The definition of “hubris” is foolish excessive pride, arrogant overconfidence.

In a related story, California teachers’ unions won a victory when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a budget trailer bill that bases school funding levels for the new school year on the attendance in the previous school year. This cheats growing charter schools, often non-union, of the revenue to educate newly enrolled students. The new law also prohibits layoffs of teachers or other school employees through June of 2021.

So even if the schools are closed, everybody gets paid.

That’s a very sweet deal courtesy of taxpayers, many of whom are currently on hold with the Employment Development Department, trying to get their unemployment benefits.

Still, it’s not enough for some teachers’ unions. Take UTLA. Please.

United Teachers Los Angeles issued a report this month titled, “The Same Storm, but Different Boats: The Safe and Equitable Conditions for Starting LAUSD in 2020-21.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District announced this week that the schools will remain closed at the start of the new school year.

UTLA’s report opens by stating that educators “clearly want to get back into schools with their students, but …”

Can you guess the end of that sentence? Did you guess, “but we must be sure it is safe”?

Buzz-buzz — I’m sorry! The correct answer is: “but the underlying question at every step must be: Given broader societal conditions, how do we open physical schools in a way that ensures that the benefits outweigh the risks, especially for our most vulnerable students and school communities?”

If you have any doubt what that means, the second paragraph takes a shot at “the Trump administration’s attempt to force people to return to work” and slams the United States for being a “profoundly racist, intensely unequal society” that “has chosen to prioritize profits over people.”

Apparently, all this has to be fixed before the schools can be allowed to reopen.

“This document outlines the equity lens that we must use to view both today’s emergency and tomorrow’s recovery,” the report continues, outlining the “best practices” that the teachers’ union says “must be in place” before they are satisfied that conditions are right for schools to restart.

For starters, they seek “clear, specific and consistent guidance from public health officers.” It’s already a satire and we’re only on page 7.

They also want “clear procedures for confirming that members of students’ household do not have the coronavirus.” Really? Every morning?

There’s the usual list of requirements for physical distancing, hygiene and personal protective equipment. And then they get to the point: they want to raise taxes.

“Instead of flattening the curve, politicians and the billionaires they serve have instead flattened school budgets and our capacity to safely restart schools,” the report states, complaining that “U.S. billionaire wealth has surged,” and “over 150 of those billionaires live in California.” 

Not for long, they won’t.

The teachers’ union wants to increase California’s personal income tax rate, already the highest in the nation, by adding “a 1% surtax on incomes over $1 million a year, and 3% for over $3 million a year.” The union wants “California billionaires” to pay a new “wealth tax” on unrealized capital gains, “1% a year until capital gains taxes are met.” They also want to repeal part of Prop. 13 to raise property taxes on businesses. 

In addition, UTLA wants local governments to defund police, “prevent evictions and provide rental relief funds,” require all businesses to provide ten additional paid sick days, ban new charter schools and provide “financial support for undocumented students and families.” 

Is that all? 

UTLA’s next contract negotiations are coming up. Perhaps this list of impossible conditions to reopen the schools is the union’s idea of a cool plan to raise taxes and then demand full protection of LAUSD’s lavish benefits package, plus higher salaries.

It could backfire spectacularly if frustrated parents abandon public education and take advantage of free online education options, such as those offered by, to organize new private schools or home-schooling cooperatives.

Maybe nobody wants that, but it could happen. If the public schools don’t open in the fall, California teachers’ unions could lose their kingdom. That’s the price you pay for hubris.


Originally published in the Los Angeles Daily News