I am a member of the San Diego Education Association and have been teaching in San Diego Unified School District for 20 years. I am disappointed with the stand our union leadership has taken regarding the current budget crisis. Without strong public support, our schools will suffer. For example, we need a majority of California voters to approve the governor’s tax increase proposal in November. It just isn’t smart for our union to insist that the district follow through on all of the pie-in-the-sky promises it made to us for the next year of our contract, no matter what. Circumstances change.

SDEA needs to make decisions that will strengthen public schools for the long term. That must include an emphasis on maintaining and increasing the quality of education. By making such decisions, we will help convince more voters that public schools deserve their support. To say that our raise is non-negotiable, standing by while hundreds of our fellow teachers and other staff are downsized and the quality of instruction is necessarily compromised, is irresponsible and short-sighted. We didn’t create this crisis, but our actions will play a major role in either helping to resolve it or exacerbate it.

Joe Wainio is a member of the San Diego Education Association.

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