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LA teachers strike ends with salary deal


Teachers protesting at a rally Tuesday at Los Angeles City Hall Associated Press/Photo by Christopher Weber

LA teachers strike ends with salary deal

Tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers returned to their classrooms Wednesday after voting to ratify a proposed contract deal. The vote ended a six-day strike by the United Teachers Los Angeles union in the nation’s second-largest school district. The agreement includes a 6 percent pay raise for teachers and a commitment by the district to reduce class sizes over the next four years. It also provides for an additional 600 nurses and numerous other support positions, such as counselors and librarians, over the next three years.

Both sides claim that they got what they wanted in the final 21-hour bargaining session, but Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner cautioned that a $500 million budget deficit still looms at the end of this school year. “The issue has always been how do we pay for it?” he said. “That issue does not go away now that we have a contract. We can’t solve 40 years of underinvestment in public education in just one week or just one contract.”

Seemingly emboldened by last year’s “Red4Ed” movement and the LA strike, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, the union that represents about two-thirds of the city’s public school teachers, held its own vote Tuesday, deciding to strike next week if contract negotiations don’t lead to better base pay rates, among other demands.


Laura Edghill

Laura is an education correspondent for WORLD. She is a World Journalism Institute and Northwestern University graduate and serves as the communications director for her church. Laura resides with her husband and three sons in Clinton Township, Mich.

@LTEdghill

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OldMike

Seems fair to me that Los Angeles School patrons should expect their kids to score 6% higher in testing, now that teachers will be paid 6% more. 

I remember the great outcry in the late 50’s about US schools failing in their job, as reflected by US students testing lower than kids of other developed nations. The trigger for the scrutiny and outcry was Sputnik—“How did Russia manage to beat the US into space?”  So for a while more emphasis was placed on math and sciences, in order to “catch up.”

On the other hand...  I had an English teacher when I was a sophomore and junior who had EVERY STUDENT participating in acting out Shakespeare plays, diagramming sentences at the board, etc. I don’t mean merely every student in her classes.  No, being a small school, EVERY student attending went through her classes.  There were no “advanced” or “slow” classes. Same for math and science, although yes, some of us took algebra, leading to algebra II and geometry, and some took only one year of general math. But same teacher, same expectations for the students. A very large majority of us graduated with greater literacy and math skills than many I’ve seen who graduated 20 or 40 years later. And I doubt my English, math, or science teachers were making $4000 a year.

Point is, something besides money is the key.  NOT that you would find me saying teachers should be paid less, especially considering they must have 4 or 5 years of college to be awarded a certificate to teach.  

The issue is our culture.  We focus more on the superficial than the substantive; our attention spans are short; we demand to be entertained and catered to. By our bosses, our spouses, our churches; as well as sports and entertainment.

We Christians might say, “Christian Schools are the answer, at least for our kids.”  But during my son’s 13 years in a Christian school, and my wife’s involvement as a teacher and administrator in Christian schools, I saw the same desire to be catered to: demands that the school relax standards, inflate grades, ease up on discipline, and so forth.  

I’m afraid I’m very pessimistic about our nation/culture. But optimistic for the eventual outcomes the Lord has had planned for millennia.