Education Reform

UTLA Rejects “Insulting Propsal” by Beutner

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The United Teachers of Los Angeles has already authorized a strik if necessary.

The proposal by Superintendent Austin Beutner brings a strike closer. He is a former equity investor, briefly publisher of the LA Times, and board member of the company that owns the National Enquirer. He grew up in Holland, Michigan, where his father was a top executive in the DeVos empire. He has no experience in dictation.

The UTLA reacted to his propsal.

Attached is UTLA’s response to Beutner’s latest (proposed two days prior to the first meeting of UTLA with a govt-appointed mediator.)

Breaking: Beutner Offers Insulting Bargaining Proposal

After refusing to negotiate for 56 days and two days before mediation, Supt. Austin Beutner today announced a bargaining proposal through the LA Times before giving it to UTLA and the 33,000 educators we represent.

In a stunning example of disrespect to LAUSD educators and students, his so-called proposal offers a 3 percent salary increase with another 3 percent contingent on district finances, increased workload and cuts to salary point opportunities, while also making it more difficult to qualify for secure healthcare in retirement. The proposal on class size is unacceptable, and makes no improvements for 90% of our schools. He made no movement on Section 1.5, which allows the district to increase class size at anytime, rendering his proposal useless.

“Beutner’s proposal does nothing to make our schools better. This is an insult to our members, to our students and to our parents,” said Arlene Inouye, Chair of the Bargaining Team. “This stunt reveals he is more interested in fighting against educators at any cost than saving our school district.”

This proposal was sent to the LA Times and various special interest blogs like Speak Up before it was sent to the UTLA bargaining team.

Beutner continues to refuse to use the $1.86 billion in reserves. His proposal does not provide relief from toxic over-testing, does nothing to address the undermining of our schools by privatization and makes no investment in community schools, counselors, nurses, or other critical staff. It does nothing to reinvest in special education, early education, adult and bilingual education.

“Our 98% strike vote and our growing parent and community support are a powerful affirmation of our bargaining proposals, which call for a better future in LAUSD. Our vote is also an indictment of Beutner, an out-of-touch millionaire whose grand plan is to starve our schools of resources rather than reinvest in them,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl. “Beutner’s proposal attempts to buy us off with a modest salary increase. But we can see through it. This is the beginning of the war on healthcare and an acceleration of a downsizing that will drive students and families away rather than attract them to the district.”

Read Beutner’s full proposal here, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Since I began work as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, I’ve visited about 50 schools and listened to the stories of many students. One young man — I’ll call him Sam — has faced a lot of adversity: an abusive and incarcerated father, learning challenges, placement in foster care and taking responsibility for his younger siblings. Yet he is still at school every day, aiming for a career as an aeronautical engineer.

Sam’s courage and resilience are inspiring. We need to demonstrate that same kind of courage and resilience to improve Los Angeles schools. District data show that out of 100 students entering high school, 12 will drop out, 79 will graduate and only 12 will earn a college degree. The status quo is not good enough. We have work to do and the kids are counting on us.

At every school I’ve visited, I have also met caring, dedicated, hardworking teachers who are doing everything they can to help students like Sam — engaging them in the classroom, overseeing after-school clubs, working evenings and weekends to develop lesson plans, and finding time to work one-on-one with youngsters who need specific help. There are great teachers in all of our schools. Los Angeles Unified needs to pay them better, and provide them with more support and more professional development.

There are great teachers in all of our schools. Los Angeles Unified needs to pay them better.

That is why Los Angeles Unified made a contract offer today to United Teachers of Los Angeles that provides for a fair pay raise for teachers, additional teachers in high-needs schools, teacher pay aligned with student needs, and increased transparency in our labor contracts.

Los Angeles Unified proposes to add teachers and reduce class size at 15 middle schools and 75 elementary schools in communities that have the highest needs. The offer includes additional pay for teachers who take courses in STEAM curriculum (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), in dual language instruction, in early literacy intervention and other areas that help teachers better support their students. It provides for a 6% pay raise for all teachers, which would match agreements we’ve already reached with our administrators, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and office workers, who represent more than 60% of the district’s workforce. And we’ll create a “plain language” version of the UTLA contract to help students, families and communities to have a voice in all of the issues the contract covers.

We are eager to discuss these proposals with UTLA when we begin mediation on Sept. 27, as part of the state-mandated negotiation process. Our offer creates a pathway for the district and the union to avoid a strike that would hurt L.A.’s most vulnerable students and families. Los Angeles Unified is committed to the lawful bargaining process, but we also remain open to any other way to resolve the issues fairly and transparently.
Los Angeles Unified and UTLA want many of the same things — smaller class sizes, better pay for teachers, and additional teachers, counselors, librarians and support staff in every school. But we need more money to pay for those things; we can only spend what we have. UTLA’s “last, best and final” offer would bankrupt L.A. Unified and lead to the unprecedented layoffs of about 12,000 employees, including teachers. Los Angeles Unified simply cannot agree to do that.

I share the teachers’ frustration that in just a generation, California has gone from top of the charts in education funding and student achievement to near the bottom. That is not acceptable; something must be done. The question is what?

Teacher strikes across the country in the last year have been statewide, not local actions. That’s because state legislatures control education funding. Los Angeles Unified gets about 90% of its funding from Sacramento. Instead of L.A. Unified and UTLA fighting each other, we should, together with our other labor partners, students, families and communities, jump on our yellow school buses and head to the Capitol to start working to increase funding for public education. The current per student amount of $16,000 is simply not enough.

I’m the son of an immigrant and a schoolteacher and the proud product of public education. I would not have the privilege of leading Los Angeles Unified without the strong foundation my public education provided. It is my singular goal to help rebuild public education and make sure all Los Angeles Unified students get the great education they deserve.

Austin Beutner is superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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