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The San Diego Education Association is proud of our 90 year history. We are a union of over 8,000 talented and dedicated professionals who chose our dedication to children as a career. We work hard to provide great schools for the children of San Diego, and we do so despite huge challenges. Whenever we see ourselves reduced to personal attacks, like Mr. Bowers’, it makes us wonder whose agenda is really at play.

Most of us in leadership, staff and hundreds members of SDEA have been working 12-18 hour days since January trying to save the jobs of 900+ educators. We still have about 200 teacher layoffs, with school starting in just over one week — and we haven’t stopped working. We didn’t choose this to be our priority, but we were put here by San Diego Unified leadership.

It’s both self-serving and false to say that the school bond for San Diego Unified is something we oppose. As we clearly stated in a letter to the Superintendent earlier this year, we have other priorities (fighting the layoffs) and would revisit our involvement once an initiative was finalized. SDEA was formally asked just today to support the bond, and our internal discussions are just beginning. Our members will decide what, if any, position we take on Proposition S.

As for concepts like “merit pay,” and “battle pay,” abhorrent is an accurate description. What proponents of merit pay are really about is “pay for test scores.” Anyone who has been forced to subject a child to the stress of high-stakes tests know what an inaccurate measure they really are. Our children are more than test scores and our work in San Diego’s classrooms simply cannot be measured by any fill-in-the-bubble test.

Differential pay for working in high-need schools or “battle pay” is an insult to our children and our profession. Paying a teacher more to work in a particular school is essentially saying that we’d rather pay teachers more to work in an unsafe, under-equipped and understaffed school than spend that money on reducing class sizes and providing a quality environment for children to learn and educators to teach.

There is a long line of misinformed people who bash our teachers unions based on presumptions and a total disconnect from what we actually do each day. Unfortunately, there is a short line of leaders in San Diego Unified who are willing to roll up their sleeves and work with us to improve conditions for our schools. We make no apologies for organizing to better the working conditions of San Diego’s educators: Our working conditions are the children’s learning environment.

—CAMILLE ZOMBRO

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