Joy Harrison instructs her second graders at Carl B. Munck Elementary School in Oakland on Aug. 11, 2021. Photo by Santiago Mejia, San Francisco Chronicle

(CALMATTERS) – You may have heard about a bill to give California teachers a 50% raise over the next seven years. As sometimes happens in the Legislature though, it has been pulled back dramatically. 

In April, Assembly Education Chairperson Al Muratsuchi, a Democrat from Torrance, promoted his bill to increase funding for schools with high-needs students by 50% by 2030-31 — and tie that money directly towards raising school employee and teacher salaries.

But as EdSource reports, critics argued that it would undermine teacher union negotiations and wrestle funding control out of the hands of local districts. 

To address these concerns, Muratsuchi made a significant concession: Instead of raising salaries by a specific percentage, the additional money for the awkwardly-named Local Control Funding Formula would be used with the intent to close the pay gap between teachers and other similarly skilled workers. (Teachers earned 23.5% less than their comparably educated peers nationwide, though that gap shrinks to 17.6% in California.)

  • Muratsuchi: “The ultimate goal is to address the crisis of a shortage of school employees by closing the wage gap — rather than focus on an arbitrary number of 50%, not only for teachers but for food service workers, who can make more at McDonald’s.”

The California Federation of Teachers, which sponsored the legislation, said they endorsed the change since it keeps the original goal of raising salaries. The larger California Teachers Association also backs the bill.

But even without this statewide measure, some teacher unions have recently negotiated big raises. On Monday, Oakland teachers ended their week-long strike as they secured a 15.5% wage increase. Earlier this month, teachers in Los Angeles approved a contract to boost their salaries by 21% over three years.

A reminder: California ranks third highest in average teacher salary, according to the National Education Association. In 2021-22, the average salary of a California public school teacher was about $88,000, compared to the national average of nearly $67,000.