UTLA Strike: The Bad Reviews Just Keep Coming Part 1

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Larry Sand’s commentary on the strikingly bad UTLA strike, which, in the planning stage for months, was a victory in no one’s eyes except Alex Caputo-Pearl.

Like a much-ballyhooed but awful Broadway show, the Los Angeles teachers’ strike had a six-day run and no one was happy with it. Except maybe the producers. In fact, United Teachers of Los Angeles leader Alex Caputo-Pearl called the new contract with the Los Angeles Unified School District “historic.” However, not all concerned shared Caputo-Pearl’s glee. Some used terms like “meh” and “horrible,” while many others used words that I cannot repeat in a family friendly blog.

On the plus side, the union did secure the hiring of 300 nurses, 82 librarians, and 17 counselors by 2020. But as the Wall Street Journal points out, the district had offered to add 1,300 teaching and support positions prior to the strike, so file this in the “meh” column. Also, as parent advocate organization Speak UP claims, LAUSD has been unable to fill 40 open nurse positions for which it already has funding.

Now for the rotten tomatoes. Many teachers hated the contract they ended up with. The union could have accepted the pay offer that they ultimately got without striking. The union leadership failed miserably here. While teachers gained two 3 percent raises, this year’s raise will be negated, as they won’t get paid for the time they missed while on strike. The rancorous class-size issue was pretty much a nothing burger. The new contract stipulates that in grades 4 through 12 class-size would be reduced by one student in each of the next two years and by two more students in 2021-22. A teacher on Facebook went ballistic when she read this, sarcastically claiming how much better she’d be able to sleep knowing that her class size would go from 28 to 27 next year. In fact, the UTLA Facebook page was home to teacher rage, including many educators who would have voted against the new contract had the window to cast their ballot not been so short. California Policy Center CEO Mark Bucher documents many of the teachers’ gripes here.

It’s not only teachers who gave the UTLA play a thumbs-down, but many parents are furious too. The contract includes a stipulation that will force a board resolution, which calls on the state to cap the number of new charter schools until an impact study is done. The ultimate UTLA goal is to set a cap on charters, which provide an outlet for mostly poor and minority parents to escape the failing schools that the union oversees. In other words, don’t try to do better than your competition; instead do everything you can to kill it. Moreover, as California Charter Schools Association CEO Myrna Castrejón insists, a charter school cap will do almost nothing to solve the district’s financial problems.

Continued on Monday, February 4.