News

Palo Alto Unified teachers facing 'very serious housing crisis'

Teachers say they are being priced out of the local market

A group of five longtime Palo Alto Unified elementary and high school teachers spoke poignantly to the school board during an open forum on Tuesday night about the personal toll that the lack of affordable housing in the Palo Alto area is taking on them.

Tara Hunt, a third-grade teacher at Walter Hays Elementary School who has taught in the district for 10 years, said she has a two-hour commute each way to and from the house she rents in Santa Cruz. Her day starts at 4:45 a.m., and more than two-third of her paycheck goes toward rent, she said. By the time the weekend rolls around, she's too exhausted to head back to Palo Alto for school events or activities.

Other teachers said the same: The farther away they live from Palo Alto, the longer the commute and the harder it is to stay after school to collaborate with other teachers, to help students or attend events.

"I can't be a part of our community," Hunt said. "It feels really disconnected."

Corey Potter, a kindergarten teacher at Hoover Elementary School, said her landlord raised the rent on the one-bedroom apartment she shares with her husband by $850 this month — almost a 50 percent increase, she said.

"He told us that he could easily rent it to someone from Facebook or Google for $3,400. While this may have been an exaggerated threat, it's not far off," Potter added. "One need only to browse Craigslist to see how much apartments are going for these days."

"Many of us are facing a very serious housing crisis," she said. "It won't be long before we can no longer afford to work here."

Gunn High School teacher Jordan Wells said her rent has gone up by 10 percent every five months over the last three years. Another longtime Gunn teacher, Tarn Wilson, said she has steadily moved farther away from the district — from Mountain View to Sunnyvale to San Jose — as her rent became unaffordable.

Some of the teachers who spoke pointed to the booming tech industry as the culprit for rising housing prices in the area. Helen Carnes, who has taught and lived in Palo Alto for more than 20 years, said she has moved many times while weathering several large tech booms, but "it's only in the past year that it is becoming impossible to find affordable rentals in the area."

"I've had to sacrifice a lot to stay in Palo Alto, to raise my children in Palo Alto, to work in Palo Alto and I've considered myself lucky and I'm very happy here," she said. However, "the current situation is making it impossible," she said.

They also expressed concern that Palo Alto is no longer offering as competitive salaries compared to neighboring school districts. Wells said she recently checked the salaries for a Mountain View Los Altos School District school she was considering working at when she first started her career a decade ago. She said if she was teaching at that school today, she would be making $19,000 more per year, and some of her more experienced colleagues, up to $35,000 more each year.

"We are quickly being priced out," Wells said.

Wilson, who is also a Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) coach, said not one in a group of new teachers she's working with lives closer than an hour away. One of those teachers told Wilson she wants to pursue a master's program, but isn't sure she can afford it. The teacher also told Wilson she cuts coupons so she can spend less on groceries.

"They're really struggling," Wilson said.

The average teacher/staff salary in Palo Alto Unified for the 2014-15 school year was $95,811, according to CALmatters. In Mountain View-Los Altos, average pay in the same year was $113,792, according to CALmatters.

According to Transparent California, an online database of California public employee salaries and pensions, searchable by name and job title, the average salary in 2014 of four of the teachers who spoke Tuesday night (Wilson's salary was not listed) is $103,033, not including benefits. With benefits, it's $128,276.

The most recent Palo Alto teachers' union contract, adopted last June, included a 4 1/2 percent increase to the 2013-14 certificated salary schedule, retroactive to July 1, 2014, and a 1/2 percent one-time "off schedule" increase. The salary increase is negotiated every year, so new contract negotiations currently underway will determine pay levels for this school year. Associate Superintendent for Human Resources Scott Bowers told the Weekly a salary increase is "likely" this year.

The lowest "step" in the district's 2014-15 teacher salary schedule is $57,563 and the highest offered is $116,234.

"The PAUSD website states, 'the high level of professionalism among teachers in the district is the key to student success,' and our district prides itself on offering 'some of the highest teacher salaries in the Bay Area,'" Potter said. "While our salaries are impressive, they are not as good as they once were, and they are slipping compared to other demographically comparable districts."

"We want to be a part of our school and this community," she added. "It is growing ever harder."

Since the teachers spoke during the open forum, a time for the public to speak to non-agendized topics, the school board could not respond to their comments.

Comments

40 people like this
Posted by semi-sympathetic
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2016 at 12:51 pm

1. Join the rest of us.
2. Many of us haven't spent our entire lives or careers living in Palo Alto.
3. Through personal knowledge and news reports we DO know some Palo Alto teachers live in this city. Example: the PALY teacher who recently passed away at his Palo Alto home (which was reported in multiple news media).
4. The time to buy in is during a downturn. One will occur at some point. This is how some of us from out of state were able to get in around here.
5. Perqs are valuable: PAUSD teachers can have their children attend Palo Alto schools without paying the horrific property taxes (in cases where they reside in Mountain View or something).
The "booming tech industry" affects a whole bunch of folks, not just the teachers.


47 people like this
Posted by out of state teacher
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:19 pm

As someone who recently obtained a teaching degree out of state and moved to this community for her spouse's education, I highly sympathize with these teachers. I no longer work in education, but one of the most important aspects of being able to live in your community is to be able to vote in that community--something that many new teachers do not consider.

If you can't afford to live in the community in which you teach, your voice is all but silenced when it comes time to elect your school board and community leadership who will be making decisions that affect all elements of your working conditions and pay. It is a disservice to the community's children and their families not to be able to extend the opportunity to have their public school teachers live in that same community.


27 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:34 pm

If it's about distance from work and needing to find lower rent then East Palo Alto might offer these teachers a better option.


11 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm

Why not increase their salaries to where they can buy the absolute cheapest homes on the market in Palo Alto... somewhere in the $200-250k range?


23 people like this
Posted by Matt
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:45 pm

I second resident's comments, why not move to East Palo Alto? Prices are much more affordable, and many PAUSD students & their families live there. By living there, you would be residing in the greater PAUSD community.


21 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:50 pm

semi-sympathetic -
Kenyon Scott started teaching at Paly in 1985. Houses were barely six figures at that time. Houses didn't reach half a million until around 1996. Even in a downturn of PA real estate, it's still going to cost at least $1.5 million and even a $116,000 teaching salary cannot afford that.

I feel bad for these teachers, but they are still earning a higher salary than elsewhere and are not forced to stay. They also don't have to deal with behavior issues of students. May people commute from the East Bay and earn far less pay. They shouldn't, however, be allowed to ditch right after the bell rings at 3:25 due to traffic congestion, which many do. They should still serve the students' needs. They are fortunate to be able to earn six-figures.


85 people like this
Posted by "rest of us"
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Teachers aren't like the "rest of us." The rest of us more or less get to clock out at some point and go home and not think about work. Our contributions to society aren't judged by whether or not we have turned other human beings into kind, productive members of society. I'm not a teacher, but having been a student, I know that that's not true of teachers. When I was young I had teachers who spent countless hours with me - be it as a coach, club leader, or just helping me understand certain concepts. And if I had a personal issue, a lot of them made time to help me - all during non-school hours. We need and want teachers to be another person our kids can trust in their lives, not just a lecturer for 45 minutes of the day. We want our students to grow fantastic relationships with their teachers and they can't just do that during work hours and they don't get paid outside their work hours. To expect teachers to go above and beyond in hours that aren't working hours and on top of it to drive back and forth 4 hours a day is an insane expectation and it's our students who end up suffering, not just the teachers. Even with the highest salary, that's not enough to buy anything in the Bay Area. Even EPA has a median house price of $620k - how do you make a down payment on that when half your after tax money or more goes to rent? And for the person who thinks it's a big perq for them to send their kids to PA schools- what if they don't have kids?? With half or more of your salary going to rent, how can these people afford kids?? They'd be paying as much or more per hour of daycare as what they earn themselves.

Frankly, I'm really sick of the "work your way up to living in PA like I did" schtick. Housing prices have gone up 386% since 1985 while wages have gone up a mere 11% (all numbers inflation adjusted). Student debt has gone through the roof, too. These same teachers are on average coming out of school with 40k in debt - way way higher than what was happening 20 years ago. Please stop pretending like it hasn't gotten monumentally harder to live in PA and please stop pretending like we have no control over that - it's gotten expensive because we build barely any housing but we keep creating jobs here.


64 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:37 pm

"rest of us" writes, "The rest of us more or less get to clock out at some point and go home and not think about work." I write software and am on-call 24/7 365 and never get to "clock out" - ever. I suspect many Palo Altoians do the same. Teachers get all summer off - OFF!


