One of the most horrific milestones for any child is the moment they spot their teacher outside the classroom, forever shattering the illusion that they don’t all just live at school. Unfortunately, for some unlucky kids in Milpitas Unified School District, they may be forced to learn that teachers exist outside the classroom by said teachers fully moving in with them.
The school district recently sent out this Google form to parents asking if they had rooms available to rent for MUSD educators. Rising real estate prices in the Bay Area county have pushed out teachers, who aren’t being paid enough to afford living in the districts where they work.
Teachers in Milpitas make between $67,000 and $112,000 annually, depending on their credentials and experience, which puts them below the average 2020 census recorded household income of $137,000. A household of two beginning teachers would still fall short. Neighboring areas like San Jose are just as cost-prohibitive. A studio apartment in Milpitas averages above $2000 per month, with 2-bedrooms nearing $3000, according to RentData.org.
MUSD Superintendent Cheryl Jordan told NBC Bay Area that the district has “lost out on some employees that we tried to recruit because once they see how much it costs to live here, they determine that it’s just not possible.”
Neither the Milpitas Unified School District nor the National Education Association responded to Jezebel’s request for comment.
This is a new and unique tactic in combating a growing trend of teacher shortages across the country. But, helping to find housing, while nice, doesn’t address the root issue which is that teachers salaries do not reflect how demanding the job is, nor have they been adjusted to the country’s inflation. The National Center for Education Statistics released a study earlier this year reporting 44% of public schools in the country had teaching vacancies. A Gallup poll from June 2022 indicated that K-12 workers have the highest level of burnout, nearly half, amongst other professions. Across the board, the profession seems to be headed toward crisis.
One has to wonder what the ethical implications are of families housing public school teachers? Some school districts have rules about teachers accepting gifts over a certain monetary value from students and parents. What guidelines would have to be in place for parents providing housing to teachers? I can only imagine the conundrum a teacher would be placed in disciplining a child whose parents are her landlord.
In an email to Jezebel, MUSD said that over 55 applicants have responded to the request to house teachers. The district also said they are participating in “discussions about including workforce housing with potential developers coming to Milpitas.” The form, it should be noted, briefly explains its purpose but ends with the statement, “the rest is up to you,” like a housing matchmaker. That helpless sentiment echoes what teachers and parents have been met with since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. If they want to see any betterment in their situation, it is up to them.
This piece has been updated to reflect the current number of applicants MUSD has received.