by our recent housing crisis, but teachers make up much more than that percentage of our population, meaning many cannot afford to live here.   It is a basic right, not a luxurious privilege, to be able to work and reside in the same area. With many teachers having families and other commitments, it is not practical nor just for them to have to commute long distances to school. Despite their continued acts of selflessness and dedication that might liken them to angels, teachers are people too, and they need to make a livable wage.  Otherwise, we condemn our teachers to working multiple jobs or looking for employment outside our district. This is not only a detriment to the teachers themselves but also to our schools.

When teachers have to work multiple jobs just to pay rent, it takes their attention away from the curriculum and allows them less time to give feedback to students; essentially, it fractures their time and reduces the quality of their work.  Students deserve the highest quality of education possible, and this starts with paying teachers enough that they can give their full attention to their work. When students receive thorough educations, they not only go on to do more productive things in life, but they also perform much better on the very state-wide testing on which our funding depends.  With startling low salaries and minimal benefits, there is little incentive for our acclaimed teachers to remain at our school. Health care and basic benefits should not be services that teachers need to bargain for; it is unreasonable to expect that teachers can survive on their current salaries as well as pay out of pocket for basic necessities traditionally supplied by employers.  The less we pay our teachers and the fewer benefits they receive, the more quality of education will suffer. Our enrollment is already declining at a concerning rate, but the restriction of the most valuable resource at these schools will only cause these numbers to drop even more. Teachers are the pillars of any school, especially ours; without them and their dedication, there would be no point in attending.  As a student at Analy for the last four years, I can attest that our teachers are by far the shining point of our school and that they have shaped me into who I am today. Teachers deserve the world, but they are given pennies instead.

The budget is tight, yes, but out of all the things we could cut, we cannot scrimp on teacher’s compensation.  The fact that our district refuses to pay the average salary in an already underpaid profession projects an extremely bad public image.  Teachers make the institution, yet their salaries and benefits are unlivable in this area. We are essentially driving away the only thing that works in our educational system.  Consigning teachers to leaving or working multiple jobs hurts them, the schools themselves, and the students. To be a teacher is to be dedicated, kind, patient, insightful, and impassioned.  They do what they do for love our students, but as hard-working citizens and human beings, they must be allowed livable salaries or our district will face the consequences.

As a student who has reaped the benefits of our excellent teachers, I implore you: find the cuts elsewhere.  



Taylor Talcott