Union attitude a loss for students

In the highly competitive federal Race to the Top — the grant program that holds the promise of up to $40 million over four years to school districts — this city’s teachers union did its best to undercut Glendale Unified’s application.

And by most accounts, it worked.

But in this competition, there are only losers, including one group that had no player on the field: students.

Over the course of several weeks and several rounds of negotiations, the Glendale Teachers Assn. played rough, refusing to sign onto the grant application for a number of reasons.

The union’s first play involved apprehension over the federal grant’s requirement that student test scores be factored into teacher job evaluations. Union leaders then tapped the playbook of their counterparts in Los Angeles by claiming the one-time infusion of grant money would, after being exhausted, saddle the school district with more expenses, thereby worsening the financial picture.

Glendale Unified officials countered that the grant money couldn’t be used for teacher salaries, and were confident that in four years, they’d be able to find a way to work the new programs into the fabric of the district’s operating budget.

No doubt sensing an opportunity, Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson then demanded the district commit to no layoffs next year in exchange for her required signature on the Race to the Top application. And that’s where the two sides got locked into a stalemate that lasted into overtime.

Glendale Unified this week sent a 503-page Hail Mary pass to Washington D.C. sans Carlson’s signature, but the odds aren’t good.

So here’s what the scorecard looks like:

The union affectively killed Glendale’s shot at up to $40 million because it didn’t get assurances on layoffs. Now, the district likely will carry out layoffs next year regardless, and will do so without the grant money that would have supported teacher aides and student counseling programs.

For those keeping score at home, that’s a loss for the union, a loss for students and a loss for the school district.

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