Analysis: Teachers Seek Equal Solution to Unequal Pay Gap

The teacher  compensation gap is real and many teachers, particularly the younger and least experienced teachers, are really disadvantaged by it.  But the district’s data show that this gap is not uniform across the pay scale and that the entry level teachers are much more heavily disadvantaged than the most experienced teachers who are at the top end of the pay scale.

According to district data (provided here),”the DTA salary schedule at Step 1 is about $3000 below the regional average for Step 1 and and nearly $4000 below the regional average in Step 5, and about $20 per day (10%) below the regional average daily rate.”

However, the numbers for the most part improve (except, strangely, for Steps 11 to 15) as you go up the pay scale.

The data show, “DJUSD salaries in Steps 6-10 are about $5,000 lower than regional average and about 5.4% or $18 below the regional average daily rate.”

However, when you get to Steps 11 to 15, they are now $5000 to $6000 lower than the regional average or “6.8% or $26 lower than the regional average daily rate.”

That gap closes considerably at the 16 to 20 steps which are now still lagging regional average, but from $2000 to $4000 below.  “DJUSD salaries in Steps 16-20 are 1.4% or $7 per day below the
average regional daily rate.”

The district’s approach from our understanding is to attempt to reduce if not eliminate the compensation gap across the board.  But that would require unequal pay increases for the teachers – something that DTA spoke out against on Thursday.

The teacher compensation gap exists all the way through the pay scale, but it is far worse at the lower end.  The teachers, it would seem, are not wanting to simply adjust the pay scale so that the new teachers are given a larger pay increase in order to close that gap while more experienced teachers, who are closer to begin with, get less of a pay increase.

This becomes clear in the message sent by a number of teachers including DTA President Dianna Huculak on Thursday.  She said that “we have been seeking significant but above all fair increases for ALL of our members, not just small sub groups.

“The huge disparity in the offers made by the district for people – perhaps 7 percent for one member while 1.5 percent for the person working next to them – is unacceptable.,” she said.

For the most part, contract negotiations are confidential, so we can only infer from the conversation what might be going on.  From her comments, and those of others, it would appear that the district’s offer is for a big increase for new teachers with a smaller increase for more experienced teachers.

The DTA is rejecting that.  Ms. Huculak says, “The compensation gap is profound at all levels of the salary schedule. It impacts not just beginning teachers, but also those teachers who have dedicated their professional lives to working in this district.”

The next part of the message was delivered later in the evening by former DTA President Blair Howard.  He said, “So as you consider this parcel tax, consider that in order for it to get passed, it will need to inspire, it will need to do more than just kind of sort of keep up, and it will really need to meet the needs of the people who are here now because I’m not certain the prospective teacher who is in another community is going to come over to Davis and work on the passage of a parcel tax, so they can come to work in Davis.”

The message here appears to be not that the teachers will not support a parcel tax or will not work for the parcel tax.  Instead, it is a bit more complicated.  What they want is what they consider a fair increase for all of their members.  They do not want a situation where the least experienced take a 7 percent pay increase, but the most experienced only get 1.5 percent.

What they want is a pay increase across the board and they are warning that an unequal pay increase will not inspire their experienced members to work.  And that newly hired people, who are not in the district right now, are not going to come from out of town to do that work.

Dianna Huculak, in an email to the Vanguard on Monday, clarified their position: “DTA recognizes that there are significant wage gaps at all levels of the salary schedule.  DTA also has an interest (in) ameliorating these differences so that we are able to, not only attract highly qualified teachers, but also retain our colleagues to promote school stability, sustainability and student success.”

She added, “Therefore, we are seeking a fair contract that benefits all of our members.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Cindy Pickett

    This basically comes down to an equality vs. equity issue. I can see the arguments for both. An across-the-board percentage increase for all teachers is fair in the sense that everyone is getting an equal raise, but the result is still inequitable because the compensation gap varies among ranks of teachers.

    For faculty at the University we dealt with this in the past few years by giving all faculty a raise (1.5% last year), and then using an additional 1.5% to reduce inequities. So, all faculty got a 1.5% raise and then some faculty got more on top of that depending on whether they were currently being underpaid compared to other faculty at the same rank and step. And this is separate from whatever salary increase they earn for merits and promotions.

    But if the teachers prefer an equal across the board raise and are fine with the fact that this will result in inequitable compensation levels across ranks of teachers, then one could argue that this is their choice and preference and that the district should allow the teachers to determine how their raises are distributed.


  2. Ken A

    If “DJUSD salaries in Steps 16-20 are 1.4% or $7 per day below the average regional daily rate.” does that mean that the average teacher in region in step 16-20 make $92,500 ($500/day x 185 days)?

