Los Angeles teachers went on strike Monday after contentious contract negotiations failed in the nation’s second-largest school district.(Richard Vogel/AP)
More than 30,000 educators in Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest school district, will spend Monday on the picket lines after school and city officials and union representatives failed to reach an agreement on issues including pay, class size, testing and charter schools.
“We are more convinced than ever that the district won’t move without a strike,” Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, said during a press conference on Sunday. “We’re in a battle for the soul of public education.”
Los Angeles Superintendent Austin Beutner offered a new $565 million funding proposal as recently as Friday that would, among other things, provide a 6 percent salary increase and allow the district to hire 1,200 more teachers to meet union demands of smaller classes, as well as to hire additional librarians, nurses and counselors.
Union officials had demanded a 6.5 percent raise plus one year of retroactive pay.
Beutner argued that the union demands aren’t realistic, given budget restrictions and what he termed the “rapid deterioration” of the school district’s finances, and that union leaders know they are asking for something the district cannot provide.
The teacher strike, the first in Los Angeles in 30 years, comes on the heels of a year marked by educator unrest, in which teachers in places like Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma and West Virginia organized around the same issues of pay, class size and resources and ultimately motivated thousands of educators to run for office in the 2018 midterm election.
“Last year, public school educators in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona, and charter school educators in Illinois, walked out for their kids,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, who was in Los Angeles on Monday morning, said in a statement. “Now, in L.A., a big, wealthy city, educators are doing the same, and for the same reasons: They’re tired of the pattern of starving our schools and our students of the resources they need for their success.”
Weingarten rejected the district’s argument that it would like to bolster the school system with additional funds but that the budget doesn’t currently allow for it.
“Austin Beutner isn’t fooling anyone,” she said. “We’ve seen this slash-and-burn agenda play out before, and as the people in the classroom every day, we know: Scarcity is not a strategy that actually helps kids learn.”
Schools will be open and serving meals for the district’s 640,000 K-12 students while the strike is ongoing.
Lauren Camera, Education Reporter
Lauren Camera is an education reporter at U.S. News & World Report. She’s covered education pol… Read moreLauren Camera is an education reporter at U.S. News & World Report. She’s covered education policy and politics for nearly a decade and has written for Education Week, The Hechinger Report, Congressional Quarterly, Roll Call, and the Chronicle of Higher Education. She was a 2013 Spencer Education Fellow at Columbia University’s School of Journalism, where she conducted a reporting project about the impact of the Obama administration’s competitive education grant, Race to the Top.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News