Wendy Alexander/Madera Tribune File Photo
Teachers protest outside the Madera County Office of Education building during a Madera Unified School District conference.
Rumor has it that Madera’s teachers and its school board are on the verge of settling their labor-negotiation differences. While neither the teachers’ union nor the administration are saying much publicly, the word on the street is that they are about to reach an agreement on the current contract.
If that’s the case, and I sure hope it is, that means all this talk about a teacher strike in Madera will go away for a while. We don’t want one. Just ask the folks in Oklahoma, Los Angeles, and Oakland what it is like for teachers to walk off the job.
Speaking of the Oakland strike, that’s the one that interests me the most because if any group of teachers had a reason to go on strike, Oakland’s teachers did. Look at that Bay Area metropolis, with its median home price at $758,800 and a cost of living that is more than twice the average in the United States.
Now look at the teacher salaries in Oakland. That school district’s highest-paid teacher before the strike made $83,723 a year, and it took that educator 30 years to get there — not to mention the required 90 college units beyond the bachelor’s degree.
Compare that with Madera’s median home cost of $230,100, and one has to wonder why those Oakland teachers didn’t just pack up and come here. Using 100 as the index for the average cost of living in the United States, Oakland’s cost of living index is 201.2. Madera’s, on the other hand is 106.7.
Wait a minute, let’s go back to that top salary on the Oakland pay scale before the strike — $83,723. Now let’s go to Madera. Our top teacher makes $85,899, and one can get there in only 14 years as compared with the 30 years it took the Oakland teacher to reach the top.
And that doesn’t count the extra $1,000 MUSD pays for a master’s degree or the $1,500 for a doctorate. Madera Unified also pays extra for longevity — $1,750 at the 15th year and incrementally up to an additional $6,250 for 25 years of service.
Is this possible? Was Madera Unified actually paying its teachers more than Oakland was paying theirs? Tell you what — let’s take a look at the middle, at two teachers who have a bachelor’s degree, a credential, and 30 college units beyond their degrees.
In year one, the Oakland teacher was making $46,946. The Madera teacher was making $48,404, and every year thereafter the difference increased. By the 5th year, the Madera teacher had climbed to $55,867 while the Oakland teacher had reached $52,546. In year 10, the Madera teacher was earning $66,835, and the Oakland teacher was making $61,449.
Well, enough said about the middle. Let’s go to the top salaries. In Madera it takes 75 college units beyond the bachelor’s degree to move over to that column, while in Oakland it took 90 units. By the same token, Madera teachers reach the top of the pay scale in 14 years. At that point, the Madera teacher is earning $85,899 and the Oakland teacher was making $78,374.
Let’s just go to the bottom line — the top number on the salary schedule. In Madera that figure is $85,899 after 14 years and 75 additional college units. In Oakland it is $83,723, but that is only after 30 years service and 90 more college units. Add to that the adjustments that come with advanced degrees and longevity, and the top teacher in Madera can make $96,552 annually.
Could that be correct? Is it really possible for a teacher in Madera to earn $96,552 per year? Well, good for them — they deserve it.
And good for Oakland; it appears that things are going in a different direction for its teachers now. Perhaps they won’t have to consider moving to Madera for more money and a lower cost of living after all.