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LA Times editorial board tells city's superintendent of schools 'to put on his big-boy pants' and reopen schools


The district is 'out of excuses'

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

To say that parents nationwide are tired of the mixed messages they're getting from school district leadership, the state governments, and the teachers' unions would be an understatement.

But parents are easy to ignore. American school districts have been doing it for decades.

From New York to Chicago to Portland, elected leaders are instead cowering to teachers' unions and refusing to get teachers back in classrooms even as state and federal health officials repeatedly declare that it's safe to return to in-person instruction.

In Los Angeles, teachers have been fighting going back to work for months now — and the cries of parents and students seemingly have been ignored by the bigwigs of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

However, one group in L.A. that is harder to ignore just jumped into the fray on the side of parents: the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times.

In a Wednesday editorial, the paper declared that the city's school district "is officially out of excuses for keeping elementary schools closed" and that the superintendent "needs to put on his big-boy pants" and tell educators to get back into the classroom.

The paper noted that despite the fact that schools across the country have reopened with little risk and that elementary students are "far less likely" to get COVID or infect others and that there have been zero surges caused by reopened schools, L.A. Unified schools (and many others throughout California) have remained shuttered.

According to the paper, Superintendent Austin Beutner can finally open schools now because the county's infection rate has fallen to the point where it is "officially safe" for every elementary school in the county to open.

Yet, Beutner — who has been in an ongoing struggle with United Teachers Los Angeles — still does not have any immediate plans to reopen, the Times said.

"There are no more excuses. Further delay is unacceptable," the paper declared.

Beutner has been acquiescing to UTLA's demands — getting school buildings ready for teachers and students, updating testing availability, and implementing an elaborate tracing regimen, not to mention pushing to get teachers vaccinated before returning (which public experts have repeatedly said is not necessary) — yet the union continues to stand in the way.

The Times has a message for Beutner: Get tough with the unions and demand that teachers get back to work — or understand they could find themselves out of work.

From the Times:

It's not easy to go against UTLA, as Beutner learned during a bruising strike two years ago. But at this point, the superintendent needs to put on his big-boy pants, reopen schools and demand that teachers return or risk their jobs. Union leaders in turn need to realize that not only are students done a tremendous disservice by the continued closures, but most parents vehemently want their kids back in the classroom. The union is jeopardizing its own popularity if it continues to put the needs of students and families last.

It's also time for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, the paper said, to "fall in line with the CDC" and get kids back into schools.

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