Second Thoughts About Strikes

Kudos to public radio station KQED for this story on Raymond Pulliam, an Oakland schoolteacher whose feelings about that district’s “historic” strike changed radically once it was over.

Pulliam was a strike captain who encouraged fellow teachers to go on strike in February. Now he says he has misgivings about that.

“I felt as if I was taking my soldiers into a winless fight,” he said. “Yes, we all took a financial hit. I feel so sorry about those who also took that hit, but may or may not have been prepared for the type of losses that they received.”

Now, he and his family are leaving California and moving to northern Virginia next month.

“I’m gone. I put a good fight in,” he said. “I tried. I gave it all my all. And, Godspeed. That’s all I can say.”

Pulliam said the strike, and the disappointment with the deal teachers eventually received, played into that decision.

“All of the things that I experienced during the strike symbolized a microcosm of what’s happening across California,” Pulliam said. “You’re losing more than you’re gaining. We decided that we need to get out of this web and move to where things make more sense.”

There is no collective bargaining for public school teachers in Virginia.


LA Unified & UTLA Use Cherry-Picked Funding Numbers

Officials from the Los Angeles Unified School District and United Teachers Los Angeles keep pleading poverty because, they say, California is in the bottom 10 states when it comes to per-pupil spending.

Even if we accept that, where does Los Angeles rank in spending among school districts, both nationally and in California?

The numbers may surprise you. Check them out in my weekly column at LA School Report.


Defeated State Union President Takes Job With Local Union

Last year Florida Education Association delegates unexpectedly elected Fedrick Ingram as president, ousting Joanne McCall, the one-term incumbent. McCall’s unusual defeat was apparently due to her poor relationship with FEA’s local presidents.

McCall returned to teaching in January 2019, but the appeal of the classroom couldn’t compete with the prospect of the position of executive director of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.

McCall told the Tampa Bay Times the position would be a nice “change of pace.”

Maybe not. PCTA was the home of a bitter contract dispute with its own staff in 2017, which resulted in protests, picketing of an event featuring Randi Weingarten, and a series of unfair labor practice complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, two of which are still open cases.


New (Haven) Math

Teachers in the New Haven Unified School District in California voted 302 to 200 to ratify a two-year contract, ending a 14-day strike.

“Our unity with each other on the picket lines was an incredible display of power that resulted in some real gains for our union,” said Joe Ku’e Angeles, president of the New Haven Teachers Association. “We have made history together.”

The history may be great, but the math isn’t.

The new contract gives teachers a 3 percent raise this year, but effective only on January 1. They will get an additional 3 percent next year. The district also granted a one-time 2.5 percent bonus for this year.

For a teacher previously earning $75,000, that’s a one-time bonus of $1,875, an effective raise of $1,125 this year, and an additional $2,284 next year (3% of $76,125). That’s a total of $5,284 more money.

Unfortunately for New Haven teachers, there is a flip side to this ledger. The union’s bargaining chair “acknowledged that teachers overall lost 7.5 percent of their salaries while striking, so those retiring this year will lose money for their efforts.”

Not just retirees. That $75,000 teacher lost $5,625 during the strike, leaving her $341 in the hole even at the end of the second year.

And that’s assuming the district was offering nothing. In fact, the district’s last offer before the strike was a 3 percent bonus and a 1 percent increase. That’s at least $3,000 in additional money without a strike, depending on whether the increase was for the first year or second.

The union’s last offer before the strike was for a 10 percent raise over two years.

Looking at these numbers, we can see why 200 teachers voted no. But we can also see why 302 voted yes — to cut their losses.


Per-Pupil Spending for the 25 Largest School Districts

We often see state and national per-pupil spending figures reported in the news, but the statistic seldom appears for local school districts. Fortunately the U.S. Census Bureau compiles these numbers, and many more, for each of our more than 13,000 school districts.

These are for 2017, and I have listed the districts in order of school enrollment:

New York City -$25,199
Los Angeles – $13,549
Chicago – $13,488
Miami-Dade County – $9,240
Clark County (NV) – $8,973
Broward County (FL) – $9,055
Houston – $9,716
Hillsborough County (FL) – $8,934
Orange County (FL) – $9,272
Palm Beach County (FL) – $9,782
Fairfax County (VA) – $14,498
Hawaii (statewide district) – $14,322
Gwinnett County (GA) – $9,598
Wake County (NC) – $8,597
Montgomery County (MD) – $16,109
Dallas – $10,086
Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC) – $8,998
Philadelphia – $11,741
Prince Georges County (MD) – $15,560
Duval County (FL) – $9,048
San Diego – $11,708
Cypress-Fairbanks (TX) – $8,283
Cobb County (GA) – $9,951
Baltimore County – $14,256
Shelby County (TN) – $10,682