The first teachers’ strike in 30 years continues in Los Angeles Tuesday, keeping roughly two-thirds of children out of school and creating hardship for tens of thousands of families, many of them poor, working-class, or minority households.
The Los Angeles Times reported about the first day of the strike:
The walkout of 31,000 teachers union members proved to be the massive disruption hundreds of thousands of students and their families had feared. The vast majority of the district’s parents and guardians are low income, and many had to choose between missing work to watch their children or sending them into an unknown situation at school. While campuses remained open, the few adults present struggled to keep students engaged.
Meanwhile, the nation’s left-wing ideological leaders, including “democratic socialist” heroine Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), celebrated the strike, objecting to what they called the “privatization” of schools.
These LA teachers striking against privatization + demanding smaller classrooms/more support for their students is a whole 2019 mood
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 14, 2019
Officially, the strike is about higher pay, smaller class sizes, and additional support staff. Unofficially, the strike is about protecting the clout of the teachers’ union as charter schools — many of them un-unionized — expand in L.A.
The teachers themselves admit it. On Monday, one teacher published an op-ed at PBS titled, “Charter schools are draining LA’s public schools. That’s why I’m on strike.”
I’m striking to stop charter schools from draining our schools. In addition to seeking lower class sizes, more counselors, nurses and librarians and a pay raise, the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) is asking that LAUSD stop approving charter schools, which have seen a 287 percent increase in the district’s boundaries since 2008. The loss of enrollment across the district means a $600 million loss from our public schools every year.
Due to our school’s low enrollment, an English teaching position was cut halfway through the fall semester. Charter schools are publicly funded but are not governed by a local district. In other words, charters schools run more like private schools with little oversight. Most charter school employees are not unionized; therefore approving more charter schools is one way to weaken the UTLA.
Time magazine agreed that the “growth of charter schools as a central issue in the nation’s second-largest school district,” where one in five students now attends a charter school rather than a traditional public institution.
Charter schools are especially favored by black and Latino families precisely because they offer an escape from failing public schools in the inner city — which, many argue, are failing partly because of the control the union enjoys.
The unions — which are backed by the Democratic Party machine in California — were able to defeat charter school advocate Marshall Tuck for the second time in the race for state school superintendent last November.
But charter school advocates won two seats in the L.A. Unified School District elections the year before. And last year’s Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME freed public employees from having to pay mandatory dues to the union.
The L.A. teachers’ strike is an attempt to protect the unions’ political power. The problem is that the district literally has nothing to give them: it is already making massive staff cuts to avoid bankruptcy and takeover by L.A. County.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.