Commentary: ‘The root cause of teacher strikes is found not in Oakland or Los Angeles, but in Sacramento’

“2019 is becoming the Year of the Teacher Strike, a phenomenon four decades in the making,” CSBA CEO and Executive Director Vernon M. Billy writes in a new opinion piece in The Sacramento Bee, pointing out recent strikes in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and the New Haven Unified School District in the Bay Area.

“Since the 1970s, California has consistently shortchanged public education and tarnished a school system which was once the state’s crown jewel,” Billy says. “Forty years ago, California schools were rated in the top five nationally in per-pupil funding and had the results to match. Today, the state ranks 41st in per-student funding, 50th in student-teacher ratio, 48th in student-administrator ratio, 49th in overall student-staff ratio, 49th in guidance counselors and 50th in librarians.

So, when teachers in LA and Oakland take to the streets for better wages, smaller class sizes and additional resources, they have ample data to support their position. After all, California boasts the fifth-largest economy in the world yet languishes near the bottom in every national measure of school funding and school staffing….

Ultimately, the fight is not between labor and management nor between teachers and administrators, but between those who are committed to public education and a state that refuses to provide students with the resources they need.

The root cause of teacher strikes is found not in Oakland or Los Angeles, but in Sacramento. It’s here, in the state capital, that lawmakers have failed to prioritize funding schools at a level that meets the needs of every student and prepares them for success in college, career and civic life. This lack of will has resulted in school funding that trails the rest of the country.”

Read the full column here.