A Tumultuous School Year Winds Down

Published May 21, 2024
end of school year

As the school year nears completion, a quick look at recent developments shows an education system in turmoil. The unions are more political than ever, their demands are shameless, lawsuits against the establishment abound, and school choice is rapidly expanding.


Americans for Fair Treatment, a national organization that supports public employees, reveals a startling fact: the NEA currently spends $10 million more on politics and lobbying than it does on representing its members. Similarly, the American Federation of Teachers saw a significant increase in its political spending, with $46.9 million allocated in 2023, a $11.2 million surge from the previous reporting period. These figures underscore the financial weight of the unions’ political activities.

Teachers’ unions, traditionally active in domestic politics, have now expanded their sphere of influence to foreign policy. This shift was exemplified by Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, who made a public statement on X several months ago calling for a permanent truce in the Middle East—a stance endorsed by the organization’s board of directors. This shift in the union’s activities marks a new era in their political engagement.

The Massachusetts NEA affiliate also approved a motion about the Middle East conflagration. “The MTA President and Vice President will urge the president of the NEA to pressure President Biden to stop funding and sending weapons in support of the Netanyahu government’s genocidal war on the Palestinian people in Gaza,” the motion read.

Union Demands And Strikes

Despite serious competition, the Chicago Teachers Union has emerged as the most crazed teachers’ union in the country. On May 15, hundreds of teachers ditched school to lobby lawmakers in Springfield for an extra $1.1 billion they claim the state owes the city. At the union’s request, the Chicago school district rolled over and granted the field trip as a paid day off. All this is just a warm-up for June when negotiations for a new contract get underway.

CTU’s boatload of demands includes 9% annual raises for all teachers, $2,500 retirement bonuses, fully paid abortions for all members, housing subsidies for CTU staff and Chicago Public School families, total teacher autonomy over the curriculum, weight-loss drug coverage for all members, ad nauseam. CTU president Stacy Davis Gates proclaims the new contract would cost taxpayers $50 billion.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is facing an anticipated fiscal cliff as enrollment continues to plummet and the over $4 billion received by the district in federal Covid-era Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) aid winds down.

LAUSD was home to 737,000 students twenty years ago, but that number has now dwindled to 430,000. Student enrollment dropped by more than 70,000 students between the 2017-18 and 2021-22 school years, but the school district blithely added over 10,000 new employees during that five-year period.

But now, with the expiration of state and federal pandemic aid necessitating cutbacks, the unionistas are in a snit. The United Teachers Los Angeles and SEIU Local 99, the local union representing district support staff, rallied outside a school board meeting to protest the district’s budget.

UTLA’s current contract includes a 21% salary increase, and SEIU Local 99 negotiated a 30% wage increase last year, but union members still want more.Los Angeles Times education writer Howard Blume reports that angry union leaders lashed out against Supt. Alberto Carvalho at last week’s school board meeting, demanding that he fulfill a “pledge to protect jobs and employee benefits.”

Also in the Golden State, UAW 2865, the union representing 36,000 teaching assistants, graduate student researchers, and other academic workers at the University of California’s 10 campuses, has just voted to authorize a strike and “maximize chaos.” The union alleges that its workers’ rights have been violated at several universities by actions against pro-Palestinian protests. The walkouts, which are still in the planning stage, were approved by 79% of the 19,780 members who voted.


Parents of Chicago school students are suing the Chicago Teachers Union for damages. The lawsuit, filed by attorneys Patrick Hughes and Daniel Suhr from Hughes and Suhr LLC, stems from the strike that took place in January 2022. The attorneys say the strikes forced Chicago parents “to face unexpected childcare costs, take unpaid leave from work, and cope with additional financial strains.”