LA Teachers Union on Opening Schools: Medicare for All, Defund Police, New Wealth Tax, End Charter Schools

By Andrew Davenport | July 15, 2020 | 11:46am EDT
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

(CNS News) – In order to fully fund the “safe and equitable start of school” in Los Angeles this fall, the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union is demanding that politicians implement a variety of measures and funding at the federal, state, and local levels. These include a federal bailout of at least $500 billion for the schools; Medicare for All; a $10 billion wealth tax; a $4.5 million millionaire tax; defunding of the police; and ending charter schools.

In their July 2020 report, The Same Storm, but Different Boats: The Safe and Equitable Conditions for Starting LAUSD in 2020-21, the union claims its members “clearly want to get back into schools with their students.” But then the UTLA asks how can it do so “given broader societal conditions” caused by COVID-19 and also protect its “most vulnerable students and school communities.” 

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(Getty Images)

“The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States underscores the deep equity and justice challenges arising from our profoundly racist, intensely unequal society,” states the teachers union.  “Unlike other countries that recognize protecting lives is the key to protecting livelihoods, the United States has chosen to prioritize profits over people.”

“The Trump administration’s attempt to force people to return to work on a large scale depends on restarting physical schools so parents have childcare,” says UTLA. “In Los Angeles, this means increasing risk especially in Black and Brown working communities….”

The report then discusses COVID-19 at length and how it has affected communities and students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

(Screenshot, UTLA website)
(Screenshot, UTLA website)

The report also details how COVID-19 “best practices” can be implemented in the L.A. public schools and what the role is of the federal, state and local governments.

In the Federal Support category the first item listed is “Federal Bailout.” This item notes that the L.A. public schools need nearly $1 billion a year to meet the needs of students with disabilities and adds, “Many experts are calling for at least $500 billion in additional federal assistance this year, and a commitment to continue support over several years.” 

Another item calls to “Fully Fund IDEA,” the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, and asks for an additional “$12 billion in IDEA funding to ensure school districts across the country are able to meet the needs of students with disabilities.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Then the teachers union checklist demands “Medicare for All.” “Coronavirus shows definitively why we need Medicare For All,” claims the union.  … The boundless greed of the for-profit health industry, combined with this country’s deeply ingrained racism, has led to race-based health disparities that have resulted in excess deaths especially among Black communities long before the pandemic further widened the health gap.”

At the state level, the teachers union wants property taxes reassessed, which apparently will bring in $7.5 billion to $12 billion a year “with 40% allocated to schools….” The union also wants a “wealth tax” of 1% on “unrealized capital gains,” which allegedly would generate $10 billion a year.” The teachers also demand a “millionaire tax,” which would add a “1% surtax on incomes over $1 million a year, and 3% for over $3 million a year. This would generate an estimated $4.5 billion-plus a year.”

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

At the local level, the teachers union wants to “Defund Police.”  As the union explains, “Police violence is a leading cause of death and trauma for Black people, and is a serious public health and moral issue. We must shift the astronomical amount of money devoted to policing, to education and other essential needs such as housing and public health.”

As for the charter schools, there must be a “moratorium” on them, according to the teachers union. “Privately operated, publicly funded charter schools drain resources from district schools,” claims the union,  “and many have ‘double-dipped’ during this crisis by taking federal small business bailout loans even though state funding did not decline this school year. In addition, colocation adds students to campuses when we need to reduce the number of students to allow for physical distancing.”

Among other demands, the teachers union want more paid sick leave for the parents of L.A. students; housing for homeless and low-income residents; and “financial support for undocumented students and families.”

At the report’s end the teachers union states, “As it stands, the only people guaranteed to benefit from the premature physical reopening of schools amidst a rapidly accelerating pandemic are billionaires and the politicians they’ve purchased.”

The UTLA has 33,000 teachers who represent more than 1,000 schools, which includes most of the city of Los Angeles. It is the second-largest teachers union in the nation.

An internal poll from UTLA showed that 83% of members in the union said that schools should not physically reopen on August 18.

Both President Trump and his administration have continued to push for schools to reopen this fall. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos told CNN in a July 12 interview, “the rule should be that kids go back to school this fall,” and that any coronavirus hotspots can be “dealt with on a school-by-school or a case-by-case basis.”

President Trump has suggested ending federal funding to the public schools that do not open in the fall.

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