    When talking about teacher pay many people forget that the main reason teacher pay is “lower than average” is that teachers work around 185 days a year vs. 250 days a year (35% more than most teachers) for the average full time worker who gets two weeks paid vacation a year.

    P.S. Is there a link to show what the actual top scale (step 20) teachers are paid?

    P.P.S. When I was going to public school there were “steps” in every scale where a teacher with more education and/or special credentials made more than other teachers with the same number of years experience.  I’m wondering what a 54 year old bilingual teacher with a masters degree who has been teaching for 30 years is paid in Davis.


  3. Tia Will


    the average teacher in region in step 16-20 make $92,500 ($500/day x 185 days)?”

    I know many teachers from years of volunteer work in the schools. My daughter is a high school science teacher. Your calculation does not take into account evenings and weekends making lesson plans and grading papers. It does not include after hours student tutoring/assistance,parent teacher conferences, science fairs, after hours field trips. It does not include the seminars attended as continuing education. It does not include any of the activities that many teachers engage in but we do not see because they do not clock in and out. I become annoyed, at best, when this pretense that all of a teacher’s work is confined to their actual in class time is calculated in this manner.

    I also become annoyed when teacher’s paying for basic school supplies out of their own pocket  is not factored into the equation, especially for entry level teachers.

    1. Ken A

      In my first post I did not mention the fact that most (but not all) teachers “average” less than 8 hours a day for the 180-190 days a year they work, to get to “average” for a professional with an advanced degree a teacher would have to spend three (3) hours working after school.

      I know teachers work more than the 6-7 hours a day that are required to be “on campus” but it is still less than other professionals with advanced degrees (doctor, lawyer, CPA) that on average work almost “double” the hours of a public school teacher.

      Two close friends are married to teachers and for decades they have worked MORE than double the hours of their wives year after year.

      P.S. As an MD I’m sure that Tia knows that few professionals “clock out” after 8 hours, and she also knows that teachers working “full time” work less hours than almost any other professional with an advanced degree that claim to be working “full time”.

      P.P.S. I said “almost” all since there might be some group of people making almost $100K working under 190 eight hour days a year but I can’t think of one…

      1. Tia Will

        Ken A

        I can certainly think of  a few. ER doctors, plastic surgeons, dermatologists, pathologists, any doctor that works in an extremely large group practice and does not sign up for additional shifts voluntarily ( for which they are paid extra). Basically any medical specialist that does not deal with emergencies or that works fixed shifts.  Obviously I used the medical field since that is my area of expertise. There are perhaps those in other fields that once fully trained and experienced work 40 hour or less weeks with 6 digit earnings.

        1. Ken A

          I also MDs, Lawyers and CPAs that work less than 200 days a year, but all of them say they are working “part time”.  The average teacher in America (that does not coach a sport, tudor after hours or teach summer school) says they work “full time” but would be considered a “part time” worker by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in any other profession based on the hours they work.

        2. Howard P

          I agree David… should include (my opinion) “value added”, for instance (gets to performance and student outcomes)… but does that only apply to teachers?  Open to see what other “metric” you suggest… “performance” is a non-starter for DTA.

          Might also apply to some, if not all, professional employees in the City, as well… or State, or UCD… some of whom are NOT compensated for additional time, nor for training they seek/obtain that is not reimbursed…

          Or, is it only teachers?

        3. Keith O

          How about importance of the service performed?

          I would think everyone might consider their job important to some degree.  Teachers have a job to perform, just as most other workers also do.

  4. Howard P

    My “spidey-sense” is that what the Union really wants is a %-age increase sufficient to bring those most out of whack with the other districts… then apply that percentage increase to all teachers, across the board… all under the guise of “fairness”…

    So those at the higher steps gain more $ than those at the bottom… so what is more “fair”… same %-age increase, or same $ increase?

    Meant as a fair question… but unions are not necessarily “fair”, so it may not matter at the end of the day…


    1. Tia Will


      “Fair” is such a tricky word. What is almost always missing from the assessment is “fair to whom and under what circumstances ? “. From ten years of administrative experience, I learned that “fair” is often used when what is meant is “advantageous to me”. I do not see unions as any more or less “fair” than employers, whether private or public. Members of both groups are human and as such tend to look at “fairness” only from their own perspective.

      1. Ken A

        When my kids say something is not “fair” they usually mean it is not “advantageous to me”

        My favorite from Urban Dictionary is:

        fair: what life isn’t, life isn’t fair..

