California bill would boost teacher salaries by 50% over 7 years

a teacher gives a student a fist-bump in a high school classroom
Teacher Lindsay Humphrey exchanges a fist bump with 10th grader William Lopez Rodas during a computer science class at Van Nuys’ Birmingham High School.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

State Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi has introduced a bill that would boost teacher and school staff salaries by 50% in the coming years, in an effort to close statewide staffing shortages.

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A California lawmaker this week introduced a bill that would raise salaries for teachers and other school staff by 50% by 2030, the latest legislative effort to tackle a worsening shortage of educators across the state.

The proposed measure, Assembly Bill 938, would create funding targets under the Local Control Funding Formula and would require school employers to report changes in salaries over the next seven years.

“We need to pay our teachers and essential school staff what they deserve,” Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), the bill’s author, said in a news release. “Schools across the state are facing a workforce shortage, with many teachers and school employees unable to afford to live in the communities they work in. Moreover, there is a growing wage gap between teachers and comparable college graduates in other fields.”

Muratsuchi, who chairs the Assembly Education Committee, said the teacher shortage had been exacerbated by a dwindling applicant pool, with fewer college students going into the teaching field. He said he hoped that paying educators “what they deserve” would prod “more young people to aspire to become educators.”

The pay boost would come as public schools around the state are confronted with what one teachers union official called an “unprecedented staffing crisis.”

“We need real solutions to keep educators and classified professionals in our schools and attract new and diverse talent to the field,” said Jeff Freitas, president of California Federation of Teachers, one of the state’s two major teacher unions, in a statement.

A statement from California Teachers Association President E. Toby Boyd said the potential funding increase would help address the staffing crunch, which “has a direct impact on student achievement.”

“Across the state, school districts continue to struggle to recruit and retain teachers in large part because they are not fairly compensated for the work, time, effort and emotional commitment they give their students each and every day,” the statement said.

Earlier this year, support staff at Los Angeles Unified — the country’s second-largest school district — walked out of classrooms on strike, joining workers of all industries in demanding a boost in wages and benefits to keep up with the rising cost of living in California.

Whether Muratsuchi’s bill will pass is another matter, given the state’s projected $22.5-billion budget deficit in the upcoming fiscal year. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has cited inflation, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, and volatility in the stock market as the major forces causing state revenues to drop well below projections from last summer, when a $100-billion surplus was anticipated for the current budget year. Newsom will issue a revised budget in May.

Muratsuchi briefly addressed the funding shortfall at a news conference announcing the proposed measure on Thursday.

“It’s clearly an issue that we need to address now. Of course, we’re very much aware of the realities of the budget, but the plan is, this is a seven-year plan,” he told reporters.

Muratsuchi’s office said teacher salaries here compare unfavorably with salaries for educators in countries such as Finland and Singapore, where teacher pay is “commensurate with other fields like engineering, law and business.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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