SDUSD’s Measure U is so ironic it’s painful

When one thinks of the most influential individuals in their life, more often than not a teacher will come to mind. Maybe the first-grade teacher who showed you the magic of books and the power of words. Or the teacher in high school that helped you through a panic attack and dried your tears.

Teachers hold immense responsibility. They have the power to inspire intellectual curiosity in young minds. They mold brilliant scientists, climate change activists, innovators and above all, good and kind people.

Again and again teachers have proven themselves to be the backbone of society. And yet, they continue to be grossly mistreated and undervalued.

This ill-treatment is glaringly apparent in the outrageously low wages teachers receive. This has become such a drastic issue that many districts in expensive areas of San Diego are seeing high rates of outward transferal because many teachers cannot afford to pay escalated rent with their current salaries. According to Zillow, the median yearly rent in San Diego is around $31,000 for a one-bedroom unit. Meanwhile, according to the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), the average yearly pay for teachers is around $88,000, meaning that even comparatively higher-paid teachers spend more than a third of their income on their living space.

In an effort to combat this issue, in October of 2022, SDUSD passed a $3.2 billion bond, Measure U, in which $206 million would be allocated for the building of affordable housing for teachers on school-owned land. This bond, like all other local school bonds, is a measure voted on by citizens that allows school districts to borrow money that they can pay off by levying local property taxes.

While at first glance this may seem like a beneficial action for teachers, in fact, it is unabashedly a slap in the face. Its irony is so painful it is almost laughable, akin to something out of an SNL skit.

Rather than raising the salaries of teachers so that they can be part of the communities they serve, the government sits by and does nothing, leaving districts to scrap for any measures they can pass to combat the housing crisis gripping their teachers.

Measures like these do not address the root of the dilemma, but at least the districts are trying. One cannot say the same for the state and federal governments.

Why can SDUSD voters, who are already paying a multitude of taxes, spare another fee for the betterment of public education, when the government for some reason cannot? Why is the brunt of support towards the public education system falling on taxpayers rather than the federal government that spends $1.9 trillion dollars annually on its military?

Yet the passing of this measure does not come as a shock. The government consistently neglects teachers and the integral role they play in society because they do not produce concrete profits.

However, teachers are the building blocks upon which every profession stands. Teachers care about the world, they care about the ideas and dreams of our society’s youth.

So why is it that we do not reciprocate this care? Why does the government not show how much we need our teachers? Why have we reached the point where we are desensitized to something like the passing of this bond, a desperate measure that SDUSD had to resort to because the government refuses to help? Teachers do not deserve this. They deserve the utmost respect. We owe everything to our teachers, and it is about time for us to pay them back.

Read on Issuu.

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