Oakland teachers and supporters hold signs that say "on strike!" and "come 2 agreement now" on a picket line near 35th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard in Oakland
Oakland Education Association (OEA) members and supporters hold a "mega picket line" at 35th Street and MacArthur Boulevard on the fourth day of the teachers strike in Oakland, Calif. on May 9, 2023. Credit: Amir Aziz

Teacher raises are a central component of the tentative agreement between Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland Education Association that was announced Monday, ending a seven-day teachers strike. Both the district and union have said the salary increases for teachers and other OEA members, like nurses and counselors, are significant. 

Assuming the contract is adopted (it still must be approved by the Alameda County Office of Education and the OUSD school board, and ratified by OEA members), how will OUSD educators’ salaries stack up to those at other school districts in Alameda County? We decided to compare the numbers. 

But first, here’s a quick overview of how the new contract will impact OUSD salaries if approved:

All union members will receive 10% pay raises retroactive to Nov. 1, 2022, and a one-time payment of $5,000. OUSD is also revising the teacher salary scale, which determines how much teachers make based on their years of experience, education level, and additional professional development received. The changes will increase base salaries by 11-22% and eliminate “dead zones,” or several-year periods when educators must remain at the same salary level. 

“[Some] people are going to be receiving $15,000 and even a $20,000 difference in their paycheck next year. That is life-changing for a lot of our members,” said OEA President Ismael Armendariz on Monday, after the strike ended. “I’m hearing from people who are telling me that they are actually considering staying [in OUSD] now because of the big difference that’s going to happen with the salary schedule.”

OUSD has said the compensation package is worth about $70 million, or roughly 10% of the district’s general fund, an investment that district leaders hope will lead to increased teacher retention. Over the past 10 years, OUSD has retained on average about 82% of its OEA members each year—the lowest retention rate among the district’s labor unions, according to OUSD data. Teachers in OUSD consistently rank housing and cost of living in the Bay Area as major factors in making them want to leave the district.

“It has always been important to me to move OUSD from a history of crisis towards a culture of stability and achieving quality for every student, family, and employee in our district. We have moved the needle significantly in that direction today,” Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said on Monday after the agreement was announced.

Using data from the California Department of Education, The Oaklandside compared teacher pay in Oakland with other districts in Alameda County before and after the new contract. We decided to include teacher salaries within the Alameda County Office of Education, since county schools also serve Oakland students and because it also competes with local districts for teachers. 

Our comparisons don’t include benefits for teachers—only their salaries. But it’s important to note that salary alone doesn’t tell the whole story of teacher compensation: OUSD pays 100% of healthcare premiums for full-time employees, an average annual amount of $17,830 per employee, according to the district. By comparison, Hayward Unified has some of the highest teacher salaries in Alameda County, but its employees pay 100% of their health insurance premiums, which can range from $700 to $1,200 per month for a single person. 

How OUSD salaries compared under the old contract

First-year teachers in OUSD who hold a bachelor’s degree and no other credentials earned about $52,000 during the 2021-2022 school year, the most recent year for which statewide data is available. Compared to starting teacher salaries in other Alameda County school districts and the Alameda County Office of Education, OUSD ranks 16th out of 19. 

The average pay for all teachers in OUSD during the 2021-2022 school year was $70,572. That amount ranked last among Alameda County districts, according to data from the California Department of Education. 

Teachers in OUSD with 10 years of experience and 60 graduate or professional development credits earned, made about $71,000 during the 2021-2022 school year. Teachers at that level around Alameda County earned from $65,000 on the low end (Mountain House Elementary Unified School District) up to about $104,000 at the top end (Hayward Unified).

Under the salary schedule defined by the previous contract, Oakland teachers reach maximum pay after 32 years of teaching and 90 additional graduate credits. During the 2021-2022 school year, these teachers with the most experience earned about $98,000—among the lowest salaries for that level of experience in Alameda County.

How OUSD salaries will compare under the new contract

For these comparisons, we took salary numbers from the OUSD salary schedule that will take effect on July 1, 2023, once the tentative labor agreement is approved, and contrasted them with the most recent data available (2021-2022) for other districts. 

Under the new salary scale, first-year teachers will earn nearly $10,000 more than they do now. The new base salary, about $63,000, places OUSD in the middle range when compared with other Alameda County teacher salaries from the 2021-2022 school year. About 35% of OUSD teachers are in their first five years, according to district data

OUSD teachers with 10 years of experience and 60 post-graduate credits currently rank near the bottom when compared with other Alameda County districts. Under the new tentative agreement, educators at this level could earn about $83,000, which is higher than five other districts. 

Under the proposed OUSD contract, teachers reach the top of the salary schedule after 24 years, instead of 32. With 24 years of experience and 90 or more graduate credits, OUSD teachers could earn $109,878. While that’s near the middle when compared with other Alameda County districts during the 2021-2022 school year, it is higher than six other school districts. 

Ashley McBride writes about education equity for The Oaklandside. Her work covers Oakland’s public district and charter schools. Before joining The Oaklandside in 2020, Ashley was a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and the San Francisco Chronicle as a Hearst Journalism Fellow, and has held positions at the Poynter Institute and the Palm Beach Post. Ashley earned her master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.