Chantal Lovell: LA teachers union tantrum – here’s how not to run a school district

Parent Kusema Thomas discusses the difficulties of remote learning on ‘America’s Newsroom’

 Everyone knows not to buy a candy bar for the child screaming in a checkout line. Giving into a tantrum will only lead to more, and soon, the toddler will be in control.  

Surprisingly, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education – which should understand basic psychology – appears to have missed this universally known fact, and the toddler-like United Teachers Los Angeles is in charge now.  

Worse, the board keeps piling candy on the conveyor belt, and the union continues to kick and scream and make a scene. Many of these concessions, including the latest one, were given with nothing in return from the union. Not even a commitment to return to the classroom next fall. 


Notably, the LAUSD has met or exceeded all of the union’s demands directly related to mitigating pandemic threats and fears.  

School staff received priority vaccinations and have had months to get fully vaccinated. The district implemented mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for students, even preschoolers and students with disabilities that may struggle to have their nose swabbed.  

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There’s distancing between desks that exceeds CDC guidance and prevents a full reopening, a $120 million upgrade to ventilation systems, masking requirements, cleaning protocols, and more.  

Los Angeles County is long out of the state’s most-restrictive COVID-19 tier, and is now squarely in its least restrictive one, an improvement that far exceeds UTLA’s demand that LA simply move into the second-most-restrictive tier before its members will return to work.  

The latest giveaway, as reported by the Los Angeles Daily News – provides added flexibility to teachers who have child care issues, allowing them to continue working from home, have a colleague teach their in-person students, leave campus during the already-limited day to pick up kids from child care, etc. This comes a month after the district caved to the union’s demands for free child care, and offered teachers a $500 monthly, per child stipend to cover such expenses. 

 By demanding free child care, and then permission to leave the classroom to care for their own children, the union shows its hand. Caring for one’s own children isn’t a side effect of a global pandemic, but rather, an example of not letting a good crisis go to waste.  

 Since California public schools shut their doors to students in March 2020, the powerful union has successfully extracted from the district shortened workdays (to less than half the typical day, at times), defunding school police, suspension of evaluations for tenured teachers, laxed standardized testing for the second year in a row, and the child care giveaways noted above.  

It has refused proposals to teach from empty classrooms to utilize instructional aids like white boards, or to add 10 days on to the 2021-2022 school year to help make up the dramatic learning loss students have suffered.   

 To be fair, the United Teachers Los Angeles hasn’t gotten every superfluous thing it wants. In July, it issued a ransom note/”study” in which it said a return to the classroom would hinge on concessions including “Medicare-for-all,” new taxes on high-earners, an expansive defunding of police, a moratorium on charter schools, and more.  


 California’s COVID-19 rate is the lowest in the country, yet its schools remain among the least-open in the nation. Undoubtedly, LAUSD – the nation’s second-largest school district with a student population exceeding 600,000 – skews this metric because the vast majority of its students see the inside of a classroom at most a few hours a week. With each passing study, we find students, particularly Black and Brown students, are falling further behind in core subjects and are suffering greater emotional damage.  

So, what’s the holdup in fully returning to work, if not this year, then by fall?  

Simple: more. 


In her latest update, UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz hinted at what’s ahead for LAUSD. “At UTLA, we will continue to push the envelope of what is possible, because we can do it, and we must do it,” she said, saying the union will push its agenda “every chance we get.” 

The LAUSD Board of Education has taught the UTLA it can get what it wants so long as it screams loud enough. As we approach yet another school year at risk of being destroyed by a petulant union, may the adults take back control, put Myart-Cruz and her minions on time out, and tell everyone to get back to work.  


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