Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LA schools settlement draws UTLA's ire

The union response is LA is all too predictable (this commentary is from Ed Reform Radar, by the Education Action Group Foundation (you can sign up directly at: https://app.e2ma.net/app/view:Join/signupId:41826/mailingId:3145085/acctId:24830): 


October 7, 2010


LA schools settlement draws UTLA's ire

Union threatens lawsuit over seniority changes


By Steve Gunn

EAG Communications


     LOS ANGELES – William Safire once said that "the right to do something does not mean that doing it is right."
     That message certainly rings true in the Los Angeles school district, where the United Teachers Los Angeles is threatening legal action after the district recently agreed to amend its layoff policy to consider factors other than seniority. 
     The district agreement is the result of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Southern California and other groups which effectively made the case that low-income minority students are disproportionately affected by layoffs because they are more often taught by less senior teachers.     

     The union-contrived seniority system "effectively decimated the staffs of three schools serving low-income minority students," the LA Times reports.
     The court agreement would ensure that no school suffers a disproportionate number of layoffs when staff cuts are necessary. The move would instead spread layoffs district wide by capping the number pink slips at nearly all schools. That could result in more layoffs in affluent areas, where some experienced teachers could be let go while their less senior counterparts at low-income schools stay on.

     Some believe the agreement could set a precedent in the nation's second largest school district, prompting a domino effect of similar deals in other school systems across the country. We believe that the arrangement is certainly an improvement to the current way schools do business, but other problems inherent in the seniority system will persist until it's abolished completely.
     The teachers union's response to the settlement was as predictable as sunrise.
     Union bosses "angrily denounced" the agreement yesterday and President A.J. Duffy said the UTLA would be "obligated to challenge … if it doesn't serve the best interests of students," the LA Times reports.
     Apparently, Duffy either doesn't understand what the lawsuit is about in the first place or he's deliberately attempting to erode what little credibility the UTLA has left.
     Duffy is also crying foul because he contends that the union wasn't part of crafting the agreement, but Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel for ACLU of Southern California said "the union voluntarily absented itself from the negotiations," the LA Times reports.
     The union was called to participate several times, Rosenbaum said.
     Many believe the UTLA's childish silent treatment is a sure sign that teachers unions are on the retreat.

     "It's another step in the gradual erosion in the influence of the union," Dominic Brewer, an education professor at UNC told the LA Times. "I wouldn't underestimate them … but people are more willing to question whether the positions of the unions are in the best interests of kids."
     The UTLA's long track record of fighting against reforms designed to improve student academics and provide all students equal opportunities to quality instruction speaks for itself.
     While it appears that the UTLA is serious about its threat to snuff out the rare flicker of hope the settlement provides to students who need it most – and it may have a valid legal claim – the move is definetly a loser in the court of public opinion.


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