The “Red Queen in LA” (aka Sara Roos) tries to sort the players in the Los Angeles teachers’ strike.

Who represents the public? Who represents the public interest? Who speaks for the students?

Teachers, administrators, board members, students, parents. In the background, Eli Broad, pulling the strings of Austin Beutner, money manager.

Kids of all ages from 4 to 18 will face a bigger political question of whether to “cross a picket line”. While parents weigh the potential incremental damage to their own kid’s school’s budget from loss of Average Daily Attendance (ADA) money, against the long-term effect of staffing all schools properly with teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses among others, kids have somehow to navigate a world of contingent attendance. Drilled into them the administratively-self-serving mantra of “100% attendance” long ago, they suddenly face a moral dilemma that belies the unwaivering rectitude assigned that rule. In the age of shock doctrine education reform and testing hysteria, has come a political battle-cry that all kids should attend school always, even when sick, even when family duty calls, even when honors or accolades call them elsewhere.

Older kids as emerging moral beings must begin to design this decision independently from their parents. And the resulting “opinion gap” is a stress with incumbent consequences they must bear personally. They must straddle a moral field that encompasses the relationship with their teacher, their school, their friends, their families, their personal dreams and desires. Some students have been threatened with punishment from truancy, with poor grades to diminished GPA and college opportunities, to lost graduation privileges or failure to graduate altogether. The UTLA president has promised to fight “100% at the back” of any students or parents or families who face retaliation for supporting the strike. Pertinent legislation assures that a “valid excuse” will mitigate truancy, but discretion over that definition is Group M’s and they have been clear about asserting a strict, narrow, fealty to financial demands in mandating student’s “100% attendance”. Which incidentally belies all that former pedagogical justification, since there is little chance that students sitting in the school during a strike will actually learn or be taught anything.

Student’s needs and perspective are the least-articulated to the public (though parents will be better-acquainted with kids’ burden). But kids disproportionately bear the brunt of collateral damage when elephants fight. Like the two prostitutes before Kong Solomon, true kinship and care is revealed by willingness to defer to the child’s need. The District has been pimping our children for political gain for long enough.

Which side are you on?