Cori Zaragoza | Contibuting Writer
The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) Annual State of the District Address was held on Tuesday, November 17 and honored Mayor-Elect Todd Gloria as its VIP Guest. Todd Gloria, in his first public speech as the Mayor-Elect, first addressed the SDUSD and its students directly on the impacts of COVID-19. The pandemic placed a spotlight on faults in the school district, revealing that it’s most underserved communities had no access to the internet, personal support, or the technology needed for long distance learning. Addressing this, Gloria pointed out that, through voter approved bonds, over 80,000 Chromebooks have been distributed to students in need. Additionally, Cox Communications provided free wi-fi and hot spots to families without internet, enabling them to continue learning from home.
The most urgent need that the pandemic revealed, however, was the problem of food insecurity among students and their families. “[There were] more than 7 million meals passed out by San Diego Unified food services, in partnership with Feeding San Diego and the San Diego Food Bank,” Gloria said.
Lastly, he stated that UC San Diego Health will begin providing testing for students and school employees. “This type of collaboration illustrates the absolute best of our city and the importance of coming together to tackle big problems,” he said. Addressing San Diego students, Gloria stated that he is a “proud product of San Diego Unified”, attending Hawthorne Elementary School and graduating from Madison High School.
“When I was 10 years old, while attending Hawthorne Elementary, I was a runner up in the Mayor For a Day contest. Little did I know that many, many years later I would become the actual elected mayor of the city,” Gloria noted, while expressing his surprise at the fact that he is the first openly gay man and first person of color to ever hold the San Diego mayoral office. On this he says, “I hope this accomplishment is a signal to all our students, particularly our students of color and our LGBT youth, that there is a place for you here in this city, if you work hard.”
Concluding his first speech as Mayor-Elect, Garcia acknowledged that, “although the pandemic is not over, and that we will surely face additional obstacles in the months ahead, I know that San Diegans will step up and do whatever it takes to ensure that our students are not left behind.” While he offered no new solutions on how to move San Diego students forward, and the future of COVID-19 is still unknown, the Mayor-Elect nevertheless is optimistic.