55 people like this
Posted by Reality check
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:38 pm

We learned yesterday that Gunn teachers are still not using Schoology even though they agreed to it in their contract. PAEA, how about complying with your current agreement rather than orchestrating displays for the school board?


56 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:38 pm

"rest of us" -

Those who are paying the bulk of the mortgage for a million dollar+ home here are not punching the time clock, going home and relaxing with a beer and TV, forgetting about work, I guarantee it. In fact, many of them are commuting long drives too, just like the teachers.


54 people like this
Posted by Cry Poor?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Most people I know who have a home bought their starter home when both husband and wife were working. And it wasn't in Palo Alto either. I worked 14 hr days, every month of the year at the time. My wife worked an had a 1-hr commute. We were not right out of college either.

And we had to borrow our 401k. Don't forget pensions the teachers negotiated for!!

That's just the reality of living in Silicon Valley.

So let's see... These teachers are earning 100k each, a couple would earn $200k . Let's not forget summer work - 2 people for 2 months @$15/hr adds $10k

Okay, then affordability is $922k

Web Link

Which will buy a nice starter home in Fremont, with a 30 minute commute. Voila!

You can get a brand new condo for that 3br, 2000sf. Nice.

And they don't even touch their pension, and they have a nicer starter home than I did, and they are surely not working 14 hr days.

What's the issue again?

Oh. We passed measure A, so they want my money...

Surprise.


55 people like this
Posted by So no
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:46 pm

I don't feel sorry for them. The elected a profession that pays less well than some others. Presumably that was not a surprise. Still they are well paid and have benefits too. Why not worry about whether other middle class workers can live here? Why not janitors and short order cooks? They make less and don't have fat taxpayer funded benefits and pensions. I would be more sympathetic if we didn't hav teachers being arrested and fired for molesting kids while other teachers and admins look the other way and fail to intervene. Or if they weren't bullying children. Or if they were using schoology (Elena why not report on the fact that only 75% of Gunn teachers are complying with their contracts).

Bottom line: you're paid well for your job and the fact that you can't afford to live in the most expensive place on the planet is not my problem. I might feel differently if you did better at your job but you don't, so no.


53 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 2:46 pm

It isn't just teachers who are in this position. Amongst my friends and acquaintances I am hearing of people who are City workers, healthcare workers (not medical), and various support staff and service workers, all well educated professional people who are finding it difficult to rent in the area.

I have some sympathy for teachers, but no more than other professionals who find it difficult to live here. We are pricing out the people we need to support all our high tech workers. I feel sure one day soon it will be impossible to hire someone for a non-tech position because none of the possible candidates will be able to afford to live here so will choose to work elsewhere even if it means leaving extended family behind in the Bay Area.


29 people like this
Posted by So no
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 27, 2016 at 3:03 pm

I'd be happy to double their pay in exchange for eliminating tenure. Who among the teachers would make that trade? Basically none of them because they are trading lower salaries for tenure and job security. They are already being highly compensated when we consider the present value of job security. They have permanent jobs at a lower but still good pay as opposed to the rest of the wprld of at will employment. Please agree to work as at will employees and PAUSD and every other school will double the pay for teachers on the spot. Otherwise stop it.

Also "poignantly"? Syrian refugees drowning is poignant. Dreamers facing deportation is poignant. Dogs in the pound are poignant. Here I'll fix it for you:

...teachers, who are among the highest paid in the state, made an appeal to the boards sympathy...

I'm not sure about the board but it's clear they won so bodies sympathy anyway.


23 people like this
Posted by Cry poor?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Some basic market economics : Palo Alto population 66k.

People working in Palo Alto 99k.

Not everyone who works here can live here. We have more workers than homes. Sorry. Reality bites.

And all the giveaways of my tax money won't change those hard facts. Somebody has to commute.

I hear Fremont is nice.


25 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Jan 27, 2016 at 3:31 pm

Clearly there are too many jobs in Palo Alto. How do we reduce the number of jobs when all I see is laundromats turning into office space? What's going to disappear next? 7-11?


65 people like this
Posted by Local parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Wow, I am shocked by these comments. Teachers are a vital part of our community and deserve our respect. Of course most of us in this area are working extremely intense hours and not "punching the clock". But why are we working so hard? Personally, it is mainly so I can provide my children with a diverse, educated community where they can learn and thrive. The property values in Palo Alto are so high compared to our neighboring towns, at least partially, because of our stellar schools. I would think that Palo Alto, of all places, would value education and those that dedicate their lives to educating our children. We should be finding ways to entice our teachers to be part of our community not criticizing them for wanting to have a stronger footprint here.


42 people like this
Posted by Cry poor?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Pfft. I see non compliance everywhere; very few if any follow the homework policy, and are schools are the fodder of national journalism for high stress.

And while there are some very good teachers, the majority have under delivered - and mostly on the backs of student labor.

Maybe if I were seriously impressed this might be a different conversation. But I don't screw up my job for years, piss off my customers, then cry poor to my boss! He would laugh me out of the room.

They should work on fixing their worst teachers first...


40 people like this
Posted by Gopal
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Kind of disappointing to read some of these comments.

Yes, the housing crisis affects everyone in the Bay Area, not just Palo Altans, but the school district is basically the shining jewel of the city.

Without Palo Alto's schools and their reputation, housing prices would probably take a bit of hit, don't you think?

Nobody lives in PA for the nightlife, after all.


59 people like this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:54 pm

I find this whining to be offensive. Most of us commute! For a salary of 6 figures, teachers have 3 months off per year, have job security, no accountability, and the school bell rings at 3:30. Sure, there may be some off hours work occasionally, but still . . . Sign me up!


58 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:55 pm


Teachers need to take on non-teaching jobs first. Then they would realize what a great job they have in Palo Alto. I've worked over 50 hours most of my working life. And live in a 2 bedroom shack in Palo alto. My sons won't be able to live near us so toss out being close to the grandkids. When times are tough, we don't get guaranteed promotions, pay raises, etc. We do get laid off because there is not tenure for us.


31 people like this
Posted by Time for city council to act
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Given all the passion and $ that the city council and some local politicians are spending to bully the Jissers in the Buena Vista case, why not ask them to redirect that passion and $ towards affordable housing for essential employees to the community: teachers, firefighters, police.

I was shocked to learn that the so-called 'affordable' housing in town was available to people from other communities, regardless of their connection to Palo Alto. Since I don't believe in this kind of welfare, I suggest we use the affordable housing funds to help those who help our community in their day-to-day jobs.

Knowing our politicians, they'll probably not do much about it because these actions won't get them new votes in the next election.


51 people like this
Posted by Tough sell
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jan 27, 2016 at 4:58 pm

I don't actually think the Palo Alto public schools are so good. The demographics of the students predict as much success as they have, and they have to work harder and sacrifice more to get there than those with similar demographics elsewhere. Combine that with illegal discrimination, petty vindictiveness, lack of stepping up to make things right, etc., and it's not impressive.

But I agree it's expensive to get a nice house on a quiet street here.


44 people like this
Posted by Tegan
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2016 at 5:04 pm

I teach in San Jose and literally choked on my tea when I got to the part of this article that shares how much Palo Alto teacher salaries are. Wow! I don't get paid nearly that much! It's never good when teachers can't live in the communities they teach, and I hope a resolution comes about to make this possible. Meanwhile, I'm gong to check to see if there are any job vacancies with PAUSD!


35 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 5:04 pm

One of the really annoying problems that is constantly with us--regarding the appropriate compensation for government employees is how to determine just compensation. Do we pay government employees according to the intrinsic value of their labors, or do we pay them according to some other metric--such as the cost of a home in the community where they work? Do we consider the total cost of compensation--such as the cost of the benefits identified in the article above (which can run from 30% to 60% of the cost-of-salary)?

When the issue of buying a house comes up, we should be considering the total family income—not that of one single earner. (The bank will most certainly want to see the family income when considering making a loan on a home.) So—if we are told that the total family income is none of the public’s business—then the public really needs to ignore any such claims that the employee should be able to purchase a home in the city where they work—no matter what the average cost of a home.

Teachers don’t work as many hours as a normal employee. For the most part, they work about 186 days a year (for which they are paid). If they work more (like the rest of us), then presumably they would be paid for that too. If they work for the PAUSD (say teaching summer school), then those salary numbers would be reflected in any public records request for employee salary. If they work elsewhere, then that income would not be known to the PAUSD. So, if we were to annualize a senior teacher’s salary/benefits cost such a teacher would see over $170K to $200K a year.

