Bay Area teachers working second jobs to make ends meet

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Teachers often describe what they do as a passion instead of a career. But what used to be a job for a lifetime is quickly changing in California and the Bay Area. (KGO-TV)

Teachers often describe what they do as a passion instead of a career.

But what used to be a job for a lifetime is quickly changing in California and the Bay Area.


The Learning Policy Institute issued a report in September on teacher shortages, and found about 8.5% of teachers appear to be leaving the profession or the state each year. Another 8% leave their current school to move to another, the report says.

RELATED: Building a Better Bay Area: Keeping teachers in the Bay Area

Liz Chivers has been a 3rd grade teacher at Grimmer Elementary in the Fremont Unified School District for the past eight years. She grew up in Fremont and went to Fremont schools.

"I was inspired to be a teacher by the teachers of Fremont. They gave me my love for learning and my passion for all of this," said Chivers.

She started off her career 12 years ago during the Great Recession.

RELATED: Teachers seeking solutions to San Francisco's affordable housing crisis

For her first five years, she was laid off at the end of the school year and rehired at the end of the summer.

"It was a tricky way to start and I felt I never had that financial stability to be, you know, a middle class homeowner in the city of Fremont," said Chivers.

On days when she's not teaching, you most likely will find her at her second job doing office work at Ellison's Towing in Mountain View.

"I have been working there six years now and really the ends don't meet with my teaching job," said Chivers.

RELATED: LAUSD teachers push for reinvestment on day 1 of 1st strike in 30 years

Liz estimates she works 12 to 15 hours a week at Ellison's during the school year and 30 to 40 hours a week during school breaks.

Why does a full time teacher with 12 years of experience need to work an extra job?

Teachers in Fremont Unified receive some of the highest salaries in the East Bay.

Starting teachers can make anywhere from $66,398 to $72,549 a year depending on their education. The twist is teachers in Fremont do not get healthcare coverage.

In the 1990s the union and the district negotiated an increase in salary in exchange for healthcare.

RELATED: Bay Area, California schools struggle to keep teachers in competitive market

Victoria Birbeck-Herrera is the President of the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association. She said, "However nobody could've anticipated that decades later we would have healthcare that would increase 50, 60, 70% over that amount of time. So the dollar for dollar is of course really devastating to our educators."

The cost of housing is also skyrocketing, with an average 2-bedroom apartment renting in Fremont for $2,504 a month according to Rent Café. Add in student loans and you can understand why a teacher is putting in more hours at a second job.

"I'm not going on any fancy vacations or anything with the money. I tried to put away what I can in savings because home ownership is a goal that I have, but you know I realize that I'm one medical emergency away from being in really big financial trouble so I try to have a rainy day fund," said Chivers.
Related Topics:
educationteachersteacherunionsschoolbuilding a better bay areajobscareerssalaryFremont
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