Written by Joshua Corona and Mathew Tin
Teachers VS District
LAUSD is the second largest school district in the country with roughly 700,000 public school students around the 1000 schools and employs currently 25,000 teachers in the 2018-2019 school year in session. For a few years now its been a battle of teachers vs the district as educators have pushed for better pay but more importantly, better school funding and smaller class sizes.
Negotiating between the two has traditionally been a battle as teachers and administrators hold different positions about the situation influenced solely off the role they play in the students education, whether that be those who make the decisions in downtown Los Angeles or those physically in the classroom teaching. With no progress, this stand- off resulted in teachers taking action which came to be one of the biggest teacher strikes in U.S history. Through unusually persistent rain and cold, 90% of LAUSD teachers protested day after day to show that their demands for greater student services must be taken seriously and the time to listen is now.
A teacher at Cesar E Chavez, Lucile Madatovian, felt that the strike was “needed to make the changes that couldn't be made in a simple sit down.” As one can imagine, Ms. Madatovian is not the only educator who feels this way. When asked how this strike would affect her financially as no teacher will be paid outside of the classroom, she displayed her frustration with the district saying “I am disappointed that we as teachers have to yet sacrifice more for the things you as students and us as teachers deserve ... we wouldn't fight for all this if others valued the students truly.”
After 6 days of almost 30,000 educators on strike, the LAUSD and UTLA (teachers union) reached a settlement where the teachers were content with what was nearly everything they demanded. The settlement reduces the size of some classes by one student in each of the first two years and two students in the third year. The district will hire 41 teacher/librarians this year in each of the first two years. The district will also hire 150 nurses in each of two years in order to have one full time at all its schools as many have been managing with only a part time nurse.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
As students, at first very few of us understood fully what the strike and the settlement meant or cost. No teachers means no students; no students means no funding for the schools lacking attendees and even greater than all this is the reality that if there are no students attending schools then the district itself will not be funded by the state. Even though the strike ended in 6 days, the money lost was significant. About one third or less of LAUSDs students across all schools attended school during the strike. Just from one day, the schools of Los Angeles lost 15 million dollars; millions gone with no chance of recovering one cent. So the concern is how exactly will the district pay for the demands that they have already promised. As we all know, the educational system is very much under funded, yet demands have been condeded with limited funds to accomplish it all. The absence of teachers means money that the district does not have to pay but yet that is nowhere enough to compensate the great amount lost in attendance. So the question remains how will it all be paid for? How can teachers and students see these changes actually manifest in their schools? The end of the strike might be mistaken as no victory but merely a illumination of issues that just are not possible to bring immediate and effective change. The two sides agreed to reduce the class size cap by one for the next school year. Something that sounds simple as making smaller classes is far more costly than one would think as smaller classes means a demand of more teachers being hired and there just isn't money available to cover it all. Funds are scarce and significant change and progress is far from these years sadly. Six days of instruction were lost, for little change and unfulfilled promises with no action to back it all up. So was it enough?