The following is our solidarity statement — we encourage you to copy and paste it on social media and to send it to friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers.
We are education workers from around the country who express our solidarity with the tens of thousands of the Los Angeles teachers who are preparing to go on strike on Monday, January 14. L.A. teachers have the support of their students and neighborhoods, and also people from around the country. They are demanding smaller class sizes, more librarians, more input from teachers in school operations and better working conditions. Such changes are needed in school districts nationwide, and we applaud the L.A. teachers for courageously taking a stand. We demand that Austin Beutner, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) superintendent, stop his union-busting tactics!
The UTLA members are negotiating for a strong contract that improves the quality of education for their students. The six key demands are:
1. Smaller class sizes.2. More teaching, less testing. (Teachers want more discretion to determine when and what standardized tests are given).3. Increase per student spending to $20,000 by 2020. California is the richest state in the nation yet ranks 43 out of 50 in the amount of spending on students.4. More counselors, nurses and librarians, social workers and other staff. Currently, the average counselor to student ratio is 945 students to one counselor; the ratio for nurses to students is 1,224 students for every one nurse.5. LAUSD must bargain for reasonable charter accountability and co-location measures. Over the last ten years the charter school industry grew 287 percent in Los Angeles and charters drain $600 million a year from public school funds. 6. UTLA fights for the Community Schools model which increases parent engagement, includes broadened curriculum and wrap around services.
Beutner claimed there was no money for these improvements despite LAUSD sitting on almost $2 BILLION in reserves. Union members responded with a 98 percent approval to strike if necessary. In mid December UTLA called on the support of the community for a “March for Public Education”. The community strongly responded and 50,000 people marched in unity with the UTLA members and students.
In Los Angeles, the biggest city in the state, the government spends about $11,000 for each student in a year. The state, with its notorious mass incarceration policies, spends over $70,000 to lock up a single inmate. Childhood poverty in California is greater than in any other state in the country.
All children deserve for these basic demands to become reality. All youth deserve healthy and robust schools where they are able to survive and thrive. The UTLA is at the forefront of saving public schools and we must stand with them!
What happens in Los Angeles will serve as an example for other public school districts who are under attack by Wall Street and Corporate America who want to make a profit off education.
Background on the negotiations: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gGHdv2lvSMDsbb-tlKpstlwIcCD5VI8WSGkvIxLPcHI/edit?usp=sharing