The flyers and handouts and signs and banners are up at my local elementary school. Seven teachers are scheduled to be fired on June 30th because — big surprise — there’s just not enough money to keep them. So stand up for these beloved teachers — and they are beloved — by writing to the local School Board rep and demanding that cuts take place somewhere else.
Oh, and parents, while you’re at it, put pressure on your state legislator to vote in favor of Jerry Brown’s tax increase extension. That would be the 5-year extension Brown failed to ram through the legislature — an even longer extension than voters smacked down in a proposition vote in 2009. That way we can keep these teachers at further expense to our pocketbooks and the California economy. Not that this is a scare tactic, but it is a scare tactic. You don’t want your kid to be in a 39-student classroom, do you? Do you? Because the sky IS falling.
Because God forbid that the Teacher’s Union should make concessions.
In talking with unnamed Administrators they said the cuts could easily come from within Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) at many different levels. What needs to happen is that the Board needs to communicate directly with the teachers and administrators in the trenches to learn what could be cut. That, of course, would be far too easy.
Instead, the union trumpets the fact that everyone — from lunch personnel and bus drivers to rank-and-file teachers — voted to increase the number of unpaid furlough days from seven to eleven. So while this is technically a cut, it’s a selfish one. Why? Because all it does is give teachers four extra vacation days, while chiseling on the kids. The ballsy, and morally upstanding move, would have been to cut salary by the same percentage while actually providing instruction. You know, being devoted to the kids.
One of the great teachers of the modern high school, Edwin Barlow (whom I profiled in a memoir), taught every single day at Horace Greeley High School in New York for 35 consecutive years. He never missed a single day. If he had too much to drink the night before, along with a few other teachers back in the 1950’s, he showed up as sharp as ever. Broken leg from a car accident? He was there the next day, blasting away from the rear of the classroom, demanding 100% intellectual effort from his students. Sick? He was there. He never, ever chiseled on the kids. They were his priority. Furlough day? No such thing back then. As a WWII veteran, furloughs were few and far between, after all. If school happened to be out for some reason, he’d be in his classroom anyway, in case some student needed help.
That, my friends, is devotion to students. Voting for unpaid furlough days over actually teaching the kids for the same money is NOT.
This is all par for the course in the looniest state in the Union. Here we have Jerry Brown, a man with nothing to lose politically, who could have done the right thing by dicing and slicing $25 billion from the bloated budget. Californians know the public employee pensions are the primary culprit to the state’s fiscal woes. Add in the billions of dollars the taxpayer is choked with thanks to a non-existent illegal immigration policy, and you have your $25 billion right there.
But no, rather than be remembered as a governor with the courage to do what was right –even when he has nothing to lose — Jerry Brown will go down as just another dopey bureaucrat who talked big. When the tax extension ballot proposition goes down to defeat again, one wonders if he actually will cut the other $12.5 billion the taxes were supposed to pay for.
I’m not banking on it.
And by the way, watch LAUSD “magically” find the money to keep most or all of these teachers, just as has happened in the past. Maybe it’s because a working teacher has more money to extract union dues from.