Union is trying to protect students

The loss of 125 classroom teachers that Glendale Unified School District students will be facing next year was left out of the Nov. 3 editorial, "Union’s position is a loss for students."

The district, in its first draft of the Race to the Top Grant, wrote, “researchers agree that teachers are the ‘single most important factor in how much children learn (Calvin & Johnson, 2007).’” And yet, the district gets no criticism for its planned increase in K-3 class sizes of at least six students per classroom and another increase in class size, many already at or over 40 students, in secondary schools.

The ever-increasing class size is the most negative consequence for our community’s students and yet, the teacher association is lambasted in the press for our attempt to protect the students.

In 2011, our community was promised that the passage of Measure S would free up $20 million to ensure that class sizes remained stable and that there would be no furlough days. The identified “freed up” $20 million is still in the accounts that were identified when the district was begging Glendale residents to pass its bond measure. Additionally, should Proposition 30 pass, the district’s revenues and expected expenditures (excluding Measure S overruns and loans for solar energy) remain the same as in 2011. Nonetheless, the district maintains five furlough days on the books for next school year and is planning huge classroom size increases next year.

The teacher association gave one proposal to the district in our negotiations on the Race to the Top grant; if the district received the grant money and Proposition 30 or 38 passed, keep teachers in the classroom and their health benefits stable and we would sign off on the Race to the Top grant. The district refused.

It is sad teachers are being demonized for advocating for what the district itself acknowledges as the single most important factor in how much children learn, the classroom teacher. And the teachers’ ability to do their best wanes every time the district increases class size. If we really care about student learning, tell the district to be fiscally responsible and use its promised “freed up” money to keep class size stable instead of using it for project overruns and solar energy loans. If we cannot lower it, maintaining our present class size is the single most important thing we can do for Glendale students.

Tami Carlson

Editor's note: The writer is president of the Glendale Teachers Assn.

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