Home>Articles>L.A. Teachers Union: Give us $250 Million, Or Keep Schools Closed

UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz on teleconference on The Struggle for Police-Free Schools and an Equitable, Safe Re-Opening. (Photo: youtube)

L.A. Teachers Union: Give us $250 Million, Or Keep Schools Closed

Are disadvantaged communities going to be better off or worse off if schools don’t reopen?

By Edward Ring, July 15, 2020 12:37 pm

The second largest public school district in the United States is in turmoil. Los Angeles Unified School District, with over 600,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade at over 1,000 schools, may not be open for the business of teaching on August 18. How to handle the COVID-19 pandemic is the issue, and there is nowhere near a consensus on how to handle it.

The union representing LAUSD teachers is the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), which has recently put out a lengthy document outlining what they believe are “Safe and Equitable Conditions for Starting LAUSD in 2020-21,” as California Globe reported this week. It’s a doozy.

Laced throughout the document are references to the disproportionate effect COVID-19 has on “people of color.” The document leads off with a section entitled “The Same Storm, But Different Boats,” making the case that LAUSD’s student population is disadvantaged compared to the general population. They are more likely to live in higher density housing, more likely to live in multi-generational households, more likely to live further away from medical care, more likely to use mass transit, etc., etc. Their point: All of this “structural racism” means that compared to other school districts in California, more will have to be done before LAUSD can open.

The problem with this litany is it predates COVID-19 and ignores a crucial question: Are disadvantaged communities going to be better off or worse off if schools don’t reopen? If it is impossible to meet all of the conditions that might be necessary to ensure that schools in low income communities eliminate all these extra risks and disadvantages, then what?

UTLA Conditions to Reopen Go Well Beyond Medical Concerns

According to the UTLA, the “total additional expenses to restart physical schools could be nearly $250 million.” Moreover, this sum of money, monstrous as it is, will “not take into account measures to address the increased need for mental health and social services, the educational needs of children who may have fallen behind in the shift to crisis distance learning, regular testing of students and staff, or the long-term effects on students that will need to be addressed over multiple years. Finally, these costs do not include investments into distance learning, which will continue to be provided, either to all students under a full distance learning.”

So UTLA is looking for somewhere between a quarter-billion and a half-billion dollars before they’ll agree to reopening schools. And to be clear – LAUSD was in serious financial trouble before COVID-19 came along. To recap:

  • In exchange for 180 days of classroom instruction per year, the average LAUSD teacher makes over $100K per year in pay and benefits (grossly understated estimate because it doesn’t take into account paying down their unfunded pension and retirement health care liabilities).
  • The “modest” strike settlement negotiated between LAUSD and UTLA in early 2019 left LAUSD in worse financial shape than before.
  • Taking all expenditures into account, California spends, on average, over $20,000 per K-12 pupil per year. There is not a revenue problem, there is a spending problem.
  • An under-reported reason the teachers unions want to unionize – or abolish – charter schools is because they need to fold more pupil counts, and hence more revenue, into their annual budgets. Only in this way can they hope to spread their existing pension debt over a larger revenue base.

So where will $250 million (or more) come from?

At the federal level, the UTLA is calling for federal assistance including an emergency bailout, along with increased Title I funding, increased Individuals With Disabilities Education funding, and “Medicare for All.”

At the state level, UTLA is calling for passage of the proposed property tax increase that is already on the November ballot, along with a “Wealth Tax” of 1 percent a year, and a “Millionaire Tax” of up to 3 percent surtax on high income Californians.

And at the local level, UTLA wants to “Defund Police,” provide free housing to anyone, ten additional sick days for all private employees, a moratorium on charter schools, and “financial support for undocumented students and families.”

None of this political agenda is new, apart perhaps from “defund the police.” Even UTLA admits this in their conclusion, which leads off with “Normal Wasn’t Working For Us Before.” Perhaps on that, everyone can agree. LAUSD was failing to deliver educational outcomes for its students that they deserve. LAUSD was in financial trouble. And the student population of LAUSD had a higher than average percentage of students from low income families. But we didn’t shut down the schools.

The Medical Debate is All That Matters Right Now

Almost lost in UTLA’s position on reopening the LAUSD schools, given their ongoing fixation on race, class, and every other perceptible category of disadvantage, is the medical debate. But here again, just as with the political and financial conditions they’ve set for reopening schools, what they’re asking for is impossible to achieve. Some are tougher than others.

