Transparent California stirs controversy

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    Transparent California is a website that displays teachers’ salaries and their job information publicly for anyone to see. Many people are concerned about whether this is an invasion of privacy and question whether these kinds of sensitive information should be protected.

    Because being a teacher at a public school is a government job, the general population reserves the right to view this information.

    “It’s the taxpayers’ money so it’s our right to know where the money is going,” says sophomore Seattle Hmelar.

    In addition to being a responsibility of showing this demographic, government officials working for the public and the availability of Transparent California can prevent waste, abuse, and fraud. The website also publishes meetings and decisions of school district policies to make sure the public is informed about its goals and future plans.

    According to the California Public Records Act, signed in 1968, the Legislature “finds and declares that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.”  

    “Any job paid by tax dollars should include salary information available to taxpayers because government jobs are a public service and people have the right to know,” says chemistry teacher Alicia Szebert.

    A popular study conducted by Forbes also shows that sharing salaries among coworkers prevents the exploitation of people who work similar jobs and also encourages employees to negotiate for fair pay.

    Students we spoke with tended to agree that having Transparent California as a resource for both parents and teachers is completely justified and can prove to be valuable information for new teachers. This resource is definitely a good tool to help minimize the pay gap between women and men and should be open to be viewed by everybody.

    “I think it’s fair and I don’t really see any harm in showing this online,” says sophomore Maurice Wang.

    The common claim of sharing salary information can create a competitive environment and cause more disagreements among the employees but in an environment like Palo Alto High School, this site should only help out the teachers and become a tool that can help people accurately and fairly judge this concern.

    The National Labor Relations Act has protected these personal information from workers excluding government employees since 1935 but this act allows certain workers to be paid less and leaves them unaware of the issue concerning the wage gap. Recently, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commissions has proposed for large employers to release their pay data. When employees learn of salary figures being shared around, they should consider this an opportunity to review with the school district and ask how their compensation systems works.

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