A teachers union in a large district is yet again ready to strike, leaving around 40 thousand students in the middle of a school shutdown.
The Sacramento City Unified School District was unable to reach an agreement with both unions representing teachers last week and a school shutdown is set to begin. The unions are going on strike leaving children, once again, without proper education. Some 40,000 students were able to return to in-person classes this year after COVID-19 pandemic policies forced families to switch to online learning. Now, the Sacramento City Teachers Association (SCTA), and Service Employees International Union 1021 are fighting over staffing shortages and alleged pay cuts.
For months the districts and the unions have been negotiating to no avail. Teachers claim that some 600 students enrolled in independent study programs are without instructors, and that pay cuts are forcing teachers to seek jobs elsewhere. The district is struggling to fill all positions including that of bus drivers and proposed to offer extra pay for substitute teachers, nurses, independent study, and more. The proposal was not accepted as it did not include more extra pay for everyday teachers, and so the district now faces a school shutdown due to striking.
The strike date was announced for Wednesday, March 23rd and the district is preparing for a school shutdown. The SCTA, partnered with the Service Employees International Union 1021, has declared that they are “committed to meeting with the District every day to come to a resolution.” The SCTA is an affiliate of the California Teachers Association (CTA) and National Education Association (NEA), while the SEIU is an organization that represents a number of workers including nurses, courts workers, and more. They advertise their opposition to “Right to Work” policies decrying them for their “racist roots,” and boast that they represent around 60,000 employees across various fields in Northern California.
While these unions fight to give teachers what they want, parents and students must await the outcome. It is no secret that tension between parents and school officials has become an increasing issue. Many wonder if this strike will further the divide being that as of February 2022, the average public school teacher’s salary in Sacramento, California was $65, 683 falling between the ranges of $57,336 and over $75,000. That is right around the national average for public school teachers, and so as support for public schools continues to drop, parents may not look favorably on another school shutdown.
It is also of note that Sacramento teachers went on strike back in 2019, and approved another one in 2017. Both occasions were resolved quickly, but after having moved to online learning and facing a historic enrollment drop, the ability for the district and unions to reach an agreement is unlikely. Everyone is bracing for a school shutdown.
It is being reported nationwide that staffing shortages and reliance on COVID relief funds have left school districts across the country unable to balance budgets and fill positions as needed. Homeschooling is on the rise, and California has become a battleground for political COVID mandates in schools. As the Sacramento City Unified School District faces these unprecedented challenges, the question of whether or not they can afford another school shutdown is being asked.
Regardless, the SCTA and SEIU are set to follow through with their strike. Unless an agreement can be reached within the next couple of days, families will have to once again readjust their lifestyles due to the school shutdown. How they respond will hold much weight for everyone involved.