The Teachers Union Is The Problem In Los Angeles Unified


Anyone concerned about the state of K-12 public education in Los Angeles should consider that the problems start with the teacher union.

Last week, United Teachers of Los Angeles members skipped class for three days to join someone else’s picket line, once again blocking LAUSD’s 420,000 students from the classroom.

UTLA and its sympathizers make it seem noble: Teachers are merely engaging in a “solidarity strike” with SEIU Local 99, whose members include district support staff simply seeking a raise.

After all, they say, the average support staffer – including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors – only makes $25,000 a year.

That’s “poverty wages,” Congressman Adam Schiff told the Los Angeles Times.

Never mind that 75% of the support staff are only part time. Forget that they work only 180 days each year. And ignore the fact that already turned down a massive 23% raise.

That’s not really the point.

The support staff probably should get a raise. But should it be achieved on the backs of students by saddling them with more learning loss?

It’s telling that UTLA members, also known as teachers, are siding with part-time bus drivers over students. But UTLA sees itself as an activist group, first and foremost.

UTLA’s website features prominently a woman at a picket line yelling into a bullhorn with some placard strapped to her chest. In fact, you have to scroll through several more similar pictures before you ever see anything that resembles educating.

With an activist-first mentality, it’s unsurprising UTLA’s president doesn’t believe in learning loss, which she told Los Angeles Magazine in 2021 as she and her union were pushing to keep students out of classrooms. Instead, Cecily Myart-Cruz thinks learning loss is a “fake crisis marketed by shadowy purveyors of clinical and classroom assessments.”

Well, that explains why the vast majority of LAUSD students can’t read or do math adequately. It’s a conspiracy!

Back in reality, Myart-Cruz is of course merely trying to dodge taking responsibility. Considering UTLA went on a six-day strike not too long ago and demanded classrooms be shut down for much of COVID, Myart-Cruz’s attitude suggests a disappointing indifference toward the value of students being in school.

But that’s the difference between educators and activists.

“Shutting down the city’s schools three times since 2019 – including the nation’s longest pandemic-related school closures – reveals UTLA has no actual interest in children or education,” California Policy Center President Will Swaim said.

“And make no mistake: UTLA has joined this sympathy strike expecting SEIU to return the favor later this year, when the teachers union plans to shut down classrooms again,” Swaim added.

Ironically, three days is the same amount of time by which students are deemed truant. Maybe UTLA’s members should be held to the same standard, as this absence hardly seems excused.

UTLA’s dubious decision to strike cast confusion far and wide.

Parents were wondering what to do with their kids for three days and why UTLA was allowed to use official school data, like parental contact information, to email parents asking for their support for the strike. In a private, members-only group chat — screenshots of which were provided to the Register by California Policy Center — teachers expressed confusion over the official reason for the strike and why it was happening without a vote of the membership.

UTLA leadership was apparently confused as well. SEIU said it was striking over pay and alleging unfair labor practices by the school district, but Myart-Cruz “didn’t know the specifics of the labor violations Local 99 was alleging,” wrote The Wall Street Journal.

It’s worth noting that UTLA is also in negotiations with the school district. Besides better compensation, UTLA is demanding, among many other things, the school district turn unused school property into housing for students.

This is of course a ridiculous ask. Logistically it would be challenging to implement in a district that can’t educate the majority of its children. But mostly it’s just a way for UTLA to continue waging a war against charter schools, which might use available space for actual educating.

LAUSD parents should seriously ask if they expect teachers in classrooms or out playing dress-up revolutionaries.

Follow Matt on Twitter @FlemingWords


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