COVID-19 makes increasing teacher salaries even more necessary


Mia Denu

Dan Freeman teaches his 4th period World History class about revolutions.

The teachers in the Tamalpais Unified High School District (TUHSD) work more than they are paid for. They deal with complaints from parents and accommodate students with many different backgrounds. Often, they spend time outside of their work hours grading tests, papers, and a variety of assignments. Teachers have always worked hard, but during COVID-19, they have labored even more than before, and their salaries should reflect the quality of their work.

Due to the unaffordability of Marin County, teachers in TUHSD need to be compensated more. Throughout the pandemic, they worked through challenges that they were not compensated for. Now, the district needs to encourage current teachers to continue with their jobs and direct the next generations to pursuing occupations as educators. The younger generations won’t enter the education field unless they can live off of the pay they will earn. The way to attract them is to raise teacher salaries.

Teachers can be negatively affected when receiving low salaries, especially with the cost of living in Marin County being high. We can’t expect teachers to live in Marin without providing them with the necessary wages to do so. To teach here, they should be able to live here as well.

Though teachers could live outside the county in a more affordable area, their work commutes would increase by an exponential amount. With sufficiently slow traffic, it could take over an hour to reach their school from another county.

Based on pay from 2018-2019, the average base pay of TUHSD teachers is $88,699 (Transparent California). While other employees at schools are eligible for overtime pay, teachers are not. Teachers worked overtime more than ever throughout COVID-19. 

Compared to the U.S. base number for cost of living of 100, the cost of living in Marin is 229.5, while it is 149.9 throughout California. Teachers need to be paid enough to afford to live in the area in which their school is located.

On a similar note, Marin’s average home price as of July 2021 was $1,441,720, as reported by Zillow, a homeowner could expect a monthly mortgage payment of around $5,000. Compared to an average monthly salary of around $7,392 (before tax), that doesn’t leave teachers with enough money for other expenses.

During the pandemic, many teachers took on more work and responsibilities than before. They put time and effort into learning how to use Zoom and making all their lesson plans accessible for students online. As a result of the new challenges, burnout among teachers became more common.

“The biggest thing I remember was just how much time we spent tracking down kids and calling parents,” said AWHS history teacher Dan Freeman. He needed to constantly check up on the progress of students so that they completed their work and didn’t fall behind.

Additionally, teachers had to keep students engaged through a screen, which took much more planning. They also took on the responsibility of ensuring that students completed their work while not being able to work in the classroom with them.

“It was definitely hard for teachers to create interactive lessons,” said AWHS sophomore Audrey Poster.

Once schools opened to hybrid learning, teachers faced new obstacles. They found themselves responsible for ensuring that students wore their masks, and 

“One challenge I faced as a teacher working in the hybrid model was the limitation of genuine personalization as I tried to engage my students. I see teaching as so much more than simply conveying information and teaching content,” said AWHS P.E. teacher Rene Ayala.To him, teaching is about building meaningful relationships with students while helping them grow to become successful adults.

In TUHSD, there were 23 available teaching jobs as of Sept. 9–more than ever before. This issue isn’t unique to the district, though. There were slots open for over 2,000 teaching positions throughout California on July 29 (Los Angeles Times). The shortage of teachers will not end until they receive the pay they deserve.

Although this will take time to resolve, it is absolutely necessary to create financial incentives for educators, so that teachers are appreciated and become more likely to carry on with their occupations. This will allow experienced teachers to continue educating students and even attract new generations to the profession.

With all the effort teachers put into the growth and education of students, it is unacceptable to deny them the wages they deserve. We need teachers, and they need compensation for the work they do.