In the grand scheme of things, what difference does one hour make?

For the Los Angeles Unified School District’s school-aged children, it’s one hour out of an otherwise mediocre education experience.  

For teachers and the union leaders who control them, they believe it’s an important statement to make in protest to Governor Schwarzenegger’s latest budget proposal.

The issue at hand is that this past Friday, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) teachers staged a "walk out" to protest the money allocated to public education in Governor Schwarzenegger’s current budget.  The Governor’s proposal would provide a $193 million increase over last year’s $56.6 billion in education funding.  The UTLA believes its teachers "must" protest, despite the proposed current fiscal year funding increase, because the revenue increase doesn’t keep up with the so-called cost of living.  These "cuts," (only cut in government budgeting) will necessitate some tough choices.

Let’s leave aside the fact that the state’s education funding is on auto-pilot, thanks to ballot box budgeting, and that public education consumes almost half of the state’s budget annually.  What’s even more troubling is that each and every year, our failing public schools receive more and more money…and results fail to materialize.

Next year, so our education leaders and public school apologists promise, results will materialize.  More money will make a difference, they cry continually.  Yet, large bureaucratic school districts remain intact – the LAUSD is the poster child for a large, bloated district – and test scores continue to decline.  Any attempts to require accountability are fought at each and every turn by powerful and well-monied teachers unions and the Legislators who support them.

The business community and the people of California need to wake up.  We have succeeded in creating and empowering an education bureaucracy that is more interested in maintaining a strangle-hold on our public schools and, in turn, allowing the teacher’s unions to elect politicians to keep them in power.  Educating our children and demanding results runs a distant second.

Shame on the UTLA.  Shame on LAUSD teachers.  And, shame on the example they’re setting for their students.

The one-hour of lost time really means nothing.  LAUSD students will sit in cafeterias, on athletic fields or in auditoriums.

But, Friday’s 60-minute protest symbolically means much more.  It highlights the fact, that despite billions of dollars, our public schools have failed multiple generations of attendees.  The costs to business and to the future are incalculable.  It is the parents and children of our failed public schools who should protest!