IN THESE TIMES
Today teachers and education workers in Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the country (after New York), voted 98 percent to 2 percent to authorize their first strike in nearly 30 years.
Last spring’s strikes and school walkouts by educators from West Virginia to Oklahoma, Arizona and more, took place in so-called red states. This school year, the strikes have moved to blue states, with teachers in Washington state school districts already on strike and Seattle teachers approving a strike vote earlier this week. The LA educators will likely go on strike, if they can’t negotiate a settlement through mediation, in mid-to-late October.
They have been working under an expired contract for over a year, since June 30, 2017. At the top of the educators’ list of demands are reducing class size; less testing and more teaching time; basics such as new textbooks, and restoring essential support structures that students need, including school nurses and guidance counselors.
California, despite being one of the wealthiest states in the nation, ranks 43 out of 50 in funding per pupil, according to the union. Julia Lathin, an art history teacher at Hamilton High, says, “Our school has over 2,000 students and one nurse, but she was only hired to be here part time. Because of this, I let my students know that I have a cabinet in my classroom that’s always stocked with pads and tampons. I need these kids focused on their education and not worrying about if they’re going to bleed through their pants at school because there isn’t always a nurse on campus.”
Out of dozens of teachers interviewed for this article, not one placed wages at the top of their priorities list. When asked, “If management offered to meet your salary demands and nothing else, would you still plan to strike?”, all said yes. Among the top concern voiced by teachers is the need to eliminate Section 1.5 of their contract, which allows teacher-to-student ratios of 1 teacher—alone in their class without assistance—to up to 46 students. That’s right: one teacher responsible for up to 46 students.
Brandon Abraham, an English teacher with 18 years of teaching experience, says, “When I started teaching in 1999, the teacher to student ratio was 1:20. I had twenty students in my class. These days, because of all the cuts, we don’t even have school librarians anymore, we are teaching basic literacy. They keep cutting and cutting and cutting essential services that students need to learn. To do a good job—which we do—is hard enough when conditions are perfect, but when the conditions get this challenging, it’s hard to motivate and inspire students. The problem is, really good teachers are leaving the profession because the conditions have become so difficult.”
found @ 28 likes ON 2019-02-14 15:29:08 BY ME.ME