Teachers are not restricted by law from investing in stocks/bonds, like the rest of us. If, on the other hand, they don't think that they should have to manage money like the rest of us-then they are voluntarily giving up options to increase their personal/family wealth for no good reason.

And then there is the deferred salary that government employees receive vis-s-vis their pensions. In the case of school teachers here in California, this can be as much as 72% of their final years' salary. So, for long-time PAUSD teachers, this means that they will receive pensions of between $70K and $80K a year for life. Teaching living at least 30 years after retiring with a salary of 100K or more will see pension checks in their mailboxes that exceed 2 million dollars. Non-government workers will not see anything like this from Social Security, or whatever retirement investments they have made.

It’s a shame that the education industry is not honest enough to reveal all of the compensation, and costs, of hiring teachers.
















And then there is the deferred salary that government employees receive vis-s-vis their pensions. In the case of school teachers here in California, this can be as much as 72% of their final years' salary. So, for long-time PAUSD teachers, this means that they will receive pensions of between $70K and $80K a year for life. Teaching living at least 30 years after retiring with a salary of 100K or more will see pension checks in their mailboxes that exceed 2 million dollars. Non-government workers will not see anything like this from Social Security, or whatever retirement investments they have made.

It’s a shame that the education industry is not honest enough to reveal all of the compensation, and costs, of hiring teachers.


28 people like this
Posted by SuperD
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 27, 2016 at 5:05 pm

It would be nice if some of the rental units being built that are currently designated for 'low income' people could be reserved for public school teachers, police officers, and fire dept personnel. So long as they are employed in those vocations, they could receive lower rents. These categories of folks are important to our communities. I'd rather they get the housing benefits versus some free riders, some of whom contribute zilch to our communities.


8 people like this
Posted by former teacher
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 27, 2016 at 5:08 pm

I bought a powerball ticket last week just for fun and made a dream list of what I'd do with the money. One of the top five was either donate to the Palo Alto and surrounding schools to doubles teacher salaries or build housing that's only for teachers...and firefighters and police officers.

OR maybe all of the good teachers will leave and the schools will go downhill and then the housing market will bust and people will leave and I'll be able to drive the 2 miles to downtown in 5 mins instead of 20 because THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE HERE NOW there is traffic EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME!


23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 5:22 pm

I'm not sure about calling teachers, fire personnel, police officers, etc. lower income in the traditional sense. I don't think they would want to be labeled this way or work in a compound just for them. As valuable as these categories are to us, are they more deserving than a medical secretary or technician, a plumber, electrician, car maintenance, or Caltrans worker?

We need to have support and service people living within a short commute to our town. Something will have to give. East Palo Alto and Menlo are still available, but for how long?


24 people like this
Posted by problem solved
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 27, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Since we're not going to open a new high school, turn Cubberly into teacher housing.


44 people like this
Posted by Cupertino builds teacher housing
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 27, 2016 at 6:11 pm

Cupertino has addressed this problem by building BMR housing for district teachers:
Web Link
This is an approach Palo Alto could and, I'd argue, should adopt if we'd like to attract and retain excellent teachers.


18 people like this
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 27, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: SuperD: "It would be nice if some of the rental units being built that are currently designated for 'low income' people could be reserved for public school teachers, police officers, and fire dept personnel."

For a family of four, the cut-off for "Below Market Rate" (affordable) units is a household income of roughly $105-110K. Because Police and Fire personnel tend to have large amounts of overtime, they would need enormous families to qualify.

As to teachers, they too typically don't qualify: A dual-income household pushes them well over the threshold, and no/fewer children lowers the threshold. This question comes up repeatedly and the groups that manage the BMR buildings are asked how many teachers are tenants and or on the waiting lists, and the answer has consistently been "None". However, this may be because they don't seem particularly interested in this aspect of public policy.


25 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jan 27, 2016 at 6:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The MPFPD has addressed this issue by providing "bonuses" for firefighters and Chiefs based on how close they live to the District. This policy increase the probability that these essential personnel will be available in the event of a disaster.


37 people like this
Posted by Dedicated teacher
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2016 at 6:52 pm

I appreciate the support provided by some in this forum, but find it overwhelmingly against teachers. I find this disheartening. I am a teacher in another state and we work long hours- not just from 9-3 when school is in session, but long before, long after, and on the weekends. Yes we don't work in the summers, but our salary is adjusted for this. We love what we do and believe in the difference we make. I completely support the notion that teachers should be able to live in their work community. I am lucky to teach at a school a mile away from my house and I love being able to be an active part of the community. I can only imagine what it must be like for the teachers commuting hours each day. I hope something can be done to make their situations better.


37 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 27, 2016 at 8:50 pm

Guess what? It's not East Palo Alto's job to take care of the problems that PA refuses to take care of. Deal with it.


30 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 9:01 pm

Its unfortunate, but absolutely nothing can be done about teachers and other low income workers having no housing options in Palo Alto. But before you think of us as completely heartless monsters, be assured, if these forums are any indication, you will never ever hear a single complaint about traffic caused by large numbers of inbound commuters. Ever.


31 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of another community
on Jan 27, 2016 at 9:46 pm

I agree with Dedicated Teacher that it is disheartening to see how many of the comments are against teachers. While teacher and public service member housing would be helpful, many of those would presumably come with stricter rules related to noise and curfew as what exists in the the teacher apartments built by Santa Clara Unified School District. While it is nice to have fellow trench buddies nearby, I like not spending 24/7 with employees in my school district.

As my first placement was in Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto, I have an issue with those hove who have included it as "the greater Palo Alto community." Those who try and lump the cities together lack the knowledge that they are incorporated into two separate counties and that those with a connection to East Palo Alto for more than the last 10 years know that there are major differences in amenities (only one major grocery store in EPA), neighborhood culture and mentalities. While housing can be considered affordable in EPA compared to Palo Alto it is still beyond the reach of many teachers, new to the profession, regardless of number of children and marital status.

As a teacher with the average salary referenced above no now living in San Jose, I struggle with paying rent, paying a car note, and student loans, not because I lack the skills to invest and desire to build a life after employment, but because I know that there is NO PENSION to "live off of" as well as no social security to lean on. I scrape anything that might be above living expenses into a retirement fund in hopes that I can retire at 60 and die before I'm 80. These dreams are only possible if I don't buy (because I can't afford to buy) a house, marry to provide additional income (know of a non-socially awkward person on a tech salary?), and don't have children.

My final thought is related to the perceived lack of work ethic of teachers. I have never met a teacher who does not do, or think about work outside of the school day no matter their experience level. Going to the market means picking up circular cereal for the 100th day of school, a trip to the beach includes picking up shells for each student to look at in order to practice writing vivid details. A relaxing evening with Facebook? Oh no, that's how I found this saddening commentary that compelled me to respond, past my bed time, on a school night. My salary is only for the weeks school is in session. Teacher salaries do not pay for months school is not in session. Teachers may choose to let the district withhold part of the teachers salary and alot that money back to the teacher when school is not in session. Many teachers do pick up a second job over summer to make ends meet. This is also time we get to act like humans and stay up past 10pm, get our hair done, and try to read a book intended for adults. Many teachers also use the time to go to trainings, optional unpaid professional development and yes, not work because it takes a lot of mental strength to not blow up on the student in my class who WILL NOT STOP MEOWING EVERYDAY SINCE BEFORE THE WINTER HOLIDAY BREAK.


14 people like this
Posted by Susan
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 27, 2016 at 9:48 pm

I object to commenters who think people making 6 figures should move to where low income people live, displacing them whether in EPA or here at Buena Vista. Unconscionable! My dad was a teacher and no profession is more honorable - but it grants no entitlement to pass on one's misery to others.


12 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 27, 2016 at 10:46 pm

> As a teacher with the average salary referenced above no
> now living in San Jose, I struggle with paying rent, paying a car
> note, and student loans, not because I lack the skills to invest
> and desire to build a life after employment, but because I know
> that there is NO PENSION to "live off of" as well as no social
> security to lean on.

Something is not quite right with this comment. The poster does not identify himself/herself as not working in the public school system. If he/she is, then pensions are provided via CalSTRS. If this person is working in a private school, then perhaps the comment is true. But if the poster is certified to teach—then he/she can move to a public school anytime he/she wants. Just because someone is a teacher does not exempt that person from being responsible for developing a lifetime financial plan.

