Unionized teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District are preparing to go on strike. Union officials are demanding a retroactive salary increase, an increase in union membership (achieved by hiring more counselors, nurses, librarians and teachers), fewer standardized tests and added regulations to make it harder to open charter schools.
Let’s take these demands one at a time. The Los Angeles Daily News ran the numbers and “The typical Los Angeles Unified educator collected $75,504 in 2014.” Keep in mind that salary number is only base pay. It does not include the cost of benefits like health insurance and pension that can add up to nearly 50 percent of the base pay in some instances.
In addition to the summer break, the teachers also enjoyed 22 paid holidays. This is in comparison to the 9 paid holidays each year the people who pay teacher salaries enjoy.
The school district has offered a salary increase of 6 percent, which comes out to $4,530.00. That’s not enough for the union. It’s demanding 6.5 percent retroactive to last year, for a total of $9,815.00. Even before any raise, California has the third-highest teacher salary in the nation. Only New York and Connecticut pay more. Without any raise, California teachers make $31,000 a year more than the average U.S. wage earner who puts in 52 weeks a year.
It is quite understandable that the average taxpayer, who works more days a year for lower wages than teachers do, might want to know what return they are receiving on their education dollar. The news there is not good.
According to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Test Results for 2018, 58 percent of all students in the district failed to meet the testing standard. That helps to explain the USA Today rating of California schools: “California has the largest network of public schools in the country — and also one of the worst-performing. Only 29.2% of fourth graders in the state are proficient in math, and only 27.8% are proficient in reading — each the third lowest share of any state.”
CNS News analyzed Census data and found “California ranks No. 1 among the 50 states for the percentage of its residents 25 and older who have never completed ninth grade.” It also ranks dead last for the percentage of residents who have graduated from high school.
The students may not be getting an education, but union officials can certainly read the writing on the wall. That’s why instead of improving schools, the union wants to reduce educational opportunities for parents and students.
Charter schools provide the only taxpayer-funded competition for government schools. So many parents are disgusted with what passes for education in the LAUSD that 20 percent of the students in the district attend charters. The union’s ‘captive audience’ bargaining demand would make it harder for parents to find charter school spots for their children.
Combine that with the demand for fewer standardized tests — which are the only form of accountability in government schools — and one gets the impression the students are not at the top of union official’s priority list.
Something is obviously wrong with education in Los Angeles. We don’t think reducing accountability while increasing wages, which are already lucrative by any standard, is the solution.
Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a questsin TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.
Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.