A good vocabulary word–and an important rhetorical device–that kids should learn is “hyperbole.” Indeed, in Los Angeles the teachers union has apparently thought illustrating hyperbole so important that the union has, on its own time, provided a crystal clear example of it. Talking about a proposed 11.75-percent pay cut to control the Los Angeles Unified School District’s red ink flood, United Teachers of Los Angeles elementary vice president Julie Washington declared that she’s afraid “with a 12 percent pay cut we’ll see homeless teachers…”
That’s a deliberate exaggeration, alright! According to a February Los Angeles Daily News report, the average LAUSD teacher makes $63,000 a year. Even the lowest paid LAUSD teacher makes nearly $46,000. Meanwhile, according to the News, the average household–not single person–income in Los Angeles County is only about $73,000. So right now the household income of two average LAUSD teachers would be $126,000, almost 73 percent higher than the county average. A household of the lowest paid teachers would also substantially beat the county average, hitting $92,000. Presumably, that means that right now L.A. teachers can afford way better than average housing, much less no housing at all.
Would a 12 percent pay cut change that? No way! The average household of teachers would still make almost $111,000, and the lowest-rung teacher household would make nearly $81,000.
So thank you, UTLA: You’re always looking to set up teachable moments, and this time you’ve succeeded with hyperbole!