There was a time in my forty-year teaching career when I was proud to be a member of UTLA, a powerful kids-first teachers’ union in Los Angeles. That changed when political interests played havoc with the leadership of the union, bought its leaders, and turned it into a political bloc. Bad news. Not much has changed since then.
I will never forget my first lesson in politics. It came early in life and involved California teachers unions.
I attended public school, K-12, in Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD) located in affluent South Orange County. It’s a district known for high graduation rates and sought-after schools.
In first grade, I caught daily sightings of teachers protesting their grievances with supposed low pay. How could this be, especially in ritzy South Orange County? It seemed inconceivable to me. But what did I know then? I was simply a “brainwashed” daughter of Republican voters.
It turns out, however, CUSD teachers are paid handsome salaries averaging $67,980 (kindergarten) to $78,940 (middle school) per available Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) statistics. Moreover, powerful teachers’ unions had a stranglehold on our school board. When reformers were elected, they were shortly recalled. It was an unsustainable system.
Although I left California in 2012, I’m not surprised to see emboldened California teachers’ unions still wreaking havoc today. Just look at neighboring Los Angeles County.
CA Teachers Unions Gone Wild
The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the Golden State’s largest local teachers union, slammed the state’s recently unveiled reopening plan as “a recipe for propagating structural racism.” Interestingly enough, the plan isn’t conditional on schools reopening but rather “offers $2 billion in financial incentives for those that open before April 1.”
Adding insult to injury, 91 percent of its members voted against reopening schools until their “demands” are met.
“We are being unfairly targeted by people who are not experiencing this disease in the same ways as students and families are in our communities. If this was a rich person’s disease, we would’ve seen a very different response. We would not have the high rates of infections and deaths,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said.
“Now educators are asked instead to sacrifice ourselves, the safety of our students and the safety of our schools.”
It was also revealed the same teachers’ union is openly harassing parents who dare question their policies related to school closures.
One parent, a woman from Afghanistan, said UTLA racially profiled her for daring to question their stances:
Maryam Qudrat says the teachers union asked her about her past media interviews, as well as her ethnicity and class status, as part of a “project” and now, she is crying foul.
Qudrat has a seventh-grader enrolled in LAUSD and for months, she had advocated for kids to return to in-person schooling and has given media interviews criticizing UTLA for refusing to reopen schools.
“I’m a mom and an educator and I want our kids to come back to school,” she said.
“Their conclusion is if you want schools to reopen right now, then that means you are racist against African Americans and Latinos,” Qudrat added.
The question beckons: will Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) finally stand up to teachers’ unions? Highly doubtful.
Newsom Likely Won’t Budge, Is Beholden to Union Money
Governor Newsom, fast falling out of favor with California residents, could be on the precipice of being recalled. Once the signature threshold is attained, this will be the second recall campaign against a Democratic governor. The first led to the ousting of former Governor Gray Davis in 2003.
Republican challengers like former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, seen as a leading GOP candidate unless former Ambassador Ric Grenell jumps in, have called out Newsom for capitulating to the teachers’ unions.
“Gavin Newsom is allowing union political activists to hold students and teachers across California hostage even while they insult the communities they serve,” said Gustavo Portela, Faulconer for Governor campaign press secretary, in an email to Townhall.com. “It’s shameful, but not surprising since these union activists spent millions supporting Newsom’s political campaigns. It’s time to reopen schools now and recall this incompetent elitist.”
Of course, Newsom received $58,400 from the California Teachers Association (CTA) during the 2018 gubernatorial race. Go figure.
CalMatters added, “Labor invested handsomely in Newsom during his 2018 gubernatorial bid. He took $2.7 million from service workers, and the state’s pair of teacher unions dropped another $1.7 million for Newsom’s campaign.”
Despite proposing a plan and accompanying incentives, Newsom is expected to cower to these powerful special interests. How predictable!
A recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) science brief concluded, “Although children can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, can get sick from COVID-19, and can spread the virus to others, less than 10% of COVID-19 cases in the United States have been among children and adolescents aged 5–17 years (COVID Data Tracker). Compared with adults, children and adolescents who have COVID-19 are more commonly asymptomatic (never develop symptoms) or have mild, non-specific symptoms.”
“Based on the data available, in-person learning in schools has not been associated with substantial community transmission,” it added.
Given the evidence, there’s grounds to safely reopen schools across the U.S.—including the Bear Republic. And for that reason alone, California teachers’ unions must follow the science—or be reined in.