Thursday, April 10, 2008 | When the new grandiose Lincoln High opened to students this year, it attracted too many students. It also attracted a young teacher from Chula Vista, Guillermo Gomez.
I met Gomez at the teacher’s lounge during lunch at Lincoln High recently. Gomez and his colleagues were planning marches and various ways to get their students to express their displeasure with proposed school budget cuts around the state — cuts that, if fully implemented as proposed, would mean 913 school teachers would be laid off districtwide.
Gomez would be one of them. A year and a half ago, dressed in black formal wear and smiling, the young teacher accepted one of the four awards given each year to the “teachers of the year” in the county. He had been a teacher for 10 years at Vista Square Elementary School in Chula Vista.
Despite his success, the opportunity to teach at Lincoln High School’s new School of Social Justice intrigued him, and Gomez moved not only into a classroom with older kids but into a new school district — San Diego Unified. He says he took a $10,000 pay cut for the chance to teach at Lincoln.
No doubt, Lincoln is an attractive place. There are tennis courts on top of the parking garage and each classroom has a state-of-the-art multimedia system. The executive principal, Mel Collins, strides around the campus barking instructions at security personnel and haranguing loiterers unsure, or unwilling to say, where they’re supposed to be.
At the old Lincoln, Collins said, a group of three young men, chatting and looking out over the baseball field during class time would have been overlooked, if seen at all. Not anymore, he says. In 15 minutes, I saw the principal dress down three security guards — one for sitting down.