The Los Angeles teacher union issues its ransom demand note
There's currently a debate about whether students should return to school in the fall or have distance learning only. The Trump administration is pushing for a return to normal, while leftists, reflexively, are pushing back against the idea. United Teachers Los Angeles ("UTLA"), the teachers' union controlling more than 500,000 public school students in Los Angeles County, has decided that, with parents effectively held hostage, it's time to make its demands, and what demands they are!
In a sane world, teachers who are concerned about health would be focused on the actual risks to children and teachers in classrooms, as well as ways to mitigate those risks — all while recognizing that there is no such thing as perfect safety. For example, with regard to the Arizona teacher who died when she and two other teachers caught the Wuhan virus, although her death is undoubtedly a tragedy, she had severe existing health conditions. The focus should be on protecting teachers like her, as well as students who are also at risk.
That, though, is not the UTLA approach. Instead, it's issued a lengthy manifesto describing the systemic racism that affects the Los Angeles Unified School District and demanding a complete remake of the school system before its teachers will return to the classrooms. It's worth noting that Los Angeles has consistently been one of the worst school districts in California.
Having established that systemic racism is the problem with public education in Los Angeles (as opposed to the lack of competition and a union system that has as its priorities protecting bad teachers and indoctrinating students), UTLA is ready with its demands. There are dozens — way too many for this post — but here are the standouts:
"Testing of 100% of symptomatic individuals in the community."
"Paid sick leave for parents to be able to keep symptomatic children home."
"Greatly increased federal and state funding to support physical distancing and hygiene practices."
"A robust, free testing and contact tracing system for the entire community that explicitly addresses access issues about Black, Brown, and low-income communities."
"Drastically reduced class sizes to no more than 12 per classroom."
"Dramatically changed transportation plans to ensure social distancing."
"Adequate supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all staff and students."
"Student and staff symptom and temperature screening before entering buses or school buildings."
"Explicit plans to address social emotional trauma and continued stress amidst pandemic through increased mental health supports, including increased staffing of counselors, psychologists, PSWs, and PSAs. According to the CDC, even before the crisis, suicide was the second leading cause of death among youth aged 10–24 years.[fn.] An estimated 20% of LAUSD students have a diagnosable mental health issue."
"No standardized testing infringing on instructional time." [This translates to "get rid of tests that show what a bad job we're doing."]
The manifesto's authors are aware that California is already bankrupting itself with endless shutdowns. The manifesto, therefore, includes a demand that California must make "millionaires and billionaires finally pay their fair share." To this end, it's got not one, but two, proposed wealth taxes:
"Wealth Tax: A new tax on unrealized capital gains to California billionaires only, 1% a year until capital gains taxes are met. This would generate an estimated $10 billion a year initially."
"Millionaire Tax: Add a 1% surtax on incomes over $1 million a year, and 3% for over $3 million a year. This would generate an estimated $4.5 billion-plus a year."
Additionally, before returning to classrooms, Los Angeles public school teachers have three more demands: get rid of the police (who are often the only thing keeping schools viable in dangerous districts), stamp out competition by defunding charter schools, and provide even more taxpayer funding for illegal aliens.
It remains to be seen whether Los Angeles's hard-left government will accede to these requests. Even if it does, it's questionable whether taxpayers will finally have enough when they see the union extorting parents by refusing to give Los Angeles's children an in-class education until the union's over-the-top demands are met.
Some enterprising parents might suggest that if schools aren't giving children their all, taxes should be lowered, not raised, and teachers and administrators need to start getting laid off. After all, people are noticing that, since the Democrats decided to destroy their states' economies, the private sector is getting bankrupted while the state governments keep everyone on the payroll.