UTLA Incites War In Education

UTLA is back at it. Once again, rather than focusing on being a partner in education, UTLA continues to be an adversary to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and its students. I am disappointed by the “adults” in the room over a recent speech in which UTLA President, Alex-Caputo-Pearl, said some very disturbing things about the future of UTLA and its relationship with the district, but then doubled down and added that he will recruit other counties in his efforts.  In telling a room of over 800 activists, “The next year-and-a-half must be founded upon building our capacity to strike, and our capacity to create a state crisis, in early 2018,” it seems clear that UTLA is more interested in “creating” a crisis rather than enhancing the education system and the kids in it.

The article illustrates how UTLA wants to double down and increase tension rather than unify to support student growth and learning. Instead of preparing for war, teachers should focus on being a partner in education to help students learn and be successful. I’m concerned about the state of education not just in Los Angeles but everywhere. It’s this kind of attitude that turns people off of the teaching profession. I understand that teachers (like other employees) have rights and that they need to be protected in their jobs. But the idea of worker protection is lost in the rhetoric of  “us versus them” by the teacher union.   Isn’t education supposed to be about kids first?  

Using the children of the LAUSD as pawns to advance your agenda is shameless and needs to end. Teachers have rights, but guess what? The children who come to school every day by law to learn also have rights. On the other hand, no one is forcing these teachers to stay in the profession. Kids don’t have a choice, but the adults do.

UTLA should spend its millions on helping its teachers be better educators rather than beat the drums of war with the district. Caputo-Pearl rallying the troops of teachers all of the state to “fight” against this so-called crisis is downright scary. What is the crisis for these folks? Because it doesn’t seem to be that they continue to produce the least educated students in the country! It isn’t that they are woefully ill prepared to teach the Common Core standards. And it certainly isn’t that they continue to create generations of students who are ill prepared for college or vocational schools.

We should be offended that the only plan to improve education that the teacher unions seem to offer is that they should be paid more and have more benefits!

At this point, everything has been addressed and changed in education in terms of accountability. In terms of holding kids accountable, in terms of holding the system accountable, in terms of creating Common Core, in terms of creating accelerated, rigorous and structured curriculum, the only thing that hasn’t changed is the accountability feature for teachers. At what point do we ask ourselves if maybe we’re not pushing all the wrong buttons?

I know that this is probably going to be offensive to some of you and that some will say that I don’t support teachers. Some might even say that this blog is an attack on the teaching profession. But I feel someone needs to speak the truth. Everyone and everything in the public education system has over gone a deeper sense of accountability…except teachers! Why not?  Why are their rights more important than the students? Why don’t the students have a UTLA to protect their rights and interests?

Teachers should welcome accountability. When I was in the classroom, I wanted to be held accountable and not just because I was proud of the work I did but because I was also not proud of some of the work that my colleagues did. We all need to make it a priority to address the real crisis in education — getting rid of bad teachers in our public education system. UTLA should be leading the charge on that crisis!

So what is really going on here? What is the truth? Are we inadvertently helping to advance the systemic oppression that denies a proper education to students? Do we intend to continue to ignore a system that promotes and protects mostly white teachers who don’t do right by their largely minority students? This is the crisis.

I know that I am not the only one who is annoyed and disgusted by the behavior of certain union leadership when they use kids as their pawns. As a card-carrying member of the CTA, I did not always agree with everything that my union was doing, and it’s okay to feel that way. I think you’ll find there are lots of teachers that can point out exactly who the bad seeds are among them, and UTLA should focus on getting rid of those poor performing teachers rather than focus on putting everyone at risk by disrupting the entire system with what would be an ineffective and irresponsible strike or walk out. Get your priorities straight UTLA!

What do you think?

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Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia is a Mother, Grandmother, former Middle School Teacher, former Member of a School Board of Education and an Education Advocate for hundreds of parents and students in the Inland Empire. Having become a mother at 15, Leticia knows what it’s like to be a single mother trying to navigate the education system. Leticia received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and Public Administration from California Baptist University and a Masters’ Degree in Education Technology from Cal State Fullerton in her 30’s. Leticia has used her knowledge and experience to help hundreds of families as an Education Advocate in the Inland Empire and currently works as an Education Specialist.

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