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Conventional analyses of the Los Angeles teachers strike present the public with a false dichotomy: is the teachers union right or is the school district right? The reality is that both sides are wrong, and the solution for parents and students is greater school choice for all children.
First, the Los Angeles school board has had a terrible history of fiscal mismanagement.
Example - Pro-union - School - Board - Health
In 2017, for example, the then pro-union school board approved full health benefits for part-time workers, despite warnings from its own district officials that the district was headed toward bankruptcy because of huge unsupportable benefit and pension obligations.
The district must meet state-mandated budget reserve requirements, but it can only do so, according to the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), if it makes substantial spending reductions between 2019-20 and 2020-21. However, even if these reductions are made, the County says that it would not eliminate the district’s structural deficit—the district is spending more than it is taking in.
Demands - United - Teachers - Los - Angeles
Yet, the demands of the United Teachers of Los Angeles bear no relation to this fiscal reality.
The school district is offering a 6 percent raise in salaries. However, the union wants retroactive 6.5 percent pay raises going back to 2016, more staff in every school, and reductions in class size.
Union - Demands - Upwards - District - Demands
The union’s demands would cost upwards of $1 billion beyond what the district is proposing. To pay for its demands, the union wants the district to tap into its reserve, which is already at dwindling levels, so surrendering to the union’s demands would push the district into insolvency.
LACOE superintendent Debra Duardo recently warned: “Especially at a district as large as LAUSD, if they were to go insolvent, then they would be in really big trouble. They would actually run out of cash they need to pay their teachers and all their salaries.”
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