OAKLAND (BCN) – City, state and community leaders on Wednesday announced the expansion of a pilot program to recruit and retain specialist teachers of color to schools in Oakland via aid to housing.
The program called Teachers Rooted in Oakland provides subsidized housing or stipends to educators, some of whom are graduate students who are graduating from teaching. Oakland schools are trying to attract teachers who specialize in subjects such as math, science and special education that are difficult to recruit.
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TRiO supports 30 teachers and teacher-residents. Seven of the 30 will be living in new housing at 2618 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland. Eighteen of the 30 are new resident teachers.
TRiO on Wednesday accepted $ 1 million from Bank of America to double the number of participating teachers and teacher-residents, according to city officials.
The new accommodation will allow educators to focus on their studies and / or lesson plans in a more relaxed environment than would otherwise be possible.
“When we come together, we accomplish great things,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
TRiO launched in Oakland last November. Educators can receive stipends of $ 500 per month for four years after completing a year of residency, which takes place concurrently with graduate school.
It may be the only such program in the United States, city officials said. Educators can also receive free financial advice as part of the program.
Schaaf said the city needs to bridge the gap between low teacher salaries and the high cost of housing.
“TRiO does exactly that,” she said.
A recent survey showed that 78 percent of educators in Oakland who teach hard-to-hire subjects, such as math and science, said they may have to quit teaching due to the high cost. housing.
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Schaaf added that 61% of teachers of color in Oakland are heavily affected by rent. This means that they pay more than 30 percent of their gross income in rent.
Yet students of color do better in school when taught by teachers like them, according to Schaaf. Eighty-eight percent of students in the Oakland Unified School District identify as black, native or of color, city officials said.
Wednesday morning’s announcement was close to the heart of OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell.
She started as a teacher in Oakland and was able to live at home so that she could pay to go to California State University East Bay and graduate from teaching, she said.
Economic challenges are really making it difficult to attract talent to Oakland classrooms, Johnson-Trammell said. Housing insecurity is more prevalent among teachers of color than among their white peers, Oakland officials said.
Yet nothing that was done on Wednesday morning can replace the proper payment of teachers, Johnson-Trammell said. She called on everyone to do their part to improve the per student money allocation so that it compares to private schools or states that have higher allocations.
Despite the challenges future teachers face, Gustavo Ontiveros said on Wednesday that he is fulfilling his dream of becoming a high school math teacher.
Born and raised in Salinas, he began as an apprentice teacher at Oakland Technical High School and is working toward a teaching degree at the University of California, Berkeley.
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He said without TRiO he would live in a shared room and have difficulty concentrating on his studies and lesson plans.
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