Education Scores Plummet Amid Massive Teachers’ Union Strike

On the second day of a strike staged by tens of thousands of employees in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), over 400,000 students have been affected with hundreds of campuses forced to close and classes cancelled. The Service Employees International Union, Local 99 is spearheading the strike, which comprises of 30,000 support workers in the LAUSD, including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, special education assistants, and gardeners. The union is demanding a massive 30% pay increase citing that many employees earn a little more than the minimum wage and cannot meet their cost of living expenses in California. The Los Angeles teachers’ union urged its 35,000 members to join the strike in solidarity.

CEO Aaron Withe of the Freedom Foundation dubbed the strike “unconscionable” and pointed out the hundreds of thousands of teachers that quit teachers’ unions since the beginning of the pandemic. “More than 140,000 teachers have quit the national teachers’ unions since the COVID shutdowns began, and it’s easy to see why – they’re sick of the teachers’ unions politicizing the classrooms,” Withe said. He faulted the emphasis on political preference over what’s best for the students, as UTLA president Cecily Myart-Cruz called for the strike so that green schools and a focus on emotional learning can be implemented.

Among other issues that affected the LAUSD before the pandemic was absenteeism; currently, the figures show up to 50,000 students were absent on the initial day of the 2022-2023 school calendar. Disturbingly, this has resulted in the historic loss of learning that students experienced during the lockdowns, where they missed months of in-person tutoring, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Scores of math and reading among nine-year-old students have fallen across all classes and income levels for two years; hence, the massive effect of not attending classes in-person learning has impacted their performance significantly. It’s been established that students who were falling behind before the pandemic are now trailing even further; the 90th percentile showing a 3% drop in math scores, while students in the 10th percentile fell 12 points. To make matters worse, average nine-year-old scores have recorded a drop in math 17% since records began and reading since 1990.

The LAUSD saw a sharp drop-off in proficiency amongst students in nearly all grade levels in English and math. Preliminary data shows the number of LAUSD students who met or exceeded the state’s standards in English has dropped by about two percent since the pre-pandemic 2018-2019 season, from 43.9% to 41.7%, while Math has dropped by five percent from 33.5% to 28.5%. According to Carvalho, this devastating impact on learning underscores how “there is no substitute for in-person instruction.”

Written by Staff Reports

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