Teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District walked picket lines again Tuesday as administrators urged them to return to classrooms and for their union to return to the bargaining table.
“It is by no means a normal day in LA Unified,” Superintendent Austin Beutner acknowledged as the strike by thousands of members of United Teachers Los Angeles entered its second day.
“To state the obvious, we need our educators back in our classrooms helping inspire our students,” he said. “The painful truth is we just don’t have enough money to do everything UTLA is asking Los Angeles Unified to do.”
The walkout Monday was marked by a plunge in attendance, which cost the district about $25 million because funding is based on how many students come to school, he said.
Beutner urged the teachers to join him in pushing for more funding from the state, which provides 90 percent of the district’s money.
“Join me on the bus,” he said.
Some charter school teachers joined their public school counterparts on picket lines. Educators with the Accelerated Schools charter network, who are also union members but negotiate their contracts separately — walked off the job Tuesday to demand better working conditions. The action was the first by charter teachers in California, according to UTLA.
Kathleen Whitehead vowed to keep her 14-year-old daughter home Tuesday, after the teen reported not learning much Monday at a high school staffed by a skeleton crew of substitutes.
Whitehead said she grew “more and more irritated” as the ninth-grader texted that she and her classmates at Reseda High School were “shuffled from one large auditorium to the next” so they could be looked after by fewer adults.
The teen told her mom that some kids huddled around a TV showing Michelle Obama’s recent appearance on “Carpool Karaoke,” a segment from “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” while others browsed the internet for busy-work assignments.
Teachers are pressing for higher pay and smaller class sizes that school officials say could bankrupt the nation’s second-largest system with 640,000 students.
Teachers are trying to tap into the “Red for Ed” movement that began last year and won big raises even in states with “right to work” laws that limit the ability to strike. They started in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona and moved to Colorado and Washington state.
But unlike those strikes, which shut down many schools and forced parents to find other care for their kids, all 1,240 K-12 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District were open. The district has hired hundreds of substitutes to replace educators and staff members, a move that the teachers union has called irresponsible.
Taehyum Kim sent his two sons to their San Fernando Valley schools so they wouldn’t ruin their perfect attendance records. But then he picked them up early after they complained they weren’t doing anything except playing chess on iPads.
Only seven of the 24 students in his younger son’s third-grade class showed up, Kim said, adding attendance was better at the older boy’s middle school.
Some parents took their children to picket lines.
District officials estimated that about 144,000 students — about a quarter of the usual daily total — attended 1,240 schools on Monday.
The union rejected the district’s latest offer to hire nearly 1,200 teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians and reduce class sizes by two students. It also included a previously proposed 6 percent raise over the first two years of a three-year contract. The union wants a 6.5 percent hike at the start of a two-year contract.
Teachers earn between $44,000 and $86,000 annually depending on their education and experience, according to the Los Angeles County Office of Education. The district says the average teacher salary is $75,000.
Teachers want significantly smaller class sizes, which routinely top 30 students, and more staff members for the district’s campuses.
The district says the demands run up against an expected half-billion-dollar deficit this budget year and billions that are obligated for pension payments and health coverage for retired teachers.
The union argues that the district is hoarding reserves of $1.8 billion.
Associated Press reporters Amanda Lee Myers, Krysta Fauria and John Antczak contributed to this report.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News