What Really Drove Los Angeles Teachers To Go on Strike?

They demanded higher salaries. The real problem: A disconnect between what teachers see in their paychecks and what employers are actually paying them.


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Over 30,000 public school teachers, nurses, counselors, and librarians went on strike last week in Los Angeles—the first teachers' strike there in nearly 30 years.

Driving the protests were union demands for higher salaries, smaller class sizes, and more funding for school nurses and counselors. District administrators said those demands would hasten the system's descent into insolvency.

While teacher salaries haven't increased much in inflation-adjusted terms since the 1990s, total teacher compensation has soared because of ballooning health care and retirement contributions. There's a growing disconnect between what teachers see in their paychecks and what their employers are actually paying for their services.

Reason spoke with Chad Aldeman, an editor at and a senior associate partner at Bellwether Education Partners, to discuss what's really driving schools to the brink of bankruptcy. The interview is based in part on Aldeman's article in Education Next, "Teachers Have the Nation's Highest Retirement Costs. But They'll Never See the Benefits."

Interview by Nick Gillespie. Produced by Alexis Garcia. Camera by Garcia, Justin Monticello, Meredith Bragg, and Mark McDaniel.

Photo credits: Christian Monterrosa/Sipa USA/Newscom, Ronan Tivony/Sipa USA/Newscom, Jonathan Alcorn/REUTERS/Newscom, Leah Mills/REUTERS/Newscom.

"Can't Believe," "Code," and "Treeline" by Music for Nothing are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license ( Source:

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