—Mark Berndt was first investigated by the Sheriff’s Department for a lewd act committed in 1994. The District Attorney office refused to pursue the case due to “insufficient evidence”. He continued teaching at the same school and committing more crimes for over two decades. One can’t help but ask why he was allowed back in class. Why didn’t or couldn’t Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) fire him? Was he protected by the United Teachers Los Angeles Union (UTLA)?
—Even when a film processor turned over hundreds of photos showing him with the blind-folded, gagged students being fed “unknown cloudy-colored liquid substance” to local law enforcement, the LAUSD could not out-right fire him. LAUSD board quietly settled with him and he was able to retire afterward. The settlement cost was over $80,000 of taxpayers’ money. Berndt will continue to collect a monthly pension of $3800 even if he is convicted—due to a ridiculous contract with the teachers union.
Here are my two-cents:
- It’s impossible to fire a tenured teacher without lots of money spent on settlement. In California, an elementary school teacher earns tenure status after 2 years on the job. The main function of the teachers union is negotiating for fair pays and benefits for the teachers—aka collective bargaining. The union is there to protect and fight for the teachers. Who can we count on for protecting the students against the likes of Mark Bendt—apparently not the LAUSD nor the D.A. office. And who have been representing the students in these collective bargaining sessions with the teachers union? The answer may be no one. According to LA Weekly, in the past decade, LAUSD spent an average $500,000 for each case when they tried to fire teachers for poor performance—a total of $3.5 million trying to fire 7 of 33,000 teachers in the district. That’s correct. LAUSD tried to fire just 7 out of 33,000 teachers in a district that has the graduation rate of just 51% and is ranked
- CA voters (all voters really) need to vote responsibly. Before voting for any proposition, voters need to carefully weight short and long term benefits. We need to see who support or oppose it and what their reasons may be. An example is CA proposition 75 which would prohibit unions from using public employee union dues for political contributions without written consent of members. If this proposition was passed, the union official can’t continue to manipulate elections with generous donations without member’s annual consent to his/her share. This proposition was defeated 54%-47%, using over $54 million of donations from several unions—including a donation of over $12 million from the California Teachers Association.
- California needs to have right-to-work law. It needs to join 23 out of 50 states—yes, President Obama, we only have 50 and not 57 states (lol)—to provide workers a choice to not join union and yet still have all benefits under the contract with the employers and the union. This will reduce the political powers of the unions which often use dues collected from members to elect liberal candidates—more than 95% of union contributions go to Democrats. Most importantly, isn’t freedom of association included in the Bill of Rights?
- Last but not least, where have the parents for these students been? One may think that if these parents asked their children about activities in their classes, they might have some hints at what happened—blind-folding, feeding games, etc. Are parents talking to their children often enough? According to a 2010 survey by Bureau of Labor Statistics, adults in households with children 6-17 years old spent a daily average over 2 hours watching television but only about 30 minutes caring for (and talking to) children.