The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) is preparing to go on strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District, demanding higher pay, smaller class sizes and more nurses and counselors on campus.
Over 30,000 teachers are set to go on strike until their demands are met by the school district, which is the second largest in the nation, consisting of more than 640,000 students, reports the LA Times.
Here are some their demands:
- Decrease in class sizes to allow each student to receive the attention they deserve
- A full-time nurse, librarian and counselor at each school
- Regulate testing, as over-testing does not promote wellbeing for students
- Regulate charter school growth with reasonable accountability and guidelines
It is about more than just higher pay for these teachers, but the future of public education, in a district where most students are poor and many do not speak English.
A discussion on Monday to avoid a walkout was unsuccessful. The school district has accused the union of ignoring the serious financial troubles that face L.A. schools as well as refusing to listen to legitimate counterproposals.
The union’s goal is to prevent the district from going to the L.A. Superior Court, as that could potentially put their strike on hold and kill their momentum. Their argument is that the district was given plenty of notice about their strike.
So far, the district has offered a six percent raise spread over the first two years of a three-year contract. The union, however, wants a 6.5 percent raise that goes into effect all at once and a year sooner.
Teachers in the union say they are working at least eight hours a day and then taking calls from parents, grading papers and writing reports after the school day is over.
The district has added $75 million, on top of its already proposed $30 million, to reduce class sizes and hire new staff.
The district says the extra money would be put toward hiring a librarian at every middle school and one additional academic counselor for every high school. More than 700 teaching positions would be added, but with the district being so large, the union does not believe it will be enough.
Class sizes in grades four to six would drop from 36 to 35 and high school classes would drop from 42 to about 39, according to the district.
In an effort to put the issues they thought most important first, the union dropped their demand to have more control over standardized tests and budget decisions.
The school district and the UTLA have both agreed to meet again Wednesday morning to discuss further and try to prevent the strike, which is scheduled for Thursday.
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