Friday afternoon, I drove by a few schools on the way to my own children’s elementary school for the day’s dismissal. Or rather, I should the day’s early dismissal. The LAUSD School Board decided to let teachers chisel on their children’s education by cutting the school day short by 35 minutes. Other school districts throughout the state actually permitted teachers to take off an entire day to protest for higher taxes in Sacramento.
Apparently, these “devoted” teachers who are just “acting on behalf of the kids” have no compunction about abandoning them for anywhere from 35 minutes to an entire day to protest possible state education cuts. Now I have no problem with any employee, unionized or not, to protest against salary or benefit cuts. However, that protest should happen on their OWN DAMN TIME. I was pleased to see, and not surprised, that the outstanding teachers at my public elementary school were not out marching in red shirts with signs calling for higher taxes. Instead, there were just 5 chairs set outside the school with the names of the teachers who might be laid off. Simple, tasteful, poignant. Nobody chiseled on the kids, nor should they. The most truly devoted teacher I ever had, Edwin Barlow, never once missed a single day of school in thirty-five years. It didn’t matter how sick he was, how hungover he might have been, or if he had a cast on a leg he’d broken the night before. He showed up.
All this comes amidst a disturbing revelation that your intrepid citizen journalist is investigating. It’s been revealed to me that the LAUSD budget spent $77 million on consultants in the current school year. I wrote a letter to my School Board Rep asking for complete transparency in this massive expenditure — transparency I am entitled to as a taxpayer, and that LAUSD would do well to examine for the coming school year. By my estimation, there are 1,000 teacher salaries wrapped up in that $77 million, and I want to know who is receiving that money, what “consultation services” they are allegedly providing, and whether or not there are any relationships that exist between consultants and Board Members.
To date, I have not yet heard back from my School Board Rep. Readers of my column know, however, that in cases like this I can be like a dog on a bone. Stay tuned.