That’s the title of a good song by Todd Rundgren who, BTW, co-owns a good restaurant in Princeville, HI, that I have had the good fortune to visit a couple of times.

The lapse between posts is due to the holidays and an avalanche of work, neither of which I would have traded for the chance to write more in this space. Sometimes we need a break from whatever we’ve been doing.

Some of the trustees need a break. Karen Yelsey should have taken one last year. She should have stuck to her 2006 campaign statement that 12 years is enough and let someone else have a turn at the wheel. Instead, in a desperate bid to stay put, she resorted to a personal attack on her opponent – the first I can recall – and used N-MUSD employee testimonials in her campaign.

Dana Black needs a break, too. I cannot recall the last time she brought anything to the party and she appears to me these days to be going through the motions.

Martha Fluor is the only trustee I see who is still actively engaged in the work of a trustee. Maybe not all the time or as much as she did when she was new, but she’s still engaged. And while I may not agree with her decisions or her conduct, she is still part of the process.

Which way, L.A.?

Barring some last-minute deal, teachers in Los Angeles are set to strike tomorrow. If you were to take their list of key grievances and swap N-MUSD for LAUSD, you’d find some similarities. Among them is a bloated bureaucracy with a lot of people making too much money with no accountability. Sound familiar?

Despite what you read or hear in the media, the Los Angeles strike is not a money grab and it’s not about the big, bad union holding the district hostage, which is the straw man that people like to present when they have no defense for the real issue.

The real issue in Los Angeles and across the country is respect. In 2018, respect was the fundamental issue in teacher strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona and by staff protests in Kentucky, North Carolina, Colorado, and Georgia.

Locally, we see the disrespect for teachers and their union every two weeks at board meetings. There, the head of the union – the group responsible for the largest single chunk of budget expenditures in the district – must stand in line with everyone else for the chance to speak for a maximum of three minutes – two minutes if it’s a crowded night.

The heads of both unions deserve carved-out, dedicated time at every meeting. And teachers everywhere deserve more than lip service from all of us. Too many parents say they value their child’s education, but they don’t. They rely on teachers and a school district to do it all: Teach them the 3 Rs, help them learn how to get along with others, and so much more. In return, teachers have to fight to gain their rightful place in our society.

I have no hope or expectation that the adult population in the U.S. will wake up tomorrow and wonder how they could have had their priorities out of whack for so long by, for example, caring more about the outcome of a football game than how much their kid is reading or studying for a test.

That’s too big a fight. So, we start locally – in a neighboring county – and hope that the progress there is a catalyst toward a slow evolution in our perception of childhood education.

The teachers in Los Angeles are not socialists, money-hungry, mean, or unfeeling. They are just fed up and are striking because they have run out of patience, not just with the LAUSD, but with all of us.

Tomorrow, I will be wearing red in support of the teachers in Los Angeles.

Steve Smith

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