After negotiations fell through on Monday in the nation’s second-largest school district, tens of thousands of teachers went on strike in Los Angeles. Standing and walking in the rain and carrying signs that read “on strike for our students,” teachers demanded more accountability for charter schools, higher wages for educators, smaller class sizes, and additional librarians, counselors and nurses. United Teachers Union president, Alex Caputo-Pearl, stated that over 900 schools across the city were home to picket lines on Monday.
Caputo-Pearl referred to the demonstration as a fight for the soul of public education. The Union’s president also stated that a strike was not the ultimate goal of educators. Rather, they felt it was their only viable option after long-term negotiations proved unsuccessful.
Our private tutors in Orange County have been following this story closely, and were hoping that some resolution might be reached before a strike became necessary.
Secretary of the Union, Arlene Inouye, agreed with Caputo-Pearl that the strike was a “last resort,” and stated that educators had been in negotiations with Los Angeles Unified School District for over 20 months without being able to reach an agreement.
United Teachers Union members stated they were taking a stand against charter schools, and subsequently the privatization of public education. According to the Sacramento Bee, charter schools have experienced a booming 150% increase in California over the past decade.
L.A. Unified possesses 1.86 billion in reserves and California has a $9 billion surplus. Nevertheless, the state’s per-pupil spending ranks 41st in the nation, with an average class size of 42 students. In a statement made by the Union on Sunday, educators acknowledged the $1.86 billion in reserves, but made it clear that the school district still did not have the funds to reduce classroom size, improve the schools, hire an adequate staff of librarians, nurses and counselors, and reinvest in school safety programs.
Inouye stated that the Union’s bargaining proposals were mischaracterized by Superintendent Austin Beutner, accusing him of disrespecting the educators and their bargaining team on multiple occasions.
Late Monday morning, Beutner defended the school district’s bargaining position, and stated during a news conference that all 1,240 K-12th grade schools were opened. However, he acknowledged that it was not a normal school day due to the strike.
Beutner went on to say that a proposal was made on Friday and that those on strike rejected it and simply walked away from the negotiations. He urged them to resume bargaining anywhere, anytime. Beutner said that the district was discussing all the pertinent issues with the State Superintendent of Public Education, the Los Angeles Mayor and the Governor of California. He went on to say that it was their goal to support all the district’s educators and ultimately get them back to work. Since last year, numerous demonstrations and walkouts took place in various states across the country, including Kentucky, Oklahoma, Washington, Colorado, West Virginia, North Carolina and Arizona.
Later on Monday, educators and those in support of the strike rallied in downtown Los Angeles outside the City Hall. Beutner stated that an estimated 3,500 individuals were participating in the demonstration at various schools in the district, and that all assemblies had remained peaceful.
One of our trusted math tutors in Orange County stated “as an educator, I stand in solidarity with my colleagues in L.A. and I hope that we are ready to invest in our children, our teachers, and our future.”