What is the reason for the protests?
More than 33 000 workers of the educational sector are planning to strike against the years of budget cuts, ballooning class size, and the expansion of unaccountable charter schools.
From the beginning of 2017 teachers’ councils have been tried to change the system of payments at schools and negotiated with local government being tried to achieve the acceptable agreement for both sides. But the consensus wasn’t achieved and during the subsequent voting, 98% of participants voted to begin the strike on January 14.
The district government tries to assure the public that this situation raised from the quarrel about the teachers’ salaries and nothing else but the president of UTLA absolutely disagree with this statement.
He says that the teachers’ councils fight not only for salaries and several other things. Their main goal is to transform the scheme of school investment and create the education students deserve.
The LAUSD claims that they don’t have money and in such a way, they have to cut the budget. But in reality, the amount of funds is around $1.8 billion. The reason not to use them is the fear of unpredictable financial crises that never occurs.
All arguments of LAUSD completely contradict statistic data. The size of classes wasn’t reduced, amount of counsellors, librarians, and nurses decreased to the minimum, early childhood education and special education programs don’t get enough investments to carry out their activities in full measures.
Other educators’ requirements are to stop the uncontrolled increase of charter schools amount (nowadays there are more than 200 of them in L.A.) as they get $600 million per year from public schools and cancel over-testing of students which waste $8.6 million from the district budget.
A new way to change the situation
Last May appointed as district superintendent former investment banker and CEO and publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Austin Beutner in spite of zero experience in school or district leadership wants to breathe new life to the educational system using the “portfolio model”.
This scheme assumes decentralization of LAUSD into 32 smaller departments which will accomplish a wide range of options in different educational and administrative spheres.
UTLA supposes that decentralization and as a consequence rid of central oversight and accountability will have a negative outcome: many students won’t be served and the problems with investments of public schools, corruption and conflict-of-interest charges will happen to be.
More than 50,000 parents, educators, students and community members gathered during the protested event to prevent the reinvestment in the city’s schools.
Teachers claimed that many schools across the city face with the lack of nurses and librarians.
There is a similar situation in Oakland where local schools faced a serious teacher turnover and class size problem. The main goal of educators of this region is to return worthy working conditions and salaries for teachers and stable educational process for students. If the negotiations with district administration don’t have any results, Oakland educators will organize the massive protest like their colleagues in L.A.
Teachers claim that now it’s time to take extreme measures as their schools and students have suffered too long and deserved positive changes.