University Times

Teachers Strike for Students

UTLA is on strike after 21 months of negotiations with LAUSD for better conditions within union schools

Marissa Chavez, Staff Reporter

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On Monday, Jan 14, over 30,000 teachers faced the heavy rainfall as they marched their way through the streets of downtown Los Angeles carrying picket signs and umbrellas.

For the first time in 30 years, teachers and supporters are demanding more than just money—a 6.5% increase—they’re fighting for a new cap on class sizes as well as more staffing roles for nurses, counselors, and librarians for each school.

“We’re not out here because we want a raise,” said El Sereno Middle School English teacher Mark Bowerbank. “We’re here because we love our kids. We’re out here because we want to stand up and finally say enough is enough.”

The UTLA Bargaining Team has been in negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District since April 2017. LAUSD has not accepted these terms due to the lack of money and their jurisdiction. Teachers, staff, parents, and even students, are fighting for the district to make use of the estimated $1.86 billion in reserves.

“Where’s the money? We need better education for our students,” Bowerbank added. “We need better supplies and healthcare for the safety and well-being of our kids.”

Bowerbank told the UT that some classes at ESMS have up to 46 students and his class shares one ‘tiny’ projector since they don’t have any books.

The streets were flooded with both rain and teachers late Monday morning in front of City Hall as tens of thousands of participants in the second largest school district in the United States rallied. Some brought their children while others used megaphones and whistles to be heard, cheering phrases such as, “teachers united, will never be divided” and “UTLA.”

The rain did not hinder the spirits and motivation of local teachers and supporters, especially 3rd grade history teacher, Lucas Elliot.

“I want to make it clear that this isn’t our choice,” Elliot said. “We had no other choice, they don’t care about the kids, we do. [Us teachers] are confident that this strike will force the district to give us what we need, what the children need.”

All Los Angeles unified schools that occupy around 600,000 students total, remain open with a slight curriculum adjustment. Parent and former teacher Lisa Berkeley was ‘disturbed’ by the false information being told by the district.

“It’s not right, what they’re doing to our teachers and students. They say our students are learning and that they went through a lot of trouble to find enough staff and educators, but my kids played games all day. That’s not learning.”

 

Special Education teacher Ulises Serrano at ESMS, said only 200 hundred students—out of the 1,200—attended school on the first day of the strike, and those students were picked up by family members throughout the day.

Serrano averred that the few students at school spent the day in the auditorium watching movies and other similar activities.

As the strike continues, the number of participants are decreasing. It was reported by the district that more students are returning to class each day.

It’s unsure how long this strike will go on, but teachers and supporters are prepared to rally for weeks to come until their demands are met.

 

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