As Chicago lengthens the school day, Los Angeles keeps shortening the school year. A deal with the teachers union would cancel up to five instruction days in the coming school year and reduce teacher pay by 5 percent. “This would bring to 18 the number of school days cut over four years,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
There is, in fact, a strategic advantage for unions in taking furlough days and shortening the school year. The salary cuts that result are temporary; they expire after one year and must be renegotiated every year.
In the process, teachers avoid making permanent concessions on pension or health benefits. L.A. Unified employees still pay no monthly premiums for health insurance for themselves or family members. And teachers still receive raises based on experience or additional education.
Shortening the school year also “could generate the outrage needed to build public support for boosting state funding,” political analysts say. “You’re not going to mobilize nearly as many people by warning them about the need to renegotiate pension and health benefits,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.
“Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento recommended legislation this week that would allow districts to cut up to three weeks off the next two school years — on top of the five days already approved, if voters fail to approve a tax initiative on the November ballot,” reports the Times. They’re going to kill puppies and kittens too.