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Solution to Recruiting Woes: Teachers Given Subsidized Housing Instead of Higher Pay

January 4, 2016

What do school districts in San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Asheville NC, Aspen CO, Odessa TX, and Silicon Valley have in common? They can’t find housing for their low paid government employees— teachers— and so they’ve come up with the perfect solution: sell bonds to provide subsidized housing reserved for teachers.

As AP writer Lisa Leff reports, school districts in affluent metropolitan areas with expensive housing are finding it hard to attract teachers and because they are reluctant to address the problem by increasing the pay so that teachers can afford to reside in their regions they are instead resorting to building subsidized housing for the “professionals” they want to attract to teach the children of those who can afford to live in the district. This kind of tiered housing sends a discouraging message:  teachers, like the hired help to mow lawns and maintain houses, either have to live in a distant exurb or have subsidized housing. The children who attend these schools see teachers in a different light when they realize that they live in clustered houses instead of the leafy estates where they reside. In effect, teaching is perceived as a career that is comparable to monastic life as opposed to a career that can provide a middle class life style. I imagine a decade from now I will be reading columns wondering why high performing students do not aspire to teaching but instead want to pursue careers in technology or finance… and reading about the marvelous savings that are possible for taxpayers when teachers are housed in low rent apartments and paid ever-lowering salaries.


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