Kids in Los Angeles have had it rough since 2020, kicked out of school to lie on their couches pretending to pay attention to Zoom for a full year and a half during the pandemic. Even when they were allowed back, they faced a host of vaccine mandates, mandatory mask requirements, and (useless) plexiglass barriers everywhere.
Now, the ever-helpful LA teachers union (United Teachers Los Angeles, or UTLA) has voted to boycott the first of four planned voluntary extra learning days designed to help struggling students catch up. Mind you, teachers would be paid for these days, but that’s not good enough because they have other plans. Instead of instructing, they’re going to be holding a rally downtown to demand increased pay and a host of other items detailed in their “Beyond Recovery” platform.
Because, you know, it beats having to actually teach.
Teachers union telling teachers to boycott LAUSD voluntary learning day for students (where they’d get paid extra) and instead rally (without pay) for UTLA’s contract demands.#NotQuiteAStrike
https://t.co/itWKivJvg7 via @ladailynews
— LA Parent Union ❄️😢 (@UTLAUncensored) August 19, 2022
Special education teacher Marcela Chagoya said in a statement:
Our students don’t need four optional extra school days, they need a district that is committed to investing in their future. The lack of transparency or planning around these ‘Accelerated Days’ makes clear that the district does not have a plan for these days and instead sees this as a cheaper alternative to investing in smaller class sizes, and more social, emotional and health resources for our students.
With teachers who care this much, it’s no wonder over 50,000 students didn’t show up at the start of the school year.
The LA Times reports that the boycott was widely supported by teachers:
Among roughly 34,000 union members, 18,257 participated in a survey this week. Within that group, 93% voted to support a boycott, the union said. The union represents counselors, librarians and nurses as well as teachers.
You can tell the union’s priorities just by looking at the header on their Twitter page, which is also featured at the top of this article. Does it show a teacher teaching? Does it show a kid learning? No, it shows a woman yelling into a bullhorn, presumably making all sorts of demands at a rally. It should come as no surprise then to discover that the union president, Cecily Myart-Cruz, is a radical who tried to keep schools closed as long as possible during the pandemic (going so far as to say that California’s re-opening plan in 2021 was “propagating structural racism”) and who continues to spout inflammatory rhetoric in the few interviews she now gives. Reporter Jason McGahan wrote in Los Angeles Magazine Friday:
“There is no such thing as learning loss,” she [Myart-Cruz] responds when asked how her insistence on keeping L.A.’s schools mostly locked down over the last year and a half may have impacted the city’s 600,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade students. “Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.”
The head of the LA Teachers Union literally said “There is no such thing as learning loss.” https://t.co/2aGGCCQs38
— The Only Gary Johnson Stan (@colorblindk1d) August 26, 2022
“There is no such thing as learning loss.” As a parent, I cannot tell you how deeply this ticks me off. I witnessed first-hand the learning loss, the mental health struggles and so much more that harmed kids immeasurably during lockdowns. You don’t need to take my word for it though; there are many studies showing severe a learning decline among our nation’s youth.
Myart-Cruz cares about a lot of things (including eliminating school police), but it would seem that the only two things she doesn’t care about are teaching and children. McGahan writes:
…under Myart-Cruz’s stewardship, which began when she assumed office in the summer of 2020…[her] purview has been expanded to include a breathtaking range of far-flung progressive issues: racial justice, Medicare for all, the millionaire tax, financial support for undocumented families, rental and eviction relief—over the last 15 months, UTLA has championed them all. Many of these may be laudable aims, or at least worth debating, but they aren’t the sort of agendas normally pursued by your neighborhood teachers’ union. In what universe, after all, does UTLA’s recent boycott of Israel over the conflict with Hamas benefit the teachers—or students—of Los Angeles?
Why is this extreme personality in charge of the teachers union? It boggles the mind. She should be running AOC’s Twitter account.
In so many ways, the nation failed the least powerful in our society during the pandemic: the young. Teachers unions have behaved despicably during the crisis, and UTLA is one of the worst offenders. Instead of trying to help our children, they once again would rather use them as bargaining chips.