Education Equity Starts with Teacher Salary Equity

By Nirmy Kang, writer and PACF donor

The causes of educational inequity remain multifaceted and well documented. An often overlooked factor, however, is the economic disparity faced by those who are a key part of the solution, the educators themselves.

Historically the below market compensation offered to educators in struggling school districts has led to the inevitable draining of effective talent away from those who need it the most.

In our own community, the Ravenswood City School District (RCSD) — where 43 percent of the students are unhoused or housing insecure, and 93 percent live below the Federal Poverty Line — teacher salaries are well below those of neighboring districts, resulting in 40 percent of teachers leaving RCSD within the first five years of teaching.

A bold new initiative by the Ravenswood Education Foundation (REF), in partnership with RCSD, seeks to redress this persisting undercompensation and, thereby, positively impact student outcomes. The Ravenswood Talent Initiative is a $15.4 million private-public partnership that will provide bridge funding for the five-year horizon until RCSD can self-fund costs through the long-term lease of high-value properties owned by the district.

The initiative will not only offer effective educators the opportunity for accelerated progress on the salary scale based on results from annual evaluations, but will also support educators by providing calibration coaching and stipends for professional development. To this end, a 10 percent initial raise will immediately close the gap with neighboring districts. This pioneering approach to teacher evaluation and development has the potential to be a powerful model for other districts well beyond our area. We at PACF are proud to be able to offer support to this long-ranging initiative by awarding a $100,000 Dave Mitchell Impact Grant in May 2022 to the Ravenswood Education Foundation.

View the full January newsletter here.