Lastly, most people work all year long. Why teachers should not too is increasingly becoming an issue with the taxpayers—who end up paying all the salaries of government workers.


37 people like this
Posted by show compassion please
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 27, 2016 at 10:49 pm

I support and welcome all to live in Palo Alto especially janitors, teachers, tech workers, secretary, Stanford students, firefighters, gardeners and nannies.

I have worked very hard to buy in Palo Alto BUT shame on me if I ever forget my roots and that I too struggled and lived paycheck to paycheck. My solution, for my rental units, I always offer discounts to anyone who serves or served in the military, always keep rent extremely low for students/renters, and NEVER raise rent no matter how long they stay or how much rent rates have gone up. Please don't forget where you come from and give where and when you can.

Regarding teachers, folks like Tarn Wilson are exceptional educators but others, not just teachers, need rents to stay reasonable especially if they pay rent on time each month!


22 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Jan 28, 2016 at 7:02 am

Hmmmm writes, "Guess what? It's not East Palo Alto's job to take care of the problems that PA refuses to take care of. Deal with it." Try looking up Tinsley Act before throwing out comments like these.


33 people like this
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2016 at 8:16 am

The right thing for the PA community to do would be to raise private funds, build a brand-new teach housing development and offer subsidized housing to teachers.

If there are anonymous donors throwing $1-20M at new gyms and other less deserving projects, surely those of you who have struck it rich in Silicon Valley will see to it that the best teachers can work AND live here?

As for where the land will come from, since Zuckerberg is buying all the homes around him on Edgewood, if he would just live full-time in his SF pad, that PA compound could house hundreds of teachers. If not that, how about tearing down the Cubberly campus and building teacher housing on it?


63 people like this
Posted by Losing Valuable Teachers
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:08 am

Talk to PAMF about this one. They are having a hard time keeping doctors at their PAlo Alto and Mtn View facilities because their doctors cannot afford housing in this area.

We recently lost a beloved pediatrician because she could only afford a house in the East Bay ( Pleasanton), and with kids of her own, got sick of the commute. Now she works at the Danville PAMF.

My rheumatologist has cut down to one day a week at the PA PAMF because he could only afford a house in Fremont. He works two days at the Fremont facility, one day at PA, and two days at the Danville PAMF. I'll probably lose him soon, too.

The Mtn View PAMF has recently lost a hematologist, a urologist, and a gastroenterologist to the high cost of housing. Long commutes get old fast, sacrifice sleep and family time, and wear out a car rather quickly.

Connecticut has this problem, too, even though they eliminated property tax. The people who serve the communities there usually live out-of-state and have to charge ridiculous prices to make up for the commute. There is still a shortage there of teachers, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, and most tradespeople.

Unless certain professions can obtain subsidized housing, it's a no-win situation.


20 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:16 am

LVT says, "Talk to PAMF about this one..."

If doctors can't afford to live here, then who can? PA does have ~40k residents. Did THAT many people make it big in tech?


23 people like this
Posted by Bob V
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:32 am

Buena Vista would have been a great site to build new homes. Perhaps the Jisser's were right to build 170-180 homes on their site. It would have helped with this problem as well. But City Council instead would rather save an 80 year old travel trailer park with the thirty plus million dollars instead.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:04 am

My post above should read, live in a compound built just for them, not work.

Teachers are at various stages of life and share their personal lives with family at various stages. It is not possible to assume that a one size fits all type of home would suit all of them. Additionally, who would want all their neighbors to be coworkers?


12 people like this
Posted by DZ
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:09 am

One thing can help our teachers' housing situation is BMR houses. We have plenty BMR units, but a lot of them are assigned/sold to people from/work at other cities rather than from/work at Palo Alto. We should stop doing that, and prioritize our teachers, firefighters etc. A lot of people want to live in Palo Alto, but we can afford let them all come.


27 people like this
Posted by Some perspective
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:43 am

Having lived in the Bay Area a very long time, one myth I want to dispel is that it has ever been easy to afford a place to live here. I knew a man who came out here in a covered wagon and bought a house near University when it was Mayfield, and people told him he was absolutely insane to spend that kind of money on a house. Some of the postwar housing may have been attainable, but beyond that, it's always been hard. Everyone, and I mean everyone (except the rare who truly strike it rich) discovers that you can never get ahead if you rent, no matter the compromises you are willing to make in living conditions. At some point, to stay here, it's necessary to buy, and for ordinary people, that means huge, huge compromises in living conditions for long periods of time. Someone above says they are tired of hearing how others sacrificed to stay here, but people weren't complaining, they were offering advice. Friends who took that advice are still living here. Friends who didn't have moved away. That goes for everyone I know in every profession.

While housing prices seem astronomical now, the recollections of the past are not accurate. This situation is just deja vu all over again, as the quote goes. Money has been the cheapest it's been in my lifetime in recent years, that's part of it, and it's been cheap for a long time. Buyers can afford a much bigger loan on any given salary.

Imagine if mortgage rates were double or more. My spouse got in the housing market by buying the cheapest home sold in Sunnyvale that year (former superfund site). That would have been early '80s and people were impressed that anyone found anything for just barely under six figures, pretty much everything anywhere was more. Loan rates were much higher then. The place was uninhabitable and the drug dealer who had to be kicked out even upon possession moved next door. When I moved out here as a highly paid engineer in the mid-80s, I was making around $30,000 a year. I could not afford to live in Palo Alto, but I worked here.

My post is not for lack of sympathy for the teachers. My post is to point out that the problem of affordable housing in this area is really tough, and those who waited for agencies to solve it mostly haven't done well in the long term. Those who complain publicly are inevitably being used for someone else's (usually development related or political) purposes, but ai've never seen these things change the bigger problem. The light at the end of the tunnel is that if you do whatever is necessary to buy - one friend even had the laundry outside under a porch and had to convert the garage for a bedroom - eventually costs stabilize, and it does become possible to move up. But renting never stabilizes. The impermanence and costs of moving are another burden, and stressful amid other life stresses.

As some have pointed out, East Palo Alto is still relatively affordable, and buying now could be a smart move especially given that crime rates are now no worse than other Silicon Valley communities, and employers like Facebook are nearby. I have friends who moved into Palo Alto after getting starter homes in EPA when it wasn't this safe. I have friends living there now. I have a friend who had a farm there and only sold to retire. Parts of Menlo are the same.

I thought we would stay here for the schools, and we sacrifice even to this day, even though we cannot use the schools because of horrible administrators and teachers who went along with them and found it easier to be sucked into the backbiting than be upstanders. Like others we are starting the search we always knew was coming outside the Bay Area.

One thing I do find troubling is that when I look at many parts of this very vast nation, compared to when I was a kid, it looks like the third world compared to many nations even once considered part of the third world. Maybe the answer is to invest in sister communities in other areas, so that there are high quality options. Stanford is so wealthy, why not a satellite campus somewhere else, as an option, like in Oregon or even north of Santa Rosa? There are parts of some states that would really welcome the development and people. And if a lot of people had a similar place to relocate, it would be easier to remain connected.

That said, it's never a bad bet to ask for more money in this school district. It was worth a shot. But even any imaginable raise is not going to make this place easy, look at Max McGee needing $1.5 M free for a house when he already makes $300,000 in salary plus a $750/month car allowance. No way are the teachers going to get comparable to that.


15 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:47 am

<Teachers get all summer off - OFF! > No, unless 2 months is "all summer." They're off from about 6/10-8/14.

<These teachers are earning 100k each, a couple would earn $200k . Let's not forget summer work - 2 people for 2 months @$15/hr adds $10k > And they get to compete with college students for short-term jobs, because many employers don't want to hire for only the short-term.

My under-30 nephew is a local EMT. Makes 205K per year. His wife is a nurse & makes 115K.

Not all PA teachers have enough seniority for top pay. Saving for a down payment while renting is a slow process.

Move the tech jobs to Fremont, Modesto & parts outside the peninsula. Cut down local traffic. Let home prices & rents normalize to semi-sane levels.


18 people like this
Posted by TimH
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:00 am

This is a real problem not only for teachers, but other important "traditional" professions that no longer offer a livable wage. I also agree with other posts which remind us that Palo Alto has long been a more expensive city to live than most surrounding communities. My parents made "the sacrifice" more than half a century ago to raise the family in Palo Alto. We lived in a tiny home compared to our family friends who chose San Jose, Fremont, etc. but it was all well worth it. In those days, teachers and airline pilots (other important professions) were paid well in comparison to other careers, but both now have slipped to the bottom. An entry-level software developer, by their pay level, is more important than the pilot of your plane or the teacher of our children. Perhaps Palo Alto can live up to its self-image and create a bespoke community of modest homes where only certain professions may purchase? A colony of sorts would suit our tastes, I think! Thanks for reading.


