Teachers’ unions in California have been remarkably successful thus far at using public pressure to keep the government from forcing them to return to their classrooms on even a part-time basis, as workers in virtually every other field in America have done, and as teachers across most of the rest of the country have done.
However, the patience of California parents with the travails of distance-learning has reached such a critical point that even Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), one of the nation’s foremost proponents of COVID-19-inspired lockdowns, has begun to apply pressure on schools to reopen under a “California’s Safe Schools for All” framework.
Still, although Newsom has insisted that his plan will allow schools to reopen safely, he has been so effectively cowed by the teachers’ unions that he has already publicly declared that if the unions won’t allow their teachers to go back to the classroom, he won’t attempt to force them. Instead, his plan will merely provide additional funding that will provide for hiring additional teachers and purchasing additional safety equipment for schools that do choose to reopen.
Even this milquetoast and completely inoffensive plan was egregious enough, however, to cause the Los Angeles Unified school board to vote on Tuesday to authorize the district to sue Newsom over the plan. To re-emphasize, the plan the district plans to file a lawsuit over does not require Los Angeles schools to reopen for in-person learning, it merely provides extra money and resources to the district in case they voluntarily decide to.
Apparently, the Los Angeles Unified School District wants the money the governor has touted in his plan, regardless of whether classrooms are reopened or not. Additionally, Los Angeles school superintendent Austin Beutner has criticized the plan for allegedly not doing enough to address the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on low-income communities.
According to Beutner, “The Governor’s plan does not address the disproportionate impact the virus is having on low-income communities of color,. “It leaves the definition of a ‘safe school environment’ and the ‘standard for reopening classrooms’ up to the individual discretion of 1,037 school districts across the state, creating a patchwork of safety standards in the face of a statewide health crisis. And it reverses a statewide commitment to equity-based funding of schools.”
Politico notes that the district has not yet filed suit because there is not an official law or program yet to sue over, and further notes that the district hopes to avoid litigation on the matter.