Sat, May

LAUSD Has Itself to Blame for ‘Teacher Shortage’


EDUCATION POLITICS-Someone once gave me this explanation of the Yiddish word ‘chutzpah’: "It's like killing your mother and father and then throwing yourself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that you're an orphan."

Here’s another good example: the current “shortage of teachers in the LAUSD” which is only a logical result of the well-organized attack on senior top-of-the-salary scale teachers who coincidentally (???) make up 93% of teachers the District continues to target with false morals charges under Education Code Section 44939. Their assertion then deprives these teachers of grievance and arbitration through their union. And ultimately they are sent packing in a purposefully protracted process designed to financially and emotionally grind them down. 

This war on senior teachers could never have succeeded sufficiently to create a teacher shortage without the tacit collusion and outright support of United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) that now has the gall to ask for and receive a 30% rise in dues. It does this at the same time it allows thousands of senior teachers -- and their dues -- to be removed without lifting a finger to come to their aid. This is in defiance of its obligation under Article V, section 1 et seq of the present LAUSD-UTLA Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

With the attack on nationally acclaimed teacher Rafe Esquith and his $1 billion lawsuit brought by the Mark Geragos law firm on his behalf as well as 2000 other similarly targeted teachers, the public has finally been given a window into the completely fabricated process used by LAUSD and their co-conspirators at UTLA to remove thousands of completely innocent teachers. Few in the commercial or public media understand or have published the fact that LAUSD saves approximately $60,000 in combined salary and benefits every time it replaces falsely targeted teachers with fresh out of college "teachers" working on emergency credentials. 

However, as they go after senior teachers solely because they are expensive, it is important to note that neither LAUSD nor UTLA has the power on its own to accomplish such a blatant crime. Clearly, they are getting the greenlight from both the state and federal governments in furtherance of a plan to privatize public education, creating a charter school system that not only doesn't do a better job at educating kids, but actually does a significantly worse job, while costing much, much more. 

Here, the motive is the corporate bottom line: they covet an estimated 40% of the $3 trillion a year national public education budget that is already being significantly impacted by non-competitive contracts for goods and services – contracts that are often many times fair market value, something that augments the bottom lines of these corporations, while negatively impacting public education. 

In such a hostile work environment, is there any surprise that enrollment in teacher credentialing programs is down as much as 70%? Or, one might ask, would this be allowed to continue, if our presently de facto (90%) segregated school system had been integrated according to the legal requirements set out in Brown v Board of Education 62 years ago? 

In the proposed State Auditor's investigation of how school districts like LAUSD remove teachers, it is clear before an investigation takes place as to why it takes so long to remove "bad teachers" and whether such district teacher removal processes are "fair and just in their timeliness and appropriateness," that Representative Tony Mendoza's investigation is only designed to whitewash LAUSD's illegal behavior that has lead to the now critical, yet predictable, shortage of teachers. 

This investigation seems more motivated as a response to the Rafe Esquith lawsuit than to any real desire to uncover illegal attacks on senior teachers who are deemed “too expensive” or who have objected to going along with district policies to socially promote students – students who are then assured of future academic failure, given the fundamental deficiencies they have in all academic areas. These deficiencies exist and yet continue to be ignored by LAUSD and minority segregated districts like it around the country. 

Proposing that "market forces" be allowed to rule how teachers are selected degrades the very nature of what it is to be a highly competent well-trained professional teacher. It supports, instead, the hiring of novice fresh-out-of-college 20-somethings whose only attribute is that they cost less and are projected to not stay on the job for more than 3 years. One need only look at the clear disparity between what charter schools like PUC pay their teachers and what a unionized teacher at LAUSD makes in salary and benefits to understand the monetary motive for getting rid of expensive senior teachers in favor of unformed recent college graduates who are working on emergency credentials for little money.


(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at [email protected]) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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