26 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:31 am

Some thoughts:
How about merit pay? Some of the frustration with teachers complaining about pay is that the great teachers get the same pay and raises as the bad teachers (yes, PAUSD has some bad teachers). The union prevents this from happening, but the teachers support their union.

Merit bonuses? Can PAUSD give bonuses to the truly outstanding teachers?

Actual pay: When giving salary numbers, make sure to not that teachers work only 185 +/- days per year, and their workday "ends" at 3:30. Teachers also get at least one prep period during the day. So, if you prorate that average salary + benefits of the speakers of $128K, that's an annual pay rate of over $170K. Using just salary average of $103K, that prorates to $137K working for a full year instead of taking the summer off.

Know what you're signing up for: Similar to the people that buy a house at the end of the airport runway and then complain about the noise. Teachers have to know that this is not a profession where you're going to be able to afford a house in the most expensive area of the country.

One of my children is in a class where they didn't have enough desks for the students. The class has over 30 students. Another one of my children had to change their elective class because they didn't have enough working computers (they asked for volunteers to change). Yet, the district has been trying to cram more students on their campuses. How about PAUSD fix the underlying problems in the district. The teachers are paid well. It's a shame that housing costs have risen so quickly. As many have pointed out, there are plenty of places nearby where they can afford housing.


23 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:41 am

The current bubble is about to burst but Palo Alto is never going to be affordable. Palo Alto should turn to its amply supply of high educated retirees to teach school. Maybe they could only teach part-time to reduce their individual load. The schools would be different, but not necessarily worse.


41 people like this
Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:55 am

My daughter is a teacher who grew up in Palo Alto and graduated from Gunn. She loves having summers off and is free in the afternoons to pick her child up from school. She gets good health care benefits, with limited copays and a great retirement plan. True she doesn't make what her counterparts in the computer industry make, but she tried that life and opted for the less stress and shorter work hours of the teaching life.

Having had two children attend and graduate from the Palo Alto system, I found the teachers benefitted from the "genes and money" culture. There were far too few of either my son or daughter's teachers which "made a difference" in their education. (Jim Shelby at Gunn does stand out.)

Let's consider summers off, long Christmas breaks, etc. That salary of $116k, if pro-rated for those wonderful summer vacations comes to $145k.

I'm just not feeling too sorry for those teachers ....


14 people like this
Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:58 am

And, let's hear it for merit pay, not union negotiated pay to support the mediocre and poor performing teachers!


16 people like this
Posted by Kelly Door
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2016 at 1:05 pm

[Portion removed.] I dare any of you to spend ONE day in a classroom and then see if you feel the same way. And by the way, I know NOT ONE TEACHER who doesn't have a second or third job and NONE of them take the summer off. They cannot afford it. Palo Alto residents are so unwelcoming as it seems from the comments here. [Portion removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Luna
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Why commute in the first place when you have East Palo Alto right next door?


11 people like this
Posted by TeacherHousing
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 28, 2016 at 1:43 pm

I like the idea of housing for teachers, to keep them involved in the community and to support their involvement with our kids. I think this is the direction in which the housing discussion needs to turn. If the our city plays any role in housing, who should the housing be for and how much of it should there be? If the school district (maybe working with the city) were able to provide an apartment complex for teachers I would support it! Some people may say why are supporting one group over another? The answer is that's the way to support diversity. We already have low income housing. What we need is middle income housing - market rate housing is beyond their reach. So providing housing for a group we want to make sure remains part of this community makes a lot of sense to me. Building lots and lots of market rate housing for tech companies does not make sense.


34 people like this
Posted by Former Gunn Parent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 28, 2016 at 1:53 pm

Housing price in PA is out of control. Very few young people can afford to rent or buy here. My son, graduated from Gunn and Collage, is working for a high tech company near PA, cannot afford to rent a one bedroom apartment, seeing no hope to buy a tiny condo here. He ends up move back home with us in a tiny condo, try to move some money. He said that he may have to move to another state to be able to buy a small condo. So, this is not an unique issue for teachers, all other professionals get hit hard too, unless you work for Google or Facebook. My son has to save for his own 401k too. The teachers in PAUSD get pay well with their salary of 9-10 months of work per year with pension and almost free medical insurance. I do have sympathy for teachers, but it does not mean that we should keep taxing local residents to their salary. We don't get salary increase in a company as teachers, which basically squeeze our monthly money for our food and medicine and other stuff.


12 people like this
Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Let's create more light less heat. There are solutions to consider. Palo Alto has leaders, unlimited money and people lost in the wilderness. Why not find 3-4 proven solutions that already exist? Find a solution that can, as a minimum, solve a portion of the teachers' dilemma. There is no perfect one size fits all solution.

Consider faculty nearby housing such as:

Web Link
Staff Housing Development
In response to regional housing costs that are among the highest in the country, the San Mateo County Community College District has undertaken a number of different initiatives to assist faculty and staff with high housing costs, including building apartments that are rented at below-market rates to District employees and offering very affordable second home loans to first time-buyers. The District is able build first class, market rate housing and offer below-market rents because 1) it owns the land (land costs do not need to be included in the cost of ownership or operations); 2) it financed the project with a tax-exempt issue; 3) the property is property-tax exempt; and 4) the District does not have a profit motive. Rents from the project are set at a level that is sufficient to pay back all costs of construction, financing, maintenance and operations and fund a long-term capital reserve.

Adopt best practices...don't wander around in the wilderness and try to reinvent the wheel

Palo Alto City Council and PAUSD could make this happen, if they wished. And the private sector could provide a nice boost too.


17 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 28, 2016 at 2:31 pm

My parents bought a house during a real estate and economic downturn. $25k for a three bedroom house on a corner lot. That house is appraised at $1M today.

She commuted to the SJUSD from this house. A teacher => vice principal => Principal =>junior Administrator => Senior Administrator when she retired. She taught Special Ed. Dad worked at Stanford doing HVAC. They are still living in that " improved " $25k house.

[Portion removed.]

If you want more opportunities GO EAST YOUNG MAN!
Just fill up that U-HAUL TRUCK and go EAST on I-80. Where rush, rush, rush does not exist. You might want to talk to some BRONCOS FANS as I understand there are a hoard of them heading out there...


11 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2016 at 2:41 pm

"Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 27, 2016 at 1:50 pm

semi-sympathetic -
Kenyon Scott started teaching at Paly in 1985. Houses were barely six figures at that time. Houses didn't reach half a million until around 1996. Even in a downturn of PA real estate, it's still going to cost at least $1.5 million and even a $116,000 teaching salary cannot afford that."



I don't know where you're getting your historical data, but it is not accurate. The following prices reflect what we personally experienced at the time...

In 1985, condos in Foster City started in the $100K range.

In 1989, a nice 3BR/2BA house in Mountain View was over $400K.

In 1993, "fixer-upper" houses in Crescent Park were selling in the $800K - $1.2mil range.


11 people like this
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2016 at 2:44 pm

@ Crescent Park Dad

We bought our Midtown house in 1993 for less than $400K.


15 people like this
Posted by muttiallen
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 28, 2016 at 4:33 pm

muttiallen is a registered user.

Move to East Palo Alto? Ha! Rents there are almost as bad as Palo Alto. The school population in Ravenswood is declining as families move to Sacramento and Fresno. Who is taking over the housing? The young singles -- 3 or 4 people to a house a $1,000+ each. They like the easy commute to Facebook and Google.

Ravenswood District (EPA) recently raised the substitute pay to $200/day, but that didn't help. The Principal is teaching 5th grade, the Vice Principal is teaching 7th, and the Special Ed Department is mad that they are out of compliance with meetings around Special Ed requirements.

HELP! Teachers are more important than coders and should be paid accordingly!!


22 people like this
Posted by Teri wants money
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 4:52 pm

PAEA wants more money and will get more money. The Parcel Tax enabled that, Glenn McGee enabled that, and now the board will have no choice to give them more money in return for basically nothing. Where was Teri Baldwin for our kids when Mike Airo was being booked? Where were the teachers? We've had these scandals for over a decade and PAEA has remained silent. They have to be more than money. They have to do more than come on down to the board meeting and cry about the high cost of housing like this year, or the high price of gasoline like in years past. It's tough to pay low performers the same high salary as high performers, as well as pay an awesome third-year teacher a little more than half of what one of the ineffective veterans make.


