Speaking Truth To Power – Teacher Union Power
Posted by Craig P. Alexander on March 12, 2017
In Sunday’s OC Register (Unions to Blame) is a powerful opinion piece by Cecilia Iglesias, one of the five Trustees for the Santa Ana Unified School District. Recently the Board of Trustees voted 4 to 1 (with Trustee Iglesias as the sole dissenting vote) to send layoff notices to 287 teachers. Why? As Trustee Iglesias points out, the District has had declining enrollment since 2002 and is continued to have this for years to come. What did the teachers’ union and their paid for board majority do in response to this situation: raise teacher pay and ignore basic mathematics. Over the last four years teacher pay in SAUSD has risen over 16% while the projected enrollment figures continued to slide.
Remember – schools receive their money from the state (and the federal) government based on enrollment. So even using Common Core math could not save the teachers’ union and their paid for Trustees from fiscal reality – they don’t have enough money to pay all of their teachers (and other staff too) at the current levels. So they voted to lay off 287 teachers (the actual figure may be less come this fall – but still a significant number). What will happen from this lay off?
First there will be fewer teachers to staff the classrooms. Result: pack the children into more crowded classrooms putting more pressure and responsibility on those teachers that remain. So for example a class with 25 students will grow in size to 30 or 35 students with one teacher. And which teachers will be laid off? The union contract with the school has a “last in, first out” clause – meaning the younger teachers will lose their jobs while older ones keep theirs. And there is absolutely no ability for the District, under this contract, to take into account a teacher’s performance (or lack thereof) in choosing which teachers to lay off.
So who wins in this situation? Obviously union bosses who keep their positions. Older teachers who may be great teachers but there is still no way to judge if all of them are the best performers or not. The four union elected (paid for) Trustees who owe their seats to unions who underwrote their election efforts.
Do parents and students win – Not by any reasonable measure. In fact it can be correctly argued that the District and the union are balancing the books on the backs of the children. The teachers who are laid off? The only way they “win” in this situation is if they find a job in another District that has Trustees that look out after students and parents more than teacher union bosses. Only if that District cares more about teacher performance than seniority. I wish all those teachers who are laid off well and that they find better replacement employment quickly.
How will the parents win in this situation? Very simple – put better Trustees on the board to join Ms. Iglesias to form a pro-student, parent and teacher majority that returns the focus of the District to the best education possible rather than catering to the desires of union bosses.