By Dawn Collier
As if Los Angeles families need another example of how the local teachers union couldn’t care less about students, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) held rallies across L.A. County this week as a prelude to a possible strike, demanding smaller class sizes, reduced caseloads for school counselors, and that schools hire more elementary school librarians. Oh, and in addition to all that window dressing, they also want a 20 percent pay raise for teachers.
“UTLA does not care about children or their academic needs,” said Lance Christensen, California Policy Center’s Vice President of Education Policy and Government Affairs. “If they did, they wouldn’t be threatening to walk out on hundreds of thousands of kids still struggling to make up the learning loss from the school closures UTLA demanded.”
It’s hard to imagine UTLA, which represents teachers in the nation’s second-largest school district, having the gall to demand more money when Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is facing a trifecta of crises made infinitely worse by UTLA’s insistence on keeping schools closed far longer than necessary during the pandemic:
- Enrollment in LAUSD schools has dropped from a high of 738,000 students in 2002 to just over 422,000 in 2022. During the pandemic, many families left LAUSD for charter schools that reopened quickly or chose to homeschool their kids, and other families just gave up on L.A. and moved out of state.
- Chronic student absenteeism is at an all-time high. A staggering 50,000 LAUSD students didn’t show up for the first day of school this year.
- Student test scores released in October show that 71.5 percent of LAUSD students can’t meet basic math standards and more than half don’t meet English Language Arts standards.
All this while the district spends an average of $30,514 per student this year. In a class of 25 students, that’s more than three quarters of a million dollars per classroom and yet LAUSD students are tragically behind their peers academically at public charter schools and many private schools that spend far less per pupil.
This is the same union, by the way, that denied students suffered any learning loss during the pandemic and then threatened to boycott the extra “acceleration” days the district planned to help students catch up.
In any other profession, if you were failing this badly you’d be fired, but UTLA is shamelessly asking for massive raises. Why?
UTLA says LAUSD is sitting on $3.4 billion in its reserves — and the union wants a piece of it. Never mind that much of that money is from one-time COVID funding sources and is not sufficient to cover a massive multi-year pay hike for teachers. Never mind that the district has a $16.4 billion unrestricted net deficit. And never mind that we’re in a recession and the economy is not expected to bounce back anytime soon.
It’s all par for the course at this point. UTLA makes outrageous demands, unleashes a well-coordinated blitz of protest rallies that garner predictable sympathetic media coverage for “underpaid teachers,” and the district caves to union demands. Is this charade ever going to end?
Yes, if parents push back, the media does its job, and our best teachers say “no more” to UTLA’s dirty tricks.
“There are many teachers in LAUSD who care about their students and are horrified by UTLA’s antics,” Christensen said. “For those teachers who simply want to teach, we encourage you to quit your union as allowed under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus decision.”
“You will save more than your sanity and the thousands of dollars you’re paying in dues annually. You’ll help save the futures of countless students who are being hurt year after year by the teachers unions’ exploitation of students and the system.”
To learn more about how to leave your union, visit mypaymysay.com.