33 people like this
Posted by Janet L
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 28, 2016 at 5:09 pm

Janet L is a registered user.

@Mike "If doctors can't afford to live here, then who can? PA does have ~40k residents. Did THAT many people make it big in tech?"

No, many people who own homes in Palo Alto did not make it big in tech. They bought their homes decades ago when it was expensive, but much more possible with a salary from a professional job (doctor, accountant, engineer, professor, etc).


28 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Ohhh, Mike, don't pull the Tinsley Act snark. That's *your* town's history biting you in the backside. That's dealing with the consequences of certain actions. As a PA native, I was uncomfy with the history. But really - quit acting like the job of our physically tiny town is to absorb what you slough off due in part to your civic policies, history and culture.

The teacher housing problem has been around for a long time, and has before been a crisis. Now it's even worse, as now those in higher paying professions can't afford the Peninsula. I know medical partners struggling to keep staff physicians due to the cost of Peninsula housing.


3 people like this
Posted by Another Perspective
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 5:49 pm

@Midtowner,
Lucky you - you benefited from the dip after the Loma Prieta earthquake. I remember that, too, having lost my home around then and becoming a renter again for many years. The fact is, this is a really old conversation. Prop 13 helped and hurt. It's really hard to get in but once you do, you can at least hope for stability. It is the only way to stay.


37 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Teachers make 6 digits, have additional benefits, job security, afternoons off, two months off in the summer, AND public holidays throughout the year. Where do I sign up??? I work in Finance, have no job security, have expensive medical premiums, no pension, work much longer hours and check emails throughout the night and on weekends (I doubt teachers work extra 'hours' before 9 and after 3:30pm everyday and every weekend). Also, judging from all the public holidays my kids have, it certainly exceeds what I get, which means that j have to spend vacation days so that I can watch my kids. Admittedly, I also make six digits but after factoring all of the above, I am ready to become a teacher to enjoy the wonderful lifestyle, low stress, job security and very good pay. For that teacher that challenged us to try and be in a class of students for a day, please quit now. You don't deserve to be a teacher and I hope my kids will never end up in your class. Suck it up, not everyone can live in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the world. Many of us have made many sacrifices to be here.


27 people like this
Posted by unbelievable
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2016 at 6:19 pm

To those spouting off about merit pay, you might want to do research about incentives. In school districts that have tried merit pay, it has not been effective. A good analysis of this can be found here: Web Link.

As others have noted, I'm not sure any potential "great" teacher would ever consider working in this community with the vitriol that is hurled at teachers in this forum on a pretty regular basis. In case you haven't heard, California is facing a very serious teacher shortage and it will hit Palo Alto. Perhaps some of those in this forum who think it's easy and are so envious of the summer vacation that teachers receive will apply and actually experience the luxury life of teaching.

In regards to schoology and the homework policy and blaming "the union." Teachers have bosses - they are called administrators who get paid more than teachers. They are paid to make sure teachers are doing their jobs. If teachers are not doing what is contractually required of them, then administrators should do their jobs and discipline these teachers. Even the smart people of Palo Alto should know that a contract is only as good as those who are willing to enforce it. Don't blame the union for administrators not doing their jobs.

A lot of the comments in this forum really reeks of superiority and complete condescension towards those who are willing to commit to teaching kids of some really entitled people.


36 people like this
Posted by entitled parents
a resident of another community
on Jan 28, 2016 at 6:23 pm

@Jim
Go to Edjoin -there are thousands of positions open in California and I'm sure plenty in Santa Clara County alone.

When do you think teachers plan? When do you think they grade? When do you think they answer e-mails? Answer phone calls? Guess what, Jim, that's all done in their "free"time - after school and on the week-ends.

Put your money where your mouth is, Jim. become a teacher. I wager you wouldn't last a day.


63 people like this
Posted by The Real
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2016 at 6:34 pm

The issue isn't that PAUSD teachers are underpaid. By most standards, they are quite well paid.

The problem is with foreign buyers and speculators who have been allowed to bid up the price of housing beyond the reach of anyone who is not a multi-millionaire at the very least. Even people with six figure incomes who have owned houses for years and have great credit ratings can't afford to buy again and move, Between the oppressive capital gains taxes, increase in property taxes on any future house, and the outlandish overblown prices, it's a bad situation for the overwhelming majority of potential home buyers.

Citizens of Chona have caused hyperinflation of housing in many countries. As a result, most countries have passed legislation to prevent them from buying residential or business properties. A few have the stipulation that they can buy one residence if they renounce their Chinese citizenship ( China does not allow dual citizenship). And actually LIVE in the house they buy! Others forbid home or business property ownership by any non-citizens.

It's more than high time that the Clifornia government, where most of this hyperinflation is occurring pick up the torch and forbid foreign speculation and the use of real estate for money laundering.


39 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 28, 2016 at 7:15 pm

Palo Alto Online sickens me. As a full-time teacher in this district, I hope these commenters feel good about themselves, demeaning a profession that has reflected on this community so well that it has enabled many to have houses of increasing value. I am reminded of immigrants who come to a new land and then don't let new immigrants share the same opportunity. I only hope to have some of your kids so I can teach them the kind of compassion, tenderness, and care for our community that I rarely see reflected in this online forum. Considering your complaints about paying teachers a living wage given the low tax rate on your income, while you claim your mortgage deduction, and have social security to look forward to amidst what seems like small-mindedness, you are hardly what I want to think of as the new American Dream to model for your children.

Forgetting for a moment that teachers do not get social security from jobs held at other times in their working lives, the dismissive contempt that so many people in this community have for educators is astounding. As for the folks like Jim H. who say the workday ends at 3:30, you obviously need a math refresher class to learn how to count. It is 7:15 PM and I am about to correct a series of papers which I want to return tomorrow in order to create the most effective learning conditions for my students. I corrected the others until late last night, and during my prep and lunch breaks over the last two days. Of course, it's what I signed up for, but it would be nice to not see this "gets out at 3:30" nonsense expressed on this forum anymore. It's pure stupidity.


27 people like this
Posted by You sicken me, too
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 28, 2016 at 7:23 pm

Living wage? Making a $100,000 is more than double a living wage. Folks working McJobs, they are the ones we need to help with a living wage. Have fun grading those papers because for everyone of you, there is another PAUSD teacher who hustled to the parking lot at 3:30pm. BTW, I teach.


24 people like this
Posted by Another parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2016 at 8:11 pm

I think teachers deserve more pay and respect, however, there are too many bad teachers who get to stay because of tenure. Nowadays when friends ask me about moving to Palo Alto for the schools, I have been telling them to buy else where that is cheaper and send their kids to private schools instead. Palo Alto schools are no longer worth the sacrifice, unless one is doing it for property appreciation only.


9 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Downloading the salary data from the web-site cited in the Weekly article, there are 2630 people one the PAUSD’s payroll for 2014. For all of those promoting that the public should be providing free, or subsidized housing for PAUSD employees—just how many of these employees should now expect to have their housing providing by the public? And given that one employee could easily bring in 2-8 additional people—for how many people are you suggesting the public should now be providing housing?

Oh, and presumably you will be wanting the same thing for City of Palo Alto employees and their families?


5 people like this
Posted by new teachers at risk
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:12 pm

It's the new, recently tenured teachers PA should target with any housing subsidies. PAUSD teachers with 15 or more years in the system typically have 6-figure salaries that will allow them to live in the area (especially if they purchased homes years ago when costs were more affordable). OTOH, new teachers have comparatively low salaries, often combined with educational loans that must be re-paid, which makes is difficult for them to afford the local housing costs. They are also more likely to move to other districts in affordable locates since they haven't yet invested as many years in PAUSD.


14 people like this
Posted by Use some Logic
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:36 pm

Use some Logic is a registered user.

Let me start by introducing myself as a student and would like to remain anonymous any farther than that. I am reluctant to be posting in such a heated discussion where I see some parents and teachers acting so over their heads. Teachers have every right to be enraged over the pricing in Palo Alto. AND Parents have every right to be frustrated over their demands that could seem to be invasive to their community. But people USE SOME LOGIC. As many parents have made it quite obvious in past comments that other cities are reasonable options. But how long are you parents going to continue to run away from problems when it comes to housing? I heard my parents' disapproval of the new apartments that are located almost seemingly everywhere and sure it would have been nice to have seen a new park or new recreational center. Do you even know what it's like to walk into class and see your teacher put on a smile at 8:30 in the morning when they have told you that they wake up at 5:30 just for their commute?AND YOU WORRY ABOUT OUR SLEEP???? You worry so much about your own children and listen to them about their problems at school but, WON'T EVEN RECOGNIZE their caretakers in? Since when has Palo Alto turned into a community like this? I feel ashamed of it. Please before making any rash decisions please take your time to see an entirely new perspective of a student.
Thank you for reading.


