Schools, students and achievement scores all suffer when there is too much teacher turnover. Both teachers and students benefit when teachers can live in the communities they serve. Schools thrive when there is a strong community that both teachers and families are a part of. When teachers have long commutes, they are simply not at school as much, and not as involved in the life of the school community. Teachers that are invested in the town and community in which they teach enrich the students' lives and education in ways that can only be done if they live close by.
At this point, housing consumes a large percentage of a new teacher's income. Teachers can be let go for no expressed reason for the first two years in a district, so it is unlikely that a new teacher will look for permanent housing right away. Rentals are likely the only thing that is affordable and that does not require a long-term commitment.
Right now, thanks to Measure V, there is some assurance for a new teacher that her or his rent will not skyrocket in the coming year or two. Rent control prevents gouging and abuses by landlords, and reassures teachers that they will, in fact, be able to continue to pay their rent for the coming few years. Prospective teachers who fear that they will not be able to continue to pay their rent are likely to look elsewhere for employment. At this time, teaching jobs are available everywhere. There is no shortage of prospective jobs.
In teaching, income only goes up so fast. There is a static schedule for raises based on years taught and education. The periodic raises that the district can afford do not keep up with the rising cost of housing in this area. Teachers should not have to worry that their rent will skyrocket or that they will not have a place to live. The traditional idea that teachers must have a spouse in high tech or with a high salary is now obsolete.
Finally, housing values are tied to the quality of schools. Mountain View is proud of its schools, as it should be. If older teachers retire and younger teachers cannot find affordable places to live, however, the quality will suffer.
There is a petition circulating to change Measure V. Although many of the paid signature gatherers falsely claim that this will improve conditions for renters (as recently mentioned in a Mountain View Voice article), the truth is that the clause that states that rent protection provisions will be null and void if the occupancy rate goes above 3 percent negates any positives this might have. Mountain View rents are not below 3 percent now, and have not been for many years. If people signed that petition under false understandings, they may retract that signature.
We all care about schools. Their quality affects everyone, even people like me whose own children are grown. Schools are a bedrock of a community. Maintaining the reasonable provisions of Measure V is one way to ensure that our schools will maintain the high quality of teachers to which we have become accustomed.
Bonnie Malouf is a Mountain View resident and former Mountain View Whisman School District teacher who currently teaches at Discovery Charter School in San Jose.
This story contains 651 words.
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