Reader congratulates school board for resisting LNEA’s demands

To the editor:

The Lindbergh School District administration and Board of Education have adopted a position deemed objectionable by the Lindbergh National Education Association, or LNEA.

The LNEA has publicized these issues to the community, alleging the Board of Education has failed to bargain in good faith.

Upon reading the position of the LNEA, one could easily conclude the issues are exclusive to the LNEA and Board of Education. This is not the case.

The cost of education has more than doubled over the past 30 years, mostly due to the hiring of more teachers. The average student-to-teacher ratio decreased from 22.3 to 1 in the early ’70s to 16 to 1 in 2005. However, student achievement has not increased during this time, and more surprisingly, the average number of students in the public classrooms has not decreased. Today’s teachers teach fewer classes, rather than smaller classes.

The LNEA is demanding a binding contract regarding not only issues of class size, but also schedules, meetings and conferences, grievance and firing procedures and other items.

Smaller class sizes will increase labor costs. Although small class size sounds nice, more broad-based studies show that smaller class size does not provide significant benefits for children.

Children benefit the most when there are large numbers of small school districts within an area, providing competition between districts. This is demonstrated here in St. Louis County.

However, the contract provisions advocated by the LNEA tie the hands of the Board of Education, diminish community impact and involvement and, as the National Education Association’s influence increases within our county’s school districts, will lessen the distinctions between districts, thereby stifling the healthy competition that benefits our children.

Take the December 2000 published letter regarding a mom/New York City School District teacher who wanted to meet with her son’s teacher, also a NYC District teacher, to discuss some concerns. The mom could not meet before 3 p.m. and the teacher, upon request, refused to stay after school. The mom complained to the principal, who responded: “There’s nothing I can do, it’s in the contract.” Today, NYC school teachers have a binding contract that is 204 pages long. That district will spend $74 million this year on nearly 1,000 teachers who do not teach because they can’t agree over their school placement with the administration and their contracts mandate they be paid nonetheless.

If the Board of Education bows to the contract demands of the LNEA, the beneficiary is the NEA, which will enjoy increased membership and increased revenue from union dues, which will undoubtedly be utilized for greater political lobbying and influence. Once implemented, these contract provisions will likely never be undone.

I congratulate the Board of Education for resisting the LNEA demands on our behalf. I’m challenging our community to step up — contact our Board of Education and let them know that you support them.

George Winter

south county