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Why Are Teachers in California Going on Strike?

Last fall, Townhall reported how teachers were refusing to work and going on strike despite extorting taxpayers for money throughout the pandemic. Teachers unions organized strikes in Ohio, Washington, and other areas over issues like wages, class sizes, and building conditions. However, funding provided to school districts during the COVID-19 pandemic was meant to be spent to raise teacher salaries and bring teachers out of retirement to get students back on track after lockdowns. 

In addition, COVID-19 funds allocated for schools by the government were meant to be spent to update school HVAC systems for better ventilation post-pandemic. However, reports in the months that followed indicated that most of the funding was never spent and teachers went on strike over issues that were meant to be resolved.

Now, a teachers union in a liberal state is striking over issues unrelated to wages and working conditions. The 3,000-member Oakland Education Association in California is currently striking over climate justice, housing for homeless people, and reparations for black students. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the union’s demands are “far beyond teacher pay or working conditions.” Specifically, the union wants the district to repurpose vacant school buildings for the homeless and to add drought-resistance trees to school yards.

And, the union wants to dedicate the first week of school to focus on making a “positive school culture” and to add a “Climate Justice Day for standards-based teach-in, workshops, action, and field trips.”

“The Oakland Unified School District has lost students for five consecutive years as families have fled to suburbs with higher-performing and safer schools. This has resulted in a financial squeeze, which was only partly mitigated by federal pandemic aid. The district has had to close schools to reduce costs” the WSJ noted. 

And, the district is refusing to bargain over issues unrelated to wages and working conditions. Oakland’s NAACP brand has encouraged the strike to end, by stating “education is critical to ending intergenerational poverty” and that “all students, including the most vulnerable, should be learning and thriving in school.

"Over the past several years, the teachers' unions have made abundantly clear that their absolute last priority is the welfare and achievement of America's schoolchildren," Nicki Neily, president of Parents Defending Education, told Townhall. "The Oakland union in holding disadvantaged children hostage to a set of radical political demands. It's little wonder families have lost trust in the public school system – and until activists like this are removed from power, these hostage negotiations will continue in perpetuity."

Since lockdowns, Townhall has covered how lower academic performance, chronic absenteeism and mental health challenges have become prevalent among students across the country. In 2022, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that more than 40 percent of teenagers felt "sad" or "hopeless" during the pandemic.

In 2020, the Wall Street Journal pointed out that teachers unions used COVID-19 as a “political weapon” and came up with an “ideological wish-list” to return to school.

“Americans are getting a closer look at the true, self-interested character of today’s teachers unions. They are allies of the political left,” the WSJ Editorial Board wrote in August 2020. “And they wield monopoly power that they are now using to coerce parents and taxpayers to dance to their agenda if they want their children to learn.”

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