I am a Tehachapi Unified School District teacher. When I began my career as an educator in Tehachapi in 1998, TUSD bragged that they had one of the best salary schedules in the county. And to be honest, they did. Now, we are one of the very worst paid districts in Kern County, as well as in comparison to nearby districts in the Antelope Valley. Several teachers in our district have begun looking outside of TUSD to consider employment as the gap widens; some have already left for this reason.

Many school district pay scales increase for 20 to 35 years of teaching experience. Tehachapi’s stops increasing after 13 years. Currently, TUSD and Tehachapi Association of Teachers are in negotiations over a 2.5 percent or 3.5 percent raise (as well as contract language changes). And either number they arrive at won’t bring us up from the bottom. It is so very discouraging no matter how you look at it. This isn’t greed; this is our livelihood.

Many teachers will begin to feel forced to go elsewhere to support their families if something doesn’t give, and soon. Surrounding districts do show value to their teachers by compensating them significantly better; the numbers prove it. Tehachapi community, do you value your educators? Will you rally for your beloved teachers?

Emily Van Andel, Tehachapi