To the editor: The Los Angeles Unified School District administration is essentially forcing us teachers to vote for a strike so it takes us seriously as professionals who are devoted to the students.
When teachers are treated like outdated and unimportant cogs in a school system, then you foster a demoralized and poor atmosphere for learning. If you don’t pay and treat teachers well, those who can get better jobs will leave, and the district will be left with inexperienced teachers or people who just can’t get a better job.
I left 14 years of practicing law to become a teacher. People thought I was crazy to drop to a fraction of my salary, but I believe that teaching our next generation is the most important thing I can do. But I am rare, and these days so is my longevity of more than 20 years.
All three of my children graduated from LAUSD, and they went to Yale, UCLA and Northwestern. But these days I would have a hard time justifying sending my children to LAUSD (or those charters, which have less accountability). I wish all those millionaires and politicians who have never taught but want to run the school district had to send their children to public school — then our public schools would be wonderful.
Carla Schiller, Tarzana
To the editor: The impasse between United Teachers Los Angeles and the district is troubling because the losers in this contract battle are children.
Parents don’t want to see children lose learning days, nor can we afford to lose workdays, because those entrusted with public education are unable to come to an agreement. We also don’t wish to see specialized programs such as magnets gutted.
There is great value in the magnet schools at some of the LAUSD’s highest-performing campuses. Both my daughters attended magnets and enjoyed the unique programs that required qualified instructors to teach challenging coursework. Improving our schools begins with quality instruction in each classroom, not just class-size reduction and additional hires.
While the district’s financial problems won’t be solved overnight, what’s clear here is that the district, UTLA and families are fighting over morsels when it comes to education funding. We need collaboration between all stakeholders so we can push the state to reinvest in education.
Evelyn Aleman, Reseda
To the editor: Where were all the folks hoping to avert a teachers strike when Los Angeles school board member George McKenna and his colleague Scott Schmerelson suggested back in June that the district needed money to meet the city’s goals of better schools and instruction?
They proposed some fees that would have helped class-size reductions, provided additional support and safety staff for schools, and built up the financial reserves to keep the district moving in the better directions.
Perhaps all of these folks can come together and put something on the ballot this spring and work together rather than squabble on the playground. There are far too many good educators in this district to have people rowing in different directions when we are still in a drought of resources for California’s public schools.
David Tokofsky, Los Angeles
The writer is a former LAUSD school board member.
To the editor: More and more I see policy issues where both sides are correct.
Teachers in Southern California are woefully underpaid based on their skill, inflation and cost of living. Yes, the district has reserve funds, but if the teachers and other district employees get what they need and deserve, that money will run out.
Neither side is to blame for this impasse, as this is a case of Proposition 13 coming home to roost. I don’t ever see homeowners voting to take away their sacred tax savings.
Ron Garber, Duarte