In a stunningly revealing exposé in Los Angeles Magazine, United Teachers of Los Angeles president Cecily Myart-Cruz told the world what many of us already knew—that her primary concern is advancing her Marxist political agenda rather than educating children. The in-depth piece has received much media ink, notably her comment about pandemic-related learning loss. When asked about how her union’s insistence on keeping L.A.’s schools locked down for over a year may have impacted the city’s k-12 students, Myart-Cruz responded, “There is no such thing as learning loss. Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience. They learned survival. They learned critical-thinking skills. They know the difference between a riot and a protest. They know the words insurrection and coup.” She went on to say that “learning loss” is a “fake crisis marketed by shadowy purveyors of clinical and classroom assessments.”
Her jaw-dropping words are at odds with those who have researched the subject, however. For example, McKinsey & Company reported in July that the impact of the pandemic on K–12 student learning was significant, “leaving students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the (2020-2021) school year.” The researchers also noted that school shutdowns “widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest.” They add that blacks were especially hard hit, and that high schoolers have become more likely to drop out of school. They also report that “the crisis had an impact on not just academics but also the broader health and well-being of students, with more than 35 percent of parents very or extremely concerned about their children’s mental health.”
Even the not-exactly-right-wing Los Angeles Times editorial page trashed Myart-Cruz, stating in no uncertain terms, “Learning loss is real. Stop pretending otherwise.”
In fact, not only is learning loss real, UTLA is a major contributor to it. While school districts all over the state were scrambling to augment online learning, UTLA, with Myart-Cruz in charge, bullied the Los Angeles school district, insisting that teachers should not be forced to teach remotely for more than four hours a day, the fewest hours of the five largest districts in California. The union, needless to say, also demanded that teachers get a full day’s pay.
At the same time, UTLA released a 17-page “research paper”—or, more accurately, a manifesto—in which the union larded up their occasional coronavirus concerns with sweeping political demands, including Medicare for all, a wealth tax, a millionaire tax, defunding the police, guaranteed housing, financial support for illegals, a moratorium on charter schools, etc.
UTLA ended its screed with a statement that typifies its obsession with class warfare. “As it stands, the only people guaranteed to benefit from the premature physical reopening of schools amidst a rapidly accelerating pandemic are billionaires and the politicians they’ve purchased.”
It is hardly a surprise that many parents were outraged at UTLA’s reopening position. Right after the details of the district-union agreement were announced in March, parents rallied at two locations in L.A. and expressed their unhappiness over the deal. They demanded more in-person learning and a seat at the table when decisions are made.
But Myart-Cruz could not care less what parents had to say. Despite the fact that many of the upset mothers and fathers were black and Hispanic, the union boss asserted “We have to call out the privilege behind the largely white, wealthy parents driving the push for a rushed return. Their experience of this pandemic is not our students’ families’ experiences.” At a rally in south L.A. a Hispanic mom cogently remarked, “It’s not just a race (issue). It’s about the children and the generation. They’re all getting dumber.”
It’s important to note that students in L.A. weren’t exactly thriving before the union-mandated shutdown and subsequent abridged learning sessions. On the 2019 NAEP, the “nation’s report card,” just 9 percent of blacks in LAUSD scored proficient in 8th grade math, compared to 12 percent of Hispanics and 51 percent of whites. In 8th grade reading, blacks again scored at a 9 percent proficient level, while 14 percent of Hispanics, and 47 percent of whites were proficient. But as long as the students know the words insurrection and coup, their illiteracy and innumeracy are not an issue for Myart-Cruz.
When Myart-Cruz was elected president of UTLA in February 2020, less than one sixth of L.A.’s 33,000 teachers voted, and she wound up garnering 69 percent of the 5,300 teachers who cast a ballot. The runner-up in the election, Marisa Crabtree, who stood in stark contrast to Myart-Cruz—suggesting that the union focus more on solving classroom problems than politics—garnered just 11 percent of the vote. What jumps out here is teacher apathy. It seems that some 28,000 non-voting L.A. educators are just fine paying over $1,000 a year in dues to a Marxist-led organization.
Myart-Cruz doesn’t care about education, but rather prefers to build an army of angry and resentful children who are ready to serve the Marxist cause. The Hispanic mother was correct; they are all getting dumber, but for Myart-Cruz, it is more important that they know the difference between a riot and a protest.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared at For Kids & Country.