25 people like this
Posted by Six digits, whoa!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2016 at 9:54 pm

@Jim: By all means you should become a teacher - we need more good ones. However, there are a few things you should be aware of before you leave *your* 6 digits to "enjoy the wonderful lifestyle, low stress, job security and very good pay" that you seem to think all the teachers in Palo Alto are enjoying. First, you will need to go back to school to acquire a teaching credential, which, depending on your subject matter, could take you several years of additional education and curricular class work to attain, in the course of which you will incur significant student loan debt. (That assumes you have the leisure to go back to school full time instead of working for a living - otherwise it will take you longer.) Then you will need to do your student teaching stint, which could take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months. Then, assuming you get hired as a new teacher in Palo Alto, and depending on your level of education and your subject matter, you will start at the first step in the salary scale. Surprise, surprise! You won't hit those easy "6 digits" for another 10 years or so, and then only if you are at the VERY top of the scale. (In fact you can teach for 30 years in Palo Alto with 45 post-baccalaureate hours beyond your BA, and NEVER hit those magic "6 digits" you seem to think we are all enjoying.) You will probably want to take another job during the summer, as many teachers do, so that they can make extra money to pay their rent, pay off their student loans, and save to put their own kids through college. That's another way of saying we have a ten-month contract and DO NOT GET PAID FOR TIME WE DO NOT WORK.

You mention that you "have to spend vacation days so that I can watch my kids." Pardon me, but isn't that part of what you signed up for when you had kids? I am their teacher, not their baby sitter.

I routinely arrive at work at 7:00 am and on some days I am lucky enough to leave at 3:30 but if I am doing my math right that is 8.5 hours (I DO get a 30-minute break for lunch, but I usually have 15-20 kids in my room every day at lunch.) On other days I work until 5 or later, and also routinely take work home. I also do email at night and on weekends. It's routinely well beyond 40 hours per week. During my down time over holidays I usually put in at least one extra off-contract day in my classroom preparing new materials and organizing projects. I am responsible for 150 students on my roll. That's 150 individual souls to whom I have an obligation to provide the best possible individualized education. (But I really should't complain. I definitely got into this for the money, the low stress, and the wonderful lifestyle.) I could go on but you get the idea.

Walk a mile in a teacher's shoes before you so cavalierly make it out to be a walk in the park. It is an incredibly demanding job, but it is also boundlessly fascinating and rewarding. It's the hardest job I've ever had (and I've had several careers, including work in the private sector, for which I paid Social Security taxes that I will never get back in benefits - this is *barely* made up for in my pension) but also the best. Just don't imagine for a moment that it is anywhere near as easy as you clearly think it is. It is far harder and most people are not up to it. But if you are REALLY up to it, drop what you're doing and become a teacher, Our kids need the best. Can you BE the best?


17 people like this
Posted by Marc Vincenti
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:05 pm

Dear Onliners,

I can't tell you how pleasurable it is for a former high-school teacher in the District to read the many kind, empathic comments here about teachers, their vital role in the community, and the importance of their ties to young people. Thank you.

After speaking at last Tuesday's Board meeting, I rushed off to do what so many of my Gunn colleagues do: have coffee with a former student. This one is a girl--now a woman!--I taught when she was a sophomore, seventeen years ago. She's in town from Uganda with her firstborn, and will soon be off to the NYU campus in Abu Dhabi, where's she's landed her debut job in academia. We talked for two hours.

I can meet with her, and many others, because I'm still here in Palo Alto. And I'm still here in Palo Alto because my landlord in Barron Park, fifteen years ago when I said I wanted to move in, immediately said, "You're a teacher. Let me cut the rent by a few hundred dollars." And in fifteen years he's only raised it by $200. It's the single greatest act of respect I've ever received as a teacher.

A Palo Alto teacher who is lucky enough to live in Palo Alto hears a music all summer, as he walks or drives around town: "Hey, Mr. V.!" a young voice warbles gaily from some near distance, with a honk on a horn or a wave from a crosswalk.

Kids visit from college, from careers in Southern California, Ohio, China. It gives them strength to see that former mentors are still there, still care, and in many cases they pass down impressions of us to younger siblings yet to arrive in our classrooms. Another stitch in the fabric.

Many times too, as a teacher, you run into your kids' parents in the supermarket, or at a Starbucks, and you pick up valuable information about your student's mood and behavior at home, and how your student feels in your class, or how a student struggles to read or write. Teachers not able to live in Palo Alto are deprived of these connections, which make us better at our job.

In a time when many in Palo Alto lament a lack of "connectedness" in our high schools, long for more sense of "belonging," it can only be to our community's advantage to stitch together as many teacher-student and teacher-parent ties as possible, of all kinds.

And doing this kind of stitching, to repair our high-schools' torn fabrics, is the entire mission of Save the 2,008, the community coalition to create hope for Palo Alto's high-schoolers. We're open to all; please join us!

Sincerely,

Marc Vincenti
Gunn English Dept. (1995-2010)
Campaign Coordinator
savethe2008.com
savethe2008@gmail


33 people like this
Posted by Less special
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 28, 2016 at 10:11 pm

I'm trying to figure out what makes teachers so special that we should be providing them with housing subsidies so "they can live close to work". Yes, we need good teachers ("good" being the operative word) but we also need medical professionals, trades people of all types, housekeeping personnel, landscapers, the list goes on, obviously. Why is one sector more deserving than the others?

It's really hard for me to cry a river for those poor teachers that have to spend their "after 3:30pm" time working. Join the club - we ALL work after the clock but the rest us don't get off at 3:30. We leave at 6 or 7pm and then continue to work at home and on the weekends. And we don't get to go to bed at 9pm LOL just because we have to get up early in the morning. And we don't have jobs for life regardless of our performance and we don't have pension plans that pay us 75% of our final pay.

Eliminate tenure and I think you'll find that the public has more respect for the teaching community. Teachers have kind of created their own poor PR by supporting/demanding tenure.


12 people like this
Posted by BP dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:00 pm

Low income units in Palo Alto are open to all residents of Santa Clara county, so if you build 10 of those units in Palo Alto, good luck having just one unit go to a Palo Alto employee.

Next time advocates push for low income housing in Palo Alto, try to get those advocates specify how many units will actually go to Palo Alto retires, or city employees.


26 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:07 pm

Reading the comments on this thread, I can't help thinking that Palo Alto would be a really nice place to live were it not for all the Palo Altans.


25 people like this
Posted by BP dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:13 pm

Credit the greedy realtors and developers who have killed the goose for the golden egg, by hyping what a great place PA is to live in. Can't go back in time. Too late.

My children's elementary teachers all lived in the area, if not in PA. Once they have retired, the new teachers can't afford the immediate area. So none of these newer teachers will ever be long term, 10-20 years teaching in the PA system. You will get new teachers willing to do the commute for a few years, then leave for greener pastures, who in turn will be replaced by even less experienced teachers, staying for even a less number of years before they move on.

As the schools decline because of lack of recruiting good teachers, parents tired of living in this crazy area knowing their kids will never be able to live in the area as adults, they will leave, selling to the newest wave of immigrants, who will be buying into the area based on a lie that the schools are still excellent.


28 people like this
Posted by Another Perspective
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:56 pm

"When do you think teachers plan? When do you think they grade? When do you think they answer e-mails? Answer phone calls? "

That's a good question, because mostly they never answered ours, and when they did, it was never timely, and we (whole family) made to feel like pariahs. We eventually gave up. The teachers sometimes let other kids grade the papers or had kids grade their own, or didn't grade. Finals got graded but never sent home for someone who actually cares about the kids (parents) to help them learn as much as possible from them.

That was middle school, by the way, elementary teachers were great (still friends with). I can only shake my head at the teacher above who thinks they'll teach kindness to the kids, I frankly think the teaching staff should get the antibullying training so they don't give themselves a pass to go along with petty administrators who essentially behave like mean girls on steroids. Just because you mean well and don't think you are a bad person doesn't mean you are doing the right thing or being an upstander.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Teachers get tenure but still give themselves a pass on breaking a sweat to protect children in trouble. Our kid's patient doctor once commented that the teacher "should be shot" for something they said. We often felt as unsafe to send kids to school as it felt to be there.

