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San Francisco Teachers, Union Say Affordability Crisis Hitting Hard

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Karoleen Feng of MEDA describes the findings of a survey of parents around the Mission at Buena Vista Horace Mann Thursday evening. (Laura Wenus/Mission Local)

Linda Perez, a teacher at Buena Vista Horace Mann elementary school, shares her home with nine people — only two are family members. Frank Lara teaches fourth grade at the same school and has crashed on friends’ couches or shared a bedroom to make ends meet, all while struggling to repay a mountain of student loan debt. Laura Rocha, who used to teach pre-K classes at another school, said she can earn more money cleaning houses or rolling burritos than she can as a teacher.

“I adore kids, but I can’t support myself and my daughter like this,” Rocha said.

Perez, Lara and Rocha gathered with some 30 other teachers and parents Thursday night at a panel discussion on San Francisco’s affordability crisis, organized by the United Educators of San Francisco, a teachers union.

Representatives from the union and teachers from Buena Vista stressed the importance of keeping teachers living in the communities they serve — a goal that has become increasingly difficult as rents have risen to an average of about $3,800 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. The starting salary for a full-time credentialed teacher is $50,000 a year — paraprofessionals average around $25,000, according to Matthew Hardy, the communications director for the union.

Earlier this year, the SFUSD stated that teachers earn an average salary of $86,000 a year in salary and health benefits. Hardy said many teachers aren’t full time, and they haven’t had a pay raise in five years (though teachers do get incremental experience-based raises over the years).

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