For example, UTLA is asking for “drastically reduced class sizes to no more than 12 per classroom.” They are asking for personal protective equipment for all staff and students, presumably to mandate that everyone including students wear masks. If you read the entire list of steps UTLA considers necessary in order to open schools (pages 7, 8, and half of page 9), it is clear that what they are asking for cannot be achieved without – and they’re being forthright about this – an infusion of over $250 million for this school year, with no end in sight. Is this necessary?

Here is where, with tragic and ongoing consequences, political priorities have distorted the public health debate over how to handle COVID-19. From the start, the priority has been to lock down the healthy, instead of quarantining the vulnerable. And from the start, any information that might point to inexpensive therapies has been suppressed.

Here is a partial list of mitigating factors that ought to be central in the discussion:

  • The number of pre-adolescent children who have become sick with COVID-19 is statistically negligible.
  • Children also do not appear to spread COVID-19.
  • Older children can catch COVID-19 but the rate of cases that either are fatal or leave serious long-term damage is statistically negligible.
  • Healthy teachers can take several measures to protect themselves from possible exposure to infection, including the approved methods – face shields, masks, frequent hand washing, social distancing.
  • Teachers with health conditions or in at-risk age groups should consider taking a leave of absence or retiring.
  • Preventive steps can be taken including getting an updated Rubella vaccine, taking 400 mg per week of hydroxychloroquine, taking zinc lozenges, getting at least 8 minutes per day of exposure to full sun or taking vitamin D3, taking Pepcid, and taking chewable vitamin C;

These preventative measures may not all be valid. But there is strong evidence that some of them are valid. They have been unfairly dismissed.

Why?

To learn more about alternative therapies and preventative measures, local policymakers ought to do their own research. Review the most recent studies that acknowledge the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine: Henry Ford Health System; Infectious Diseases Unit, Central Defense Hospital, MadridNYU Grossman School of MedicineSo Ahn Public Health Center, Republic of KoreaAmerican Journal of EpidemiologyTravel Medicine and Infectious Disease, France.

To follow both sides of the debate over hydroxychloroquine, read the online postings of Dr. James Todaro, virologist Didier RaoultDr. Victor ZelenkoDr. Dan Erickson and Dr. Artin Massihi, or even Dr. Judy Mikovits. Read “A Tale of Two Drugs: Money vs. Medical Wisdom,” by Dr. Elizabeth Vliet, published by the American Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Even if you disagree with the conclusions ventured by these dissident doctors, you will come away with far more information.

UTLA, as its supporters would almost certainly claim, has an illustrious record of standing up to the supposed establishment, including, one must surmise, “big pharma.” So why doesn’t UTLA apply their formidable resources to looking into these inexpensive and possibly game changing COVID-19 therapies?

It is probably fair to say that behind their chronic need to call for more staff and more pay and benefits, UTLA nonetheless will support any preventative and therapeutic treatments for COVID-19, even if (especially if?) these treatments don’t pour billions into the bank accounts of big pharma.

Could it be that UTLA, along with virtually everyone else associated with the Democratic party, is more interested in seeing nothing get better in America until after the November 3 election?

Edward Ring
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21 thoughts on “L.A. Teachers Union: Give us $250 Million, Or Keep Schools Closed

  1. , Could it be that UTLA, along with virtually everyone else associated with the Democratic party, is more interested in seeing nothing get better in America until after the November 3 election? ”
    Yes – assuming a Democrat win in this November’s elections, this pandemic will then be declared cured on Novemer 4th or 5th…
    This is a pure union shakedown – as soon as they start making social demands, their credibility goes to zero…

    1. Instead of defunding the police, we should defund public schools that act as a monopoly. Allow vouchers and home schooling. Teachers have gone radical and make up the majority of BAMN or BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY organizers. BAMN is linked to antifa and Black Lives Mater and organizes protest nationwide, funded by unions. Yvette Felarca is West Coast BAMN organizer and a Berkeley Middle School teacher. She answers to Donna Stern BAMN out of Detroit. Felarca ran for AFT President and has radical communist views. I have a list of 4,000 of their member organizers.

  2. Here’s the contact information for UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz cmyartcruz@utla.net Lets launch a huge campaign to STOP her and let her know she’s about to get FIRED for clearly pushing a political agenda vs caring about our kids. She doesn’t give a crap about our kids. She wants our money and her own little private island of liberal teacher followers. Time to make a change LA!

    1. Defund public schools and you will get their attention and no doubt they will threaten you. We should support vouchers and allow revenue for qualified home schooling. Public schools have a failed monopoly which is like flushing money down a toilet. I had 3 gifted students/children that were public schooled & Home Schooled. My parents were both teachers and my ex wife. I know the crooked politics and its time to close a decaying educational system. They have over played their hand.

