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The L.A. Teachers’ Strike Is About So Much More Than Wages

The L.A. Teachers’ Strike Is About So Much More Than Wages

Sonali Kolhatkar

Los Angeles public school teachers began a historic strike on Monday, for the first time in 30 years. Members of the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) walked out of contract negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that had dragged on for nearly two years. The specific battle is being fought over LAUSD’s refusal to tap into its record $1.86 billion reserve in order to reduce class sizes, hire more support staff, including counselors and nurses, improve infrastructure and more.

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Let me see here, implement austerity with its resultant suffering, drive the (predominantly brown) students toward private charter schools where public funds are siphoned off into the hands of a few already rich (predominantly white) “souls”, and push the envelope* at all times. Oh yes, how very Christian.

*see Betsy DeVos as Exhibit A

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What about this strike CD? How about a story??? This is from WSWS

Over 70,000 “maquiladora” workers from 45 factories in the US-Mexico border town of Matamoros, Mexico have entered the sixth day of their courageous struggle as more and more plants are paralyzed throughout the city.

Last night, thousands of workers marched through the city from factory to factory chanting “unity, unity,” “walk out! walk out!,” “the workers united will never be defeated” and “strike!” Workers stopped at each plant and appealed to workers changing shift to join their strike, greeting each new walkout with a loud round of cheers. The crowd grew throughout the night.

There is a sense in the ruling class that the strike may be getting out of control. Amid a complete media blackout, the hated trade unions are doing everything in their power to restrict the movement to “legal” union-led negotiations and to keep stoppages from spreading to more manufacturing complexes across the border area and internationally.

The strike at Matamoros has been completely ignored by the corporate media. There is not a single article about the Matamoros strike in any of the major Mexican or international news outlets. While devoting front-page news to anti-democratic maneuvers by the Democratic Party, the US-based New York Times and Washington Post, and Mexican newspapers such as El Universal and Reforma, have nothing to say about the largest strike on the North American continent in recent years.

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OMG, what Los Angeles idiot out an investment banker in charge of public schools?

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I had not heard a word. Thank you.

Oh I meant too say PUT an investment banker in that prior comment . : )

I am amazed still that PRIVATE charter schools get taxpayer money, and with such little responsibility for being a “school.” Capitalism does seem everything and often everyone into a PRODUCT. I agree with the writer that Capitalism also seems to look down upon brown people quite a bit. As I look at world history, We of the white People seem to have caused so much destruction, while the indigenous people of the world lived by sustaining. As I look at what has happened in the Los Angeles public schools since charter schools arrived, it is a travesty and waste of resources, time and minds.
Investment bankers have no place in education because MINDS are not a product and to leave students without health care and guidance and school buildings that need repair is an insult to teachers and schools everywhere.

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I think it is worthwhile to look at several points of view of a topic.
For those who can’t or won’t read the Wall Street Journal article, because it is behind a paywall, here are some excerpts from it. I did not think it was ‘sneering’. Perhaps the people who do think it was ‘sneering’ deserved to be sneered at…

The editorial starts by reminding us that California and Los Angeles are blue, governed / ruled by Democrats, with not a Republican to be seen anywhere near this subject. Other opinion pieces at other times have told us that the government in California is “owned” by the public employees.

Wall Street Journal Tuesday Jan 15 2019 page A14 ‘Unions in La-La Land’ Big text of the page “The Los Angeles teachers’ strike is a flight from reality.”
Excerpt “Despite a putative $1.8 billion reserve, the district is spending about $500 million more each year than its annual revenues, and will be broke within two years.”
Excerpt, regarding employer paid post-retirement health care for LAUSD teachers and staff, “Few governments or private employers anywhere provide this perk.”
Excerpt “But in LAUSD, superintendent Austin Beutner writes nearby, schools can’t spend money they don’t have.”… “Once higher pay and spending are in place, the union will then lean on the politicians for another tax increase via referendum in 2020. The tax-spend-tax-spend union ratchet never stops.”
Excerpt, regarding charter schools, “Only 22% of fourth graders in Los Angeles scored proficient in math on the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress compared to 31% in other large cities. A 2015 Stanford study found that students at charters in Southern California on average gained more than 50 days of learning in Math, and more than 40 days in reading each year, as their counterparts at traditional schools.”

Wall Street Journal Tuesday Jan 15 2019 page A15 ‘L.A. Schools have a Math Problem’, opinion piece by Austin Beutner, superintendent at LAUSD. Big text “By going on strike, the teachers union makes it even harder to increase wages and staffing.”
Excerpt “Ninety percent of the funding for our schools comes from Sacramento, the state capital, which Los Angeles can’t control.” … “The teachers’ demands would end one way: bankruptcy and a state takeover of the school district.” He refers to this happening to neighboring Inglewood USD, with bad effects.
Excerpt “Currently, for every 100 students who enter our high schools, about a dozen will drop out and only a dozen will graduate from college.” … “About 60% of the students are not proficient in English.”
Excerpt “We also agree that smaller class sizes and more teachers would help, but we simply don’t have the money.”

I expect that the Union chief leading the strike has written a letter to the editor in response, and it has, or soon will be, published.

I don’t laugh when I describe charter schools and vouchers that way. Because many parents of color want to get their children into such schools and children in those schools (space limited, lucky students chosen by lottery) do better than children in the public schools, including better than the children who lost the lottery.

