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EDUCATION WATCH : Back to Business

The Los Angeles Unified School District and its teachers worked together furiously and wisely over the last few days and appear to have averted a strike. That’s news that deserves applause, long and loud.

Just last week the outlook didn’t seem optimistic. The district and the teachers union were doing their usual political two-step. Nobody seemed to be talking about what the students were supposed to do if teachers were carrying picket signs instead of books when the school year began.

In their discussions, each side gave a little, which is what is supposed to happen in negotiations, and the district eventually offered United Teachers-Los Angeles a contract that union President Helen Bernstein thinks the rank and file can live with.

It’s tough for the teachers to be happy about a contract offer that is not a total restoration of a 10% salary cut they took two years ago. The offer restores 8%. In a time of fiscal constraints and competing demands from other district employees, it’s not easy for the school board to offer even 8%.

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However, the two sides made it all work, and their efforts merit congratulations. The 32,000 members of UTLA are expected to approve the contract offer next month, shortly after most schools open Sept. 12.

School board President Mark Slavkin put things in perspective: “I think we can now go forward this school year focusing on instruction and reform rather than labor negotiations.”

Well said. Now on to the real business at hand--educating Los Angeles’ children.


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