Teachers Unions Try To Protect Their Monopoly as Parents Flee Traditional Schools
A coalition of California parents is suing the state on the grounds that poor and special-needs children in particular have received inadequate instruction during the shutdown.
School districts around the country are weighing students’ education needs against the danger that in-person instruction could cause COVID-19 to spread. And teachers unions are understandably concerned about protecting their members’ health.
But in Los Angeles, the teachers union is exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to prevent competition from charter schools, which are seeing a surge of new applicants from desperate parents.
The United Teachers Los Angeles co-signed a document with nine other unions and the Democratic Socialists of America calling for a moratorium on all new charter schools and private voucher programs. A union-backed bill signed into law last October might accomplish that, as it gives local school boards more power to stop new charter schools from opening and existing ones from renewing their charters.
“It’s about protecting a monopoly from losing any students and the funding that goes along with those students,” says Corey DeAngelis, director of school choice at the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason TV.
He says entrenched interests are trying to stop families from exercising choice.
“If you really care about students and their safety, you should want more options for more students to be able to spread out in different locations,” says DeAngelis. “And this doesn’t do that. But what it does do is it allows the teachers unions to block students from switching to their competition.”
Families are flocking to charters in part because they were poorly served by district schools in the spring. The United Teachers Los Angeles, which declined our interview request, successfully pressured the district to limit their members to 4-hour workdays and to give them the choice of opting out of live video instruction. In Chicago, nearly half of the district’s elementary school teachers logged in to the virtual learning system less than three days a week.
One recent survey found that private or charter schools were more than twice as likely to meet with students daily than teachers at district-run schools and 20 percent more likely to introduce new content.
In addition to the charter school moratorium, United Teachers Los Angeles is insisting that before the district can reopen it needs an additional $250 million in overall funding, a federal bailout, Medicare for All, a new wealth tax, a new millionaires tax, and defunding of the police, among other demands.
“Normal wasn’t working for us before,” the union asserts, and “we can’t go back.”
Oregon and Pennsylvania have also cut off additional funding for charter schools. DeAngelis points to comments from the president of the state’s association of school administrators in Pennsylvania, who stated his intention to handicap virtual charter
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