Not in this editorial, but no doubt in other places. Recall that Los Angeles gets 90% of its funding from the state, and can make the pitch about the higher cost “third world conditions” of their students. I think it would be interesting to study the comparison. I would bet that Los Angeles gets more money for its students than Cd. Nezahualcóyotl, an impoverished suburb of Mexico City, spends, and gets worse results than Nezahualcóyotl does.

True, but there are more choices than those two. To mention an obvious one that Common Dreams writers have written about in other articles, progressive activists have pushed for ‘depolicing’ and for ‘de-incarcerating’. So many people don’t have to be locked up.

What are the job duties of a large public school superintendent? It used to be to manage scarce resources, in order to keep everyone as happy as can be managed. Most important to keep happy are the parents, legislators and taxpayers who pay the money that keeps the school running.

In recent decades the job duties of a large public school superintendent have shifted a bit, to begging for more money.
- On Wall Street there is a saying that investments aren’t bought, they are sold. That seems to apply here: the job of a large public school superintendent is increasingly to sell a resistant legislature and a resistant public on increased appropriations and increased taxation. An investment banker, particularly one good at soft-soap lying to the people providing money, seems well qualified to be LAUSD superintendent. :slight_smile:

(And, given the dissonance between money spent and results, the legislators and public seem justified in resisting the existing public schools, and looking for alternatives.)

Because they historically have gotten better results at lower cost, and parents like and want them. Particularly low-income parents of color.

HI a2plusb2—I am glad that your private school works well for you family, but so many of them are horrifying. Also, they do not have the same standards as the public schools like the ones where the teachers are striking in CA . Too, there are schools where nearly everything is on computer, and sadly there are many that seem to have no standards, except as babysitter. It’s great that your experience has been a good one for your family…but as these schools do not have to fulfill the same qualifications as the state schools do. I am wondering what state that you live in, because sadly all schools from tax payer money are not created equally. I am also wondering how this came about because Catholic schools used to be private and used the money supplied by parents----- I am wondering if Catholic schools can get taxpayer funds too now, as those once upon a time those were the few private schools—I wonder if they get taxpayer money now too.

If they were ‘horrifying’, then parents would be pulling their children out of those schools, much like they are pulling their kids out of Boy Scouts.

And if there were so many of them then the main stream media would be publishing stories on it.

Do those schools have to meet the same standards as public schools? Seeing that they usually beat public schools at the most important standards of reading, mathematics, etc., the question seems irrelevant.

HI a3plusb2 I’m glad you sent me some information, so thank you.In CA, the public schools are run by state law, and the charters here do not have to follow the same strict rules. I am not sure where you live, but yes, there are some excellent charter and private schools----but state schools often have more strict requirements for public schools as mandated by law.
Different state have different rules as I have read that the public schools in states like Louisiana are for the poor and are neglected.

Re: Reporting about schools ----The main stream media really doesn’t report on schooling unless its a shooting, which is sad in itself. In higher income communities, there are more private schools too, but the lower economic areas are often neglected and forgotten.
I actually haven’t read any reports on private or charter schools beating public schools across the board , so is there a particular magazine or paper you read for those results?

I am sure that the schools in higher income areas do better in many geographic areas, but I am not sure if private schools get a cut of the taxpayer pie, but I am familiar with charter schools who do. But then we have a Betsy DeVos who seems to forget about lower income students—and we’ve had Secretary of Ed people in both political parties who did not seem all that interested in having a level playing field in creating equitable information for all. From your experience it seems like your kids have access to a good education--------but sadly in America, money talks louder than equality.

3/22/2018 Education choice freedom charter schools
New Mackinac Center Study Finds Charter Schools Cost Effective …


Mar 22, 2018 - The Mackinac Center’s latest evidence on Michigan charter schools has turned upside down the claims made by some of educational choice’s highest-profile opponents. Driven by opposition to education secretary Betsy DeVos, some will go to great lengths to tarnish the legacy of school reform in her home …
x - “That’s what Cato Institute Education Analyst Corey DeAngelis and I found in our new report, “Doing More with Less: The Charter School Advantage in Michigan.” For every $1,000 the average charter school spends, it gets 32 percent better results on state tests than nearby district schools. For students, that translates into a 36 percent advantage in lifetime earnings.”
x - “The main reason is that they get less overall funding. For each full-time student, they get roughly $2,800 less, mostly because they don’t have access to local property tax money. Yet they perform as well as conventional districts — and sometimes, even better”
x - “That doesn’t even take into account the fact Detroit’s charter schools get better results with $5,500 less spent per student. As our new analysis shows, that disparity translates into huge long-term benefits.”

Wall Street Journal Friday 9-7-2017 Not-public education
page A17 ‘Charter School Are Flourishing on their Silver Anniversary’. Specific mention that failing charter schools are shut down, and successful ones are encouraged to expand.

8-23-2017 W Wall Street Journal page A14 ‘New York Attacks Success’, Success charter schools = 7th largest school district in NY State, and its highest achieving. 86% of Success’ 15,500 students are children of color. 95% test proficient in Math, 84% in English.
Compare to traditional public schools in NYC, 24% in Math, 29% in English.

There are, of course, more, but I’ve only been making note of such articles recently. I have also seen an article on limits to success. But as noted in one of the above articles, unsuccessful charter schools get shut down.

HI a2plusb2 : Thank you ---- I have lots to read , so thank you. Although, as a small child my mother nick named me “Doubting Thomas,” and I am not all that excited about the Cato Institute-----but I will read what is written and see. Thank you again for all the resources. : )