San Dieguito Union High School District offices
San Dieguito Union High School District offices in Encinitas. Courtesy of the district

By SDUHSD Teachers

As teachers, we’ve dedicated our lives to educating students. We did this before the pandemic, and with diligence and many extra hours of work, we pivoted to do this with distance learning.

We continue to execute on this mission every day. Our school surveys prove this out: while the skyrocketing COVID-19 rates restrain us from the normalcy we all crave, CoVitality surveys at our high schools show that overall life satisfaction for the majority of students is in the high average range.

But misleading voices are saying otherwise. Michael Allman, newly elected trustee of the San Dieguito Union School District, has painted teachers unions as selfish special-interest groups, going so far as to write on Facebook, “I’ve dealt with unions before…and know what it’s like to be in the hot seat when they start lying and bullying and pulling other dirty tricks.”

This characterization of unions, and especially ours — the San Dieguito Faculty Association (SDFA) — is offensive and inappropriate. SDUHSD is the top-ranked district in the county, and our high schools are ranked among the top in the entire state — not something that could have been achieved by teachers “lying,” “bullying,” or “pulling other dirty tricks.”

Allman is a self-described foe of “proposed socialist policies that promise free education” and ran on the platform of reopening schools, a campaign largely run through a censored and closed private Facebook group where he and others have harassed our teachers, principals, and staff by promoting false and misleading narratives. He concluded one of his recent Facebook posts with “boo on the union.”

Membership in the SDFA is voluntary, not compulsory, and the actions of our association are approved by us — local individual, certificated professionals (teachers and counselors). We are your neighbors and friends. Our children play sports and attend school alongside yours.

We teach students, we run the Envision Conservatory at Canyon Crest Academy, the AVID program at San Dieguito Academy, the International Baccalaureate Program at La Costa Canyon High School, and much more. We are acclaimed and award-winning professionals who are asked to serve on statewide and national curriculum panels and committees. One of us won the 2019 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, an honor bestowed on only 107 teachers in the United States.

To illustrate our teaching effectiveness this semester, using a learning model we developed over the summer:

  • Our district-wide student attrition rates are similar to prior years
  • Our student test scores are similar to past years
  • Our “on track to graduate” rates range from 97% to 99%
  • Our Distance Learning attendance rates are upwards of 93%
  • The number of students signed up to take AP exams have increased by hundreds of students.

We believe that these increases show that students feel they are well prepared in the distance learning model and are confident in their ability to do well on these challenging exams.

There are still, as there always are, struggling students. Principals and teachers have developed interventions to assist those students, many of whom are already on our campuses.

Our faculty association, in partnership with the California Teachers Association, filed a lawsuit against the district as a last resort to enjoin the district from a premature return to campus while we are in the purple tier. We did not cause the pandemic, and we do not decide which students return to their campuses. But we do expect our board of trustees and superintendent to follow the laws of California to protect the public health.

Please stop recklessly and baselessly insulting us, our faculty association, and our professions. Please stop cyberbullying and harassing us on social media and spreading the false narrative that a majority of students are “falling through the cracks.”

Please stop the surprise announcements of unvetted plans and unpredictability, which create stress and confusion. Please be thoughtful in making plans with stakeholders, including teachers and site administrators. Please communicate and listen to sincere feedback.

We still have not seen in writing the work-from-home accommodations Allman and his surrogates keep insisting we are entitled to, such as those stated by him on Facebook: “The District has plans to provide accommodations for teachers who have medical issues, or have family members at risk, or suffer from anxiety, or have child care issues. These teachers could teach from home as they do today…”

Like many of you, teachers want more than anything a return to normalcy. This has been, for most of us, the hardest year of our professional and personal lives. We have worked tirelessly, learned new strategies for teaching online, converted our homes into teaching studios at our own expense, and done our very best every day to do what we love: teach our students.

We support SDUHSD administration’s efforts to provide safe campus access for the students who need it most and for sports and extracurricular activities. A mass school reopening during the worst surge of the pandemic — with a new, more contagious variant now in San Diego – without adequate safety protocols, endangers everyone.

We would like to work as partners, collaborating with the district to provide the best education for our students. Please stop vilifying us – we will accomplish more by working together.

The undersigned educators represent every single one of our ten school sites and communities throughout San Diego County including Carlsbad, Carmel Valley, Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, Ramona, Rancho Penasquitos, San Diego, San Marcos, Valley Center, and Vista.

Amy Olson (2020 San Dieguito Union High School District Teacher of the Year), Rob Ross, Bryn Faris, Victoria Sanchez, Michelle Horsley, Lynn Leahy, Hedieh Naraghi, Cheryl Yoshida, Erica Williams, Connor Nessler, Heidi Robson, Tracy McCabe, Amy Carlin, Suzanne Brown, Lori Meyer, Katie Martinez, Ryan Guista, Haley MacKenzie, Erin Charnow, Erika Wanczuk, Nicole Housen, Silvia Wiedmann, Hannah Reed, Marsha Rushing, Brooke O’Neill, Megan Ratliff, Lucia Frake, Mark Brudney, Mario Flores, J. Denyes, Renee Sowers, Julie Bassler, Alison Tickle, Craig Williams, Geoff Westermeyer, Adam Latham, Emily Clark, David Main, Mike Wahlstrom, Carol Eliel, Jason Sowers, Tania Kim, Jasmine Styles, Lily Bolig, Melissa Shayegan, Kerri Leonard, Kelly Baggins, Sheryl Bode, Yoshi LeaVesseur, Debra Abrahamson, Michael Godebu, Ann Cerny, Jenny Oehler, Steven Ruecker, Diane Dekker, Kelli Noonan, Cecily Wheeler, Melissa Griffen, Samantha Thacker, Cindy Honselaar, Duncan Brown, Matt McCollough, Stephanie Lewis, Don Collins, Matt Livingston, Marinee Payne, Nikki Asbury, Julianna Newell, Denise Hutagalung, Jessica Huntsberger, Matt Chess, Sara Boozer, Christopher Black, Amy Villanova, Timothy Stiven, Kate Dickinson, Jessi Mortensen, Mark VanOver, Tracy Yates, Lars Trupe.