A California teachers union claims its comment about using a proposed $2,500 stipend from COVID relief funds to cover the costs of an “airplane trip to Hawaii” when the pandemic was over for a was meant to be “playful” and not connected to the cost of teachers returning to the classroom.
The “Hawaii” comment was mentioned in an internal communication to members of the Dublin Teachers Association that was shared online by the group, “Reopen California Schools.”
In the memo, DTA told its members that the $2,500 it was bargaining for could be to cover the cost of preparing classrooms for a safe return, to pay for additional furniture or technology, or to help cover the cost of childcare.
The last item on the list read of possible uses for the proposed money read: “Anything else: An airplane trip to Hawaii when this is all over?”
After sparking backlash, DTA told Fox News that the suggestion of a vacation in Hawaii was “simply a playful comment on an internal communication to DTA members, not connected to the costs of members returning to on-site work.”
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“The comment … was taken out of context for someone’s political agenda,” DTA President Roberta Kreitz told Fox News in a statement. “That twisting of truth does nothing to promote safe and healthy schools for our students and is simply a diversion from what matters.”
The union’s memo, shared by “Reopen California Schools,” came amid a spate of other school districts or teachers unions proposing to use state and federal COVID relief funds for teacher bonuses.
Marcelino Valdez, who started the Facebook group, Parents for Re-Opening Fresno Unified, called the union’s comments “a slap in the face to the parents who have been struggling all year to try to teach our own kids and be patient only to hear about these types of incentives or bribes or jokes in this case.”
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“They’re so tone-deaf,” Valdez told Fox News. “They’re not listening to their constituents, the parents … the students (who) want to return and to make even a playful comment like that is just uncalled for, unprofessional, and just tone-deaf.”
Harmeet Dhillon, founder of the Center for American Liberty, questioned the rationale for a potential “teacher bonus” after a year of mass job loss from the pandemic.
“What would a bonus be for? In what industry does somebody get a bonus in a year when the productivity is down, where the results are lower, where circumstances – even charitably argued – prevented one from doing one’s job,” Dhillon told Fox News in an interview. “Where layoffs occurred. Where customers are leaving your system in droves. It doesn’t happen in the private sector.”
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Dhillon, who filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom after he mandated that schools will remain closed for 2020-2021 school year, said teachers unions have shown themselves to be far more concerned with “social justice issues and their own pockets, than their so-called altruistic mission of educating children.”
“Instead, what we have is rich people’s kids are getting educated and everybody else’s are not,” she said.