32,000 Educators in Los Angeles on strike for Higher Wages, More Staff, and Smaller Classes

By Max Parrish

Since 2015, the teachers in Los Angeles, California, have been trying to get higher wages, more staff, and smaller classes, but now the approximate 32,000 educators are going on strike to get the funding and staff that they need. After weeks of heated debates between the United Teachers Los Angeles union (UTLA) and Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) went nowhere, the UTLA took to the streets on January 14th and staked the first teacher protest in Los Angeles in over 30 years. The morning of the protest, the UTLA’s twitter page posted saying,”First day of our historic strike! On the line for our students. So much at stake.” They proceeded to begin their strike which LAUSD was not happy about.

“It’s absolutely not the pay raise. It’s about class size reduction. In other words, hire more teachers,” said Andrea Cohen in an interview with CNN. “We want to have fully staffed schools. That means librarians, nurses, psychiatric social workers and their interns. We have 46, 45, 50 students in a class. It’s unacceptable.” she continued. Andrea Cohen has been teaching at John Marshall High School for 24 years and is now involved in the heated argument between the two associations, taking a stance with UTLA.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.com

During the strike in which about 32,000 teachers have stopped teaching, the approximate 600,000 students are expected to keep attending school, being taught by substitutes and reassigned administrators. A father of four LAUSD students, Krowne, made the decision to keep his children home, saying,”There’s not instruction happening. Why the hell would I send my kids to daycare with hundreds and hundreds of kids? My kids would be safer at home with their parents. Frankly, my kids will learn more at home.” A majority of parents are outraged that the school district still expects them to send their children to school and are keeping them home, but some parents, similar to Evelyn Alemán, are still sending their children to school. Alemán, the mother of a 14-year-old said,”I think most parents agree with what the teachers are asking for. We definitely want smaller class sizes. We definitely want teachers to be appropriately compensated,” but as far as the strike goes,”I don’t agree with the way it’s taking place right now.” However Krowne disagrees saying that by pulling his children out of school, he’s making a statement to the district in support of the teachers.

When Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, spoke about the teacher’s strike, she said,”A strike is not a first resort for anyone. It’s a last resort — especially for teachers who are asked to do more with less every day. And enough is enough.”

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