      2. Howard P

        Yes, and here, within the group the group of teachers known as DTA, they are applying the “what is most advantageous to the older/more experienced teachers (most union votes)” rather than the younger, less tenured ones… you actually demonstrated my point… if DTA’s current “position” prevails, there are probably 3 “no” votes on the measure, in this household… that would likely be “yes”, if all the steps were brought to median… or even a little higher…

        The “bubble” could easily burst if DTA continues their apparent approach…

        At this point, if DTA “wins” in their approach, I could even see myself campaigning, or at least supporting a campaign, against it…  for reasons I stated earlier…

  5. Cindy Pickett

    I also don’t think Ken is making the right comparison. Here is the Rocklin Unified salary schedule:

    These teachers work 186 days a year. When teachers say that they are being underpaid, it is in comparison to other teachers in surrounding districts who work the same number of days a year (give or take a few).  A first year teacher in Rocklin gets paid $45,253. A first year teacher in Davis gets paid $38,811. Where would you work?

  6. Tia Will


    A question for you since I don’t know how this works. Does the starting pay apply to all teachers new to district regardless of experience and qualification ?  Or are highly experienced and specialized, new to district teachers, started at higher pay levels ?

    1. Howard P

      David is part right… but if you have 10 years elsewhere, it translates to more than lowest step, but seldom at the 10 year step… think it’s done on a case by case basis, from what I’ve heard from folk…

  7. Howard P

    Another consideration…  if the “selling point” is to bring the DJUSD teachers up to par with surrounding districts, the analysis, and apparent district proposal (approach) is consistent with that, and increases the likelihood of passage of the measure… if however the district approves the DTA approach, either some teachers won’t be brought up to that level, or a lot of teachers will benefit beyond what the “selling point” is… if someone pointed that out in letters to the editor, social media, etc., the measure may well fail…

    Either way, appears the passage of the measure is “on the bubble”… DTA should consider that…

    This will be interesting…

    1. Cindy Pickett

      Yep. It’s a catch-22. If the raise structure is not equal across-the-board, some teachers will grumble and that may negatively affect the passage of the tax. If the raise structure is perceived to be inequitable by the public, the public may grumble, and that may negatively affect the passage of the tax.

      My sense though is that people’s intuitive sense of fairness is more closely tied to equality than equity. So, the flat percentage will be seen by most as the “fair” outcome. But that’s just a guess.

      1. Howard P

        I won’t try to guess what others may think, amongst voters, but  I favor not the flat %-age… it is antithetical to the union fairly representing ALL their membership… even within DTA, seems like the most experienced, higher paid folk want theirs with little concern for those newer/lower paid… and it also is inconsistent with the supposed “selling point”, and the districts goal for attracting new teachers…

        Dark side… are the older ones taking this as an opportunity to “spike” their pensions?  I hope not…

  8. Howard P

    Transparency issue… DJUSD has no info posted on Transparent CA… City of Davis does, UC does, State of CA does, Woodland Joint does, Washington (West Sac) does… why no DJUSD? Apparently neither on the comp for current teachers, nor retirees…

    All animals are equal, but apparently, some are more equal than others…

    Did DTA negotiate for exclusion? Incompetent senior Administrators? Ignorance?

    So much for “transparency”…

    1. Howard P

      Was curious as to compensation for the current and former DTA presidents… hidden…

      Going forward, will trend against the PT measure until DJUSD releases info to Transparent CA… regardless of the other issues I’ve raised…

      If there is a rebuttal to the arguments in favor of the proposed ballot measure, I’d advocate it include that…

      Might even write one myself…

        1. Howard P

          They are teachers, are they not?

          Again, you miss the larger issue (deliberately?)… DJUSD doesn’t appear to disclose ANY compensation by employee… you’re being such a zealot on this, to try to find any reason to question/discredit any poster who questions regarding the truth about compensation related to the measure, and in spite on your constant demands for transparency in the public sector!

          Definitely give you credit tho’ for the link to DJUSD analysis today. I want to be clear on that!

  9. Howard P

    seems someone asked (another thread?) about the DJUSD salary schedule….

    for the full compensation (health, retirement, etc.)

    Information only, no comment offered…

    Those, plus David’s cite above, should be good info for those who want to “drill down” into the ‘facts’…


    1. Howard P

      Thank you for that…

      Item 1 is where ther “rub” might be…

      I see no problem with the “agreement to negotiate”, as the agreement only goes until the FY where revenues could be generated if the PT passes.   The other points of agreement I have no problem with if, as it appears at first blush, assuming the district feels it is not dependent on passage of the PT measure.

      Given the rhetoric to date from DTA, and the clause for future negotiations if the measure does pass, unless DTA publicly goes on record for the “principles” of that negotiation (across the board or focused), well before the vote… we’ll probably be voting NO.

      We’ll see…

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