LAUSD Teachers: Dancing on the Grave of Public Education

LAUSD Teachers: Dancing on the Grave of Public Education
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Los Angeles public schools kept their doors closed to students longer than almost any other school district in the nation. When they reopened, they forced children into a mask mandate that did not end until March of 2022. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is also still trying to force a COVID vaccine mandate. A judge has struck down the legality of the mandate, but the district is still searching for workarounds (the California legislature is looking to enforce it by law). The mandate has so far been postponed to July of 2023.

Not satisfied with the shocking amount of damage they’ve done to students and parents in the public system over the last three years, the teachers union – United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) – is in the midst of a three-day strike right now in the City of Angels. They are joining their union counterparts at SEIU as those workers protest for more pay and benefits, claiming COVID has added more stress and degrading conditions to their employment burden.

While the district has received over $2 billion in COVID funding from the federal government, they have yet to spend those funds. They have until 2024 to decide how they should be used. In the meantime, the district continues to sit on the funds while simultaneously operating on a $20 billion annual budget. The district was even bold enough to explain they plan to use these funds to support staff and facility needs, and still, the SEIU and UTLA are striking.

It exemplifies the very definitions of greed and selfishness.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest in the nation, provided data showing it plans to spend $1.7 billion on strategies to address lost instructional time, including technological devices and internet access for students. Another $407 million has been set aside for resources that enhance continual and safe in-person learning, such as custodial staffing, Covid testing and personal protective equipment.

What are parents and students doing while their district employees sit on a giant mountain of money and refuse to do their jobs until they get more? They’re enduring continued learning losses and struggles to find child care and educational alternatives, even as teachers literally dance in the streets of Los Angeles instead of teaching.

This list of gross offenses coming out of the union sector continues to grow. The UTLA strike is just another slap in the face to hard-working parents and taxpayers. The teachers union’s blatant greed is a vile reminder that while individual teachers may genuinely love serving their students, their union is literally working against their students. They are laughing and dancing while parents worry about the future of their children, and the present, for that matter.

Those parents don’t have the luxury of getting paid to not work as the LAUSD union employees do. They don’t have the luxury of having a party to demand more money for less work. Ultimately, many of them will have to lose money as they must choose between staying home to care for their children who should be at school or paying for child care to cover the closure of a school their tax dollars have already paid to be open at the moment.

LAUSD students in particular have suffered heavy learning losses. High schoolers are severely off federal standards for graduation tracks, reading levels have plummeted, and statewide math scores are a dismal 33 percent compared to the national average. California public education students are being let down miserably by their teachers and yet the unions continue to ask for more money, using horrible outcomes as their reasoning.

Teachers might say there are extenuating circumstances that make teaching much more difficult these days. They are probably right, but none of that is the fault of taxpayers or parents, and especially not students. Taxpayers have bent over backward to accommodate every desire of the unions but there has not been a single shred of evidence that any of their fulfilled demands have led to improved outcomes. Quite the opposite. Public education has only ever gotten worse in the state of California and particularly in Los Angeles.

The union’s job is to work on behalf of the teachers. Not only have they failed to improve teaching conditions in the district, they continue to actively work against the interests of students, which in turn only makes the jobs of good teachers more difficult.

The silver lining of COVID is that the mask has been ripped off the union face and many gullible Americans who still believed their public teachers were on their side got to see the reality of the situation. It has led to a massive shift in school board elections and governance and some state legislatures are responding by working up protections for parents and students. In a city like Los Angeles, a city fully seized and run by union interests, it is hard to imagine the public school system can resist the spiral their teachers’ union has thrust them into.

So, as parents struggle to raise their families and students struggle to learn the basics of math and reading, their teachers continue to dance in the streets and dance on the grave of their public education.

That’s easy to do when you never have to face the music.

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