One thing is for sure, I get no choice about whether I have to pay for a few kids to attend our schools even if we can't attend or afford to spend anything like that on alternatives. Walk a mile in PARENTS' shoes. ( We clip coupons, too.)


19 people like this
Posted by Cry poor?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 29, 2016 at 4:43 am

I love the range of responses to a thinly veiled ask for mountains of money. Houses in PA are not cheap because demand far outstrips demand.

Neighboring cities are much cheaper, and frankly not that far. I have friends in Fremont - it's not that far across the bridge...but I suspect that is not the point.

The ask (give us a house) is YUUUGE as a negotiating tactic to get something large (5% more pay) .

The indignant response to rejection of the Ridiculous appears to be theatre mostly.

BUT a solution is emerging from both side: taxpayers don't want to feel put upon by high paid, low performing teachers; while teachers feel they do great work and deserve some perks.

Let's organize a fund for teacher housing.- parents can donate (anonymously) to the teacher housing fund with any amount they like BUT DIRECTED TO A SPECIFIC TEACHER. If I like a teacher, I would cough up a few hundred or even a thousand. It MUST BE ANONYMOUS though, or it will turn into buying grades.

Then run it like PiE - get donors around town to match funds. Should be an easy sell - these are teachers the parents like, ergo teachers we want to keep.

The funds could be used to offer low interest loans, guarantee interest, or as a direct housing subsidy.

I think the best teachers could pull in pretty large bonuses in this community.

Would it buy a house? Maybe not but it could bring the interest and payment down a lot.

I would donate more for this tha I send to PiE.

Most of the money would go to the top teachers. If you imagine a fund the size of PiE going to the top 100 teachers, it would be a life changer.

Those 100 would love it. Parents would love it.


Thoughts?


25 people like this
Posted by You sicken me, too
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 29, 2016 at 5:31 am

We are not special. While there could be positive results from teachers living in the same community, there also seems to be an assumption that results are guaranteed. They're not. Some of the most entitled, self-centered, and not hardest-working teachers I know live in Palo Alto. Their behavior is sometimes repellent just like many of the Palo Altans that post here. It makes me not want to live in Palo Alto. Equally awful are the folks who arrogantly place themselves above other posters by judging them harshly for their online behavior (basically what I am doing now). Many teachers can afford to live in Palo Alto, many can afford to live in East Palo Alto, while others want to live in San Francisco because it's hip, still others in Pacifica and Santa Cruz for the beach. Stop crying for teachers, stop crying, teachers. Live within your means, live below them. My first years in teaching decades ago meant I shared an apartment with college friends, then other teachers. I drove a VW bug that started by releasing the clutch as well. Anyone remember that arrangement? Never walked in the snow, though. Some teachers, just like some police, firefighters, nurses, janitors, salespeople, etc. work very hard and some are very effective, usually a lesser amount are downright lazy and ineffective and make you wonder how they ever got hired. We may be different just like every snowflake, but we are not special. That really is an old lesson that needs to be taught again to all adults.


28 people like this
Posted by Been there parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 29, 2016 at 7:51 am

Blatant play for raises. Shameful when more services are so direly needed in this district.

Where are all the complaints about Prop 13?


26 people like this
Posted by Role Models
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2016 at 9:22 am

Another Perspective wrote: "I can only shake my head at the teacher above who thinks they'll teach kindness to the kids, I frankly think the teaching staff should get the antibullying training so they don't give themselves a pass to go along with petty administrators who essentially behave like mean girls on steroids."

Must add: this is also true for elementary school.

It is ironic that some school teachers and administrators are meant to be role models to kids. For girls, bullying is about "relational aggression," and that is unfortunately being modeled for them by some adults in the elementary schools.

Teachers can be worthy of sympathy and praise. And there are praiseworthy teachers in PAUSD. But when a community feels their children are not being served well by a number of teachers, and some sense this is a continuing and systemic problem, you will get this sort of critique.

The argument that teachers should be valued, because their work raises the value of properties here, seems questionable given the general attitude, approach, and commitment to education of parents in Palo Alto. There is a lot teaching and learning, of various sorts, going on outside of school. This is then reflected in students' grades and scores. Teachers are probably getting too much credit, and perhaps some are overcompensated, for how well students in this district are doing academically.

It's not that parents here can't understand the amount of work teachers put in outside of classroom hours. Many parents in Palo Alto spent years in graduate school, med school, and so on. They understand having to work many many hours, for example as researchers or teaching assistants or interns, and not being financially compensated for the time they had to put in for prep and grading. They understand that feeling of the work never ending and dogging them during evenings, early morning, weekends, vacations, etc. And, as people have already noted here, they did not graduate and go on to make the large incomes others might imagine that would enable them to rent or buy in Palo Alto.



14 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2016 at 9:45 am

Perhaps those thinking that teachers need a special deal can build a Granny Unit in their back yard to rent to a worthy teacher who can then walk to the neighborhood school.Web Link

I'm sorry if I sound snarky, but both these issues fall together in my book.

Teachers are no more special than anyone else who desire to live in town because they work in town and these units unless they are rented by single adults who will walk or bike everywhere will not make a difference to this particular crisis, in my opinion.


15 people like this
Posted by Longview
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2016 at 12:25 pm

There is a policy tool that would help a lot and is legally and administratively well tested: Rent Stabilization. Modern rent stabilization is not allowed to set or lower rents. It can do only one thing: set a cap on the annual % increase in rents for current renters. New renters have to find a place they can afford at the prevailing market rates. But once they find a place, then they have security that their rents will not spike unreasonably. People will still be making hard choices between commutes and where to live. But once they settle, their choice won't be destroyed tomorrow by a 50% rent increase.


9 people like this
Posted by GraceBrown
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2016 at 4:50 pm

GraceBrown is a registered user.

Bottom line - I suspect that all the non-teachers posting here are secretly jealous. Everyday, I get to work with innovative, creative, and passionate people. Who? PAUSD high school students. You want joy? Hope? Optimism? Talk to a teenager. As a teacher, I try not to brag about how cool my job is.

Having said that, most everyone I know, teachers and non-teachers alike, are dedicated to their chosen profession and the satisfaction it brings. And to that end, manageable commutes and an adequate housing supply are the underpinnings of an inclusive and vibrant community.

I'm interested to learn more about the ways in which land use policies and smart development can remedy the impacts of the prosperity we all enjoy living here in the Valley.


14 people like this
Posted by Paly Alum
a resident of another community
on Jan 29, 2016 at 8:34 pm

I think that there are always going to be those teachers that complain, while others are appreciative of what they have, and don't worry about the late commute, if it meant helping a student. I spent my entire senior year being homeless, and there would be times that a teacher would buy me lunch, or stay after school to help with my schoolwork, especially my college work, since I was also taking classes at Foothill at the same time. I agree, teachers should be appreciative of what they have, but to say that all teachers don't stick around is wrong. And the reason why there are so many jobs in Palo Alto, compared to what the population is, is because they are constantly needing to increase the size of schools, and bringing on more teachers.


17 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Jan 30, 2016 at 7:19 am

ep writes, "When do you think they answer e-mails?" It's been my experience that the majority of teachers never answer e-mails - NEVER.


2 people like this
Posted by more housing
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 30, 2016 at 2:30 pm

For anyone who's unhappy about people in this thread saying it's right that teachers can't live in Palo Alto, or for anyone who thinks that Palo Alto shouldn't just be for multimillionaires, please support local housing growth and check out Palo Alto Forward: Web Link


10 people like this
Posted by Community
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2016 at 4:47 pm

PAF is a bunch of idealogues being used by developers. They cling to a simplistic idea of supply and demand and ignore the facts. They think because they are decent people, the traffic, increased average rents from all the new luxury building, and other problems their ideas create p must magically be from other causes.


18 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 30, 2016 at 5:53 pm

How can there be a problem? I remember a big justification for building the 800 High Street housing project was to provide affordable housing for city workers, teachers, and firefighters. That's why I voted to allow it. What happened?


12 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Feb 3, 2016 at 5:24 am

Stanford study also shows exiting teachers who were identified as low-performing, resulted in substantial improvement in overall teacher quality and student achievement.

Web Link

This suggests the teacher's union doesn't do what's right for our children.


9 people like this
Posted by Community
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2016 at 8:55 am

What about administrators? Why can't we seem to get rid of underperforming ir even unethical ones? In a district with so many gifted kids, why is it we have no gifted educators in administration?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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