By Jacob Bourne
A rally led by United Educators of San Francisco took place on January 29 in front of City Hall, bringing together hundreds of teachers, parents, students and activists, who demanded $60 million to raise educator’s incomes to a livable wage. The demonstration came in the midst of a court battle involving Proposition G, which ensures that public school teachers earn an annual raise levied by a property tax to help them remain housed in the nation’s priciest city. The initiative was passed by 61 percent of voters, however the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is contending that Prop G and other recent initiatives require a two-thirds majority.
“It’s time to quit making excuses and it’s time to fund public education,” said Theresa Montaño, vice president of the California Teachers Association. “The voters of San Francisco have spoken — loudly, overwhelmingly — standing beside their educators to say it’s time to put funding into our schools.”
A large crowd listened to speeches by Montaño and others, including Supervisors Shamann Walton, Matt Haney, Hillary Ronen and Gordon Mar. Music performed by the Wallenberg High School Band peppered rallying cries. The Supervisors present echoed each other’s stance that the City must prioritize funding for all the pressing issues of school funding, homelessness and childcare.
“We are fortunate enough to have windfall resources that will help us alleviate the damage caused by the court challenges,” said Walton, “We have an opportunity to use $185 million to support the will of voters.”
Educators spoke at the rally about challenges they face doing their jobs while facing high student loan debt and soaring rents. Ronen decried that San Francisco’s teachers earn less than surrounding districts leading to record teacher vacancies in recent years.
“Labor is fully united in making sure that the teachers get the $60 million that they deserve,” said Kim Tavaglione, political director, San Francisco Labor Council. “We believe that this is the beginning of gaining true social and economic justice for San Francisco.”