Teachers strike in Los Angeles, citing low pay

 

Los Angeles students are still coming to school today, but they’re being met with unfamiliar faces as substitute teachers step in to fill the gap left by 28,000 striking teachers, who are of course “doing it for the students.”

The dispute is over (what else?) a demanded 6.5% pay raise – teachers insist the district has the money to burn, and want the raise immediately (Friday they rejected an offer from the school district giving them a 6% raise over 2 years). They’re also wanting smaller class sizes and “fully staffed” schools, which include more nurses, librarians, and counselors. The district said meeting every demand would put them more than half a billion dollars in the red.

So in essence, teachers (or, rather, their union bosses, who of course “only have the interests of them and their children at heart) are wanting greater compensation (which means greater union dues) for less work.

Never mind that teaching degrees constitute some of the easiest-earned degrees in the nation, and education students collectively have the lowest SAT scores among matriculating freshmen. GPAs for education majors are nearly a full point higher than those studying math or science. Countless undergraduates joke that if they can’t cut in their challenging classes, they “could always just major in education.”

Don’t tell me teachers weren’t aware they may not receive astronomical salaries, when they were back in college. Don’t tell me they “did it for the children;” how many of us had teachers that “just didn’t care” and were literally counting the minutes until school let out for the day, or the year (or until retirement)? If they really had children’s interests in mind, would they be refusing to come into work, forcing their charges to spend the days on the streets, in front of the television, or in a classroom with a clueless substitute?

The average teacher salary in Los Angeles Unified School District is $75,000. This doesn’t take into account the 3 months’ vacation they get every year, or the excellent benefits package, including retirement benefits that put most other jobs to shame.

The school district serves approximately 640,000 students.

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Photos: Thousands of L.A. Teachers March on Strike

Elementary School Principal/Grinch Ousted

In a rare moment of sanity, a school district in Omaha, Nebraska, placed a principal on administrative leave after she perhaps took the “separation of church and state” idea a little too seriously.

It was discovered that one Jennifer Sinclair, principal of Manchester Elementary School, issued an internal memo banning everything even remotely related to the Christmas holiday, including, of all things, candy canes, supposedly because they are in the shape of J’s (“for Jesus”), and the colors are representative of His blood and resurrection. Teachers were also banned from singing Christmas carols, putting up trees, or referring to reindeer, among other things.

Said memo, referenced below, mentions mandates from Elkhorn School District, and reminds teachers that they need to be sensitive to all religions and cultures. While the principal herself was removed from her post, it sounds like she was just following through with what she believed the district insisted upon. Whether or not she took it too far and is the only one to blame are points of contention.

Acceptable practices:
Gifts to students
Students making gift for a loved one
Snowmen, snow women, snow people, snowflakes
Gingerbread people
Holidays Around the World – purposeful presentation of information to teach about different cultures
Sledding
Hot chocolate
Polar Bears
Penguins
Scarves, boots, earmuffs, and hats
Yetis
Olaf – Frozen

Not acceptable:
Santas or Christmas items (clipart) on worksheets
Christmas trees in classrooms
Elf on the Shelf – that’s Christmas-related
Singing Christmas Carols
Playing Christmas music
Sending a Scholastic book that is a Christmas book – that’s Christmas-related
Making a Christmas ornament as a gift – This assumes that the family has a Christmas tree which assumes they celebrate Christmas. I challenge the thought of, “Well they can just hang it somewhere else.”
Candy Cane – that’s Christmas related. Historically, the shape is a “J” for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection. This would also include different colored candy canes.
Red/Green items – traditional Christmas colors
Reindeer
Christmas videos/movies and/or characters from Christmas movies

When in doubt, ask yourself:
What is the clear instructional purpose of this?
Does this item or activity promote a certain belief or religious (sic)?

Ironically enough, in the same memo a fourth grade trip to see the Nutcracker is mentioned. I wonder if anyone told the principal that this is a Christmas-themed show?

The decision to remove Ms. Sinclair began with nonprofit group centered on Christian values and First Amendment rights, Liberty Counsel, which sent a strongly-worded letter to the district asserting that religious freedom was being infringed upon. They did not advocate for her removal; only for her compliance with what they felt was a more acceptable handling of winter holidays.

While the district policy alluded to by the principal in the full memo (both linked below) is not as harsh as the strict guidelines set forth by Ms. Sinclair to her faculty, the fact that a public school is indeed a secular institution cannot be ignored. It serves to educate the broader community, and while banning Rudolph and the colors red and green may seem a bit ridiculous, government entities are well within their rights to do so, so as to cater to the community as a whole, and not just one specific group, religious or otherwise. If you truly find this unfair, you may be ready to ask yourselves: is this really the best place to educate our children? What other, more serious things are being added to or removed from the curriculum, all in the name of political correctness?

A statement from Elkhorn School District spokesperson, Kara Perchal reads: “Elkhorn Public Schools District administration promptly addressed the issue at Manchester Elementary School regarding the memo that was sent by the principal to Manchester elementary staff. The memo does not reflect the policy of Elkhorn Public Schools regarding holiday symbols in the school. The district has since clarified expectations and provided further direction to staff in alignment with district policy. This issue was limited to Manchester Elementary School and did not arise at any other schools within the district.”

Ms. Sinclair had been in her first year as principal of Manchester Elementary, which serves over 540 students from Kindergarten through fifth grade in the Omaha area.

Elementary school principal placed on leave after banning all things Christmas from classrooms

Letter from Liberty Counsel to Elkhorn Public School District

Manchester Elementary School – Week Ahead Notes: Dec. 3 – Dec. 7

Elkhorn Public Schools – ADMINISTRATIVE RULES AND PROCEDURES TO IMPLEMENT POLICY 604.05

Manchester Elementary