  3. Average salary at LAUSD $100,000? I wish. Get your facts straight and stop trying to privatize public education

  4. You are a foolish man to have written this article. only an idiot would suggest teachers take hydroxychloroquine. You are not a doctor. Why don’t you people send your kids to a LAUSD school without a mask with 34 to 40 kids in a classroom. You Republicans are the biggest imbecilles to have ever walked modern day earth.

    1. @ keegria

      Why wouldn’t someone take hydroxychloroquine ? It’s been around for about 70 years or so and works, and has been proven to work for Covid 19. Why would someone not give it to another who needs it? Only an evil person would withhold a cure from a sick person. You’re not a doctor either and can’t even spell, so stop pretending to be smart since you’re not being successful. As far as children and masks, you’d know children are not at risk and masks are nothing more than muzzles from your evil leftist masters. You liberals are little more than a skid mark on a pair of new underwear.

    2. Must be a ‘teacher’. Ignore the reality of the drug actually being effective. Ignore the reality of pre-adolescents being mostly immune and not carriers. Call people names when you disagree, instead of presenting a well-thought out argument. Actually, I haven’t heard anything well thought out from a ‘teacher’ since the communists took over the school systems in this country.

  5. Shame on you, Ring! And shame on all of you with your ridiculous claims and comments. Here’s a union and a President that puts OUR KIDS first. They shook up the nation with a teachers strike for the betterment of our kid’s classrooms and their beloved teachers. Do your homework before posting such incredible claims. And you all with these insidious comments; where do your kids go to school?! Because if it’s in LA, chances are this President and UTLA have been a positive part of your family’s lives. Bunch of fools. F*ck outta here with this bullsh*it!

    1. Shame on the teachers unions acting like the thugs they have always been trying to extort taxpayer money at any opportunity. Let them shut the schools down and fire all these greedy morons, they are not teaching anyway so why pay them

    2. @ vivian

      Shame on you !! They care for nothing other than themselves, but then they are just being democrats. You know, pretend to care, but don’t.

      As the president of the united federation of teachers 1964 – 1985 Albert Shanker famously said :

      “ When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children “
      Go wash out your filthy mouth and borrow some manners and class from someone who has them you damn crazy liberal fool.

  6. Defund the Unions! The leadership of the unions are nothing more than a bunch of thugs and extortionists. Everything they do is only in the unions self interests. They don’t give a damn about our kids, public safety or taxpayer rights. They selfishly put themselves in front of everyone else. Time to bust them up and send to the stone age.

  7. Just take some pepcid and sit in the sun. You’ll be fine.
    Are you freaking kidding?! What a moron. Nothing else you say can be taken seriously after that comment.

    And Greenbean, do some research. Charter schools pose no competition at all because they have failed at their promise to outperform traditional public schools. Those pesky facts!

    1. Halara – I am increasingly convinced that alternative treatments, hydroxychloroquine in particular, are effective especially as a preventive and in the early stages of COVID-19. Here are two links that provide more information – I recommend you click on the many links in the article as well as read the entire thread relating to the graphic, which I found after writing the article.
      The article (with links):
      https://amgreatness.com/2020/07/21/why-are-potentially-viable-covid-19-treatments-being-suppressed/
      The graphic (and follow up thread):
      https://twitter.com/gummibear737/status/1283840177497088001
      You may want to reconsider what you think is going on with COVID-19 treatments in the US. Based on your comment, you are probably a supporter of the teachers unions. Whatever else we may say about these unions, they are tough political players. So maybe they should have a look at what might be happening here: Maybe big pharma is exercising far too much influence on COVID treatment in the US, and maybe, just maybe, that is causing great harm. If so, then maybe we can agree that reform is urgently needed.
      As for charter schools, union work rules, and the entire issue of whether or not unions even belong in the public sector, we will probably never agree. But you really ought to have a look at the data on COVID-19 treatment alternatives.

  8. I do not teach in California so do not have a dog in this fight. I am replying to the suggestion that vulnerable staff retire. I am returning to teach in August in Montana. We have had no cases of COVID-19 in our town and only 30 students in high school so I feel safe. However, if I were to try to retire at this point, there are a couple of obstacles. First, I signed a contract for the upcoming year last spring. Second, replacing me at this late date might be difficult, if not impossible at this late date. Students would be left without a teacher. It might be better that I teach from home if I am vulnerable, rather than retire.

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