Newly elected Kern High School District trustees Cynthia Brakeman and Janice Graves — both retired teachers — were sworn in at Monday’s board meeting — the same meeting the president of the Kern High School Teachers Association advocated for an increase in teachers’ pay.
In front of the new board, Vicky Shoenhair, the president of the teachers association, congratulated the new board members on their election victories.
Both Graves and Brakeman saw a flood of contributions from the Kern High Teachers Association during their campaigns. The Friends of Brakeman for KHSD Trustee 2018 political action committee accrued $51,000 to fuel Brakeman’s campaign against former board member Mike Williams.
Shoenhair talked about how hard teachers work to help students succeed. But despite the effort of educators, teachers don’t feel appreciated, said Shoenhair.
“Educators here tonight and at home don’t feel the love,” she said in a room full of teacher supporters holding up signs advocating for an increase in pay. “I believe that teachers are the cornerstone of everything we do in this nation. That’s what makes it hard to understand why the district does not value or work.”
Teachers would feel appreciated if they saw a bigger increase in their salary, said Shoenhair. The two percent salary increase is not enough to feel valued, according to Shoenhair.
“This is not acceptable to us,” said Shoenhair, who seldom speaks at board meetings. “We should be rewarding our employees better than anyone else.”
One of Graves’ priorities for her time on the board is to make teachers feel appreciated, she told South Kern Sol in November.
“Teachers count, and teachers are very important, as are the certificated staff,” Graves said last month. “We don’t celebrate the successes of teachers and classified staff enough.”
Graves showed much support for teachers at the meeting.
“Thank you to all you teachers and those who support Cynthia and me,” Graves said at the meeting. “Thank you for everything you do for all our students. Thanks for all your sacrifices that you give up to the district.”
This story was made possible with a grant from California Humanities, in partnership with the Bakersfield College Foundation and Virginia and Alfred Harrell Foundation.