The Seattle Times had an interesting story recently about a Silicon Valley school district’s efforts to keep school teachers working in the district.
The teachers are leaving because they can’t afford the rising rents. So, rather than pay them more, the school district is asking parents of children in the school district to let teachers live in their houses at below-market rate.
My first reaction was how it fit into stereotypes I grew up with as a school kid in the 1950s. In those days, all grade-school teachers were expected to be single women barely making ends meet on their teacher’s pay until they could find a husband to support them. Why wouldn’t any parent want a single woman living in their house so that their children can continue to get an education (but just until she could find a husband). Of course, it was unreasonable to expect the school district to pay them more so they could rent in the housing market. Taxes would go through the roof.
My mother’s mother was an example of one such woman in my own family. She grew up and was educated in England, ended up immigrating to the United States with her father and started teaching school in Ohio. She taught until my grandfather somehow met her, swept her off her feet — as they would say in those days — and married her and spirited her off to a farm plot in the middle of Golly-forsaken South Dakota. That’s where she learned to wring chickens’ necks and what all else that farmer’s wives do and never had to teach another day in her life, except lessons here and there for her own four daughters who eventually joined the farm.
Given how common that story was, it never made sense to pay teachers much. To school administrators, the teachers they had were almost all going to be temporary. Why raise their pay when they’re going to bog off to a farm in South Dakota as soon as a handsome farmer offers them a chance to raise chickens and pigs and milk cows with him? She could even retire from cow milking if she had children. My mother eventually got that job.
Television shows in the 1950s and 1960s frequently featured schoolteacher characters who eventually got married off. Remember Helen Crump’s marriage to Sheriff Andy Taylor? We all knew he would marry her someday, even though she couldn’t cook beans.
The second thing the story did was made me wonder about all the people living in that school district who were not fortunate enough to have become school teachers there but are also underpaid and can’t afford their rents. Including, I imagine, a lot of the parents of the schoolkids in the district.
This is Silicon Valley we’re talking about. There are rich corporations in the area, so there should be no shortage of tax money to fund affordable housing and pay teachers what they’re worth.
When some of these parents renting to teachers can’t afford their own rents anymore, the school district should plead with richer parents to offer low-rent deals to the poorer parents and their teacher tenants. Thus, they will begin the sort of infinite regression so popular in Ponzi schemes. Everyone could have a nice, cheap place to live until they can marry a strong, handsome farmer.
In other news, Trump came out and said that he’ll pardon everyone who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, if he’s elected in 2024. Now it’s official: A vote for Trump in 2024 will be a vote for insurrection and the end of U.S. democracy. A vote for him in 2024 will be a vote for all-out civil war and the dismantling of congressional authority to check the executive branch. We could all say goodbye to the Constitution then.
I really didn’t see this coming. My biggest regret now is not emigrating to New Zealand back in the 1980s when I still was young enough and had a career they’d appreciate there.
“Sure,” they would have said, “we can’t get enough math teachers. Maybe you could find yourself a nice Kiwi wife, and she’ll take you to meet her sheep and her sheep dogs.” And I would have lived happily ever after with her, her sheep and her sheep dogs until I died happy 40 years later, with never a thought about Trump.
Read more of the Sept. 7-13, 2022 issue.