My daughter is one of the more than 1,500 members that are scheduled to lose their jobs on June 30. She is an exemplary teacher who has been nominated as Teacher of the Year. She attended a San Diego Unified School District meeting last week where everyone was told that all pink-slipped employees will be terminated at the end of June and they will lose any and all benefits, including health insurance. The COBRA monthly payment information provided is prohibitive for an unemployed teacher. Even if there are rehires during the summer, benefits start at square one and won’t kick in until the probationary periods end.

The emotional toll of not knowing if you will be able to make a living, do what you love to do, influence in such a positive manner the lives of young people, the critical loss of health insurance and the inability to provide for your family truly creates havoc in the lives of people dedicated to education. What a heartbreaking situation that these caring, committed and hard working professionals find themselves in.

I am a teacher who has been/still is working in the classroom for more than 30 years. I have always supported unions and know that much of the American way of life has been made possible by collective bargaining. I deeply appreciate and respect that the quality of our own lives and standard of living we enjoy today is due to the hard work done by unions.

As teachers, we strive to instill in our students important American values about themselves and our communities. We teach our students about compromise, being reasonable, looking at the greater good, rational thinking, the art of compromise and looking beyond the short term and considering the long term.

These are unique and unprecedented times that required unprecedented cooperation. The old rules and rigidity need to give way to common sense and a shared sense of purpose. This financial situation is all too real — not just in San Diego, or California, or the United States, but globally as well. No-one can afford to minimize the severity of the situation.

Right now, all parties are perched upon an unstable and teetering cliff. Both the San Diego Education Association and the San Diego Unified School District need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Compromise on all sides is the only rational path to survive this fiscal and human nightmare.

The district must honestly and truthfully negotiate with accurate facts/figures. With a shared belief and commitment to resolve this without laying off more than 1,500 valuable employees, compromise is the only logical solution. Without it, the critical nature of this monetary crisis and the enormous negative, intended and unintended consequences will leave long-term destruction in its wake — for students, parents, teachers, the district and the educational future of our city.

There is no choice but to compromise to save jobs, save the schools and protect educational integrity. This crisis will eventually end but for now, compromise and working together in good faith is the only choice. Making necessary short-term concessions, and they will be short-term because things will eventually get better, in order to save all those jobs, is the only option to keep the school running without enormous overcrowding.

We all need to be able to teach in an effective, not untenable environment. What is negotiated now can be renegotiated when the economy rebounds and life and the economy stabilizes. It preserves the present and will create a better future for all parties.

We remind our students when situations appear overwhelming that anything is possible if we commit to the hard work to do whatever is necessary to make it happen. That is what I am asking, actually, pleading for. The clock is approaching the midnight hour and the time for action is NOW.

I, as are all the families of the pink-slipped teachers, their students, and everyone who are committed to resolving this human and fiscal crisis, wish you the best in finding a fair, equitable and speedy solution prior to the June 30 deadline.

We are all counting on you to do what is necessary to save our teachers and thereby save the students.

If that doesn’t happen and people are not willing to look to the greater good, we all lose!

Correction: The name of the author of this piece has been changed to reflect the author’s real name. We were unaware that the original name the writer gave us was not her real name.


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Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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