300... of 33,000 Teachers

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It is regrettable that the Tuesday, December 8th demonstration did little to dissuade incompetent LAUSD leadership from further dismembering public education in Los Angeles by now proposing laying off of another 5000 teachers to balance its budget. If anything the fact that only 300 members of 33,000 showed up probably emboldens LAUSD's continued assault on the teachers. Although teaching is the core function of any education system, Cortines and Co. can see that the apathy and cynicism that they and their predecessors have created over the years in teachers  and how it has weakened the resolve of teachers to stand against them. In large part this is due to administrative failure to deal with unacceptable student behavior and an unwillingness to stop social promotion, which puts students into classes that they do not have the foundational skills to do anything but disrupt the class. All this is done by LAUSD administration in aid of its primary directive- protect Average Daily Attendance at any cost.

In the final analysis, an union like UTLA must have a rank and file that are willing to demonstrate in large numbers and, if need be, go out on strike to redress an LAUSD culture that spends money on new and often empty schools, superfluous administrators, and anything other than the fundamental lessening of teacher to student ratio to address the vast majority of all LAUSD students who are functioning far below where they should in the fundamental English and Math skills necessary for academic success.

Several months ago, UTLA proposed raising teachers' dues to address what they correctly identified as the coming assault on a unionized teaching force. When this measure failed to pass, UTLA should have changed their approach to dealing with LAUSD and the clear apathy of its rank and file. Rather than say, "Let's see what the District proposes," which has been the mantra of the last 3 UTLA presidents, Duffy should have stated a clear position derived from the unique daily experience of rank and file to preempt the then foreseeable attack that teachers are now trying to weather.

If you doubt that this is about busting the union, just realize that 50% of teachers are scheduled to retire in the next 10 years, creating a huge need for qualified teachers. Driving young and idealistic people out of the teaching profession will only exacerbate the teacher shortage that looms on the horizon.

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12 2009

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