Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Billionaires Vs. Teachers in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles teachers' strike isn't all about wages. At its core, the strike is a fight against a hostile takeover of public schools by the superrich.

People rally in the streets of downtown in the pouring rain during a United Teachers Los Angeles strike on January 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. , Barbara Davidson / Getty Images

Unlike many labor actions, the Los Angeles teachers’ strike is not really about wages or benefits. At its core, this is a struggle to defend public schools against the privatizing drive of a small-but-powerful group of billionaires.
The plan of these business leaders is simple: break-up the school district into thirty-two competing “portfolio”networks, in order to replace public schools with privately run charters. As firm believers in the dogmas of market fundamentalism, these influential downsizers truly believe that it’s possible to improve education by running it like a private business. Not coincidentally, privatization would also open up huge avenues for profit-making — and deal a potentially fatal blow to one of the most well-organized and militant unions in the country, the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA). As union leader Arlene Inouye explains, “This is a struggle to save public education; the existence of public education in our city is on the line.”
It’s always important to “know thy enemy.” But this is especially true for the educators’ movement in Los Angeles, which is directly challenging an unholy alliance of the some of richest individuals in the United States. Here’s a short primer on the corporate “who’s who” aiming to destroy public schools in LA — and across the nation.
The Walton Family
In a watershed moment for the drive to take over Los Angeles public education, pro-charter billionaires spent an unprecedented $9.7 million to buy the 2017 Los Angeles school board elections. A key funder of this campaign to elect charter school acolytes was none other than the Walton Family, best known as the founders of Walmart.

Why The LA Teachers’ Strike Matters

3 reasons to pay attention to the LA teacher strike. The Conversation: “The first mass teacher labor action of 2019 is unfolding in California as the United Teachers Los Angeles walked out for the first time in 30 years. This strike, which began on Jan. 14, isn’t just important to people in Los Angeles. Here are three reasons the nation should pay attention. With 640,000 students, and about 500,000 enrolled in the district’s public schools, Los Angeles represents the second largest school district in the United States. The only bigger district is New York City. Like strikes in Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado and North Carolina, the Los Angeles teachers’ strike is essentially about greater investment in public education. For the Los Angeles teachers, this includes a 6.5 percent salary increase to make up for what the union calls ‘stagnant wages.’ The average teacher makes almost 19 percent less in wages than comparable workers. But beyond wages, teachers have begun to demand a greater commitment to investment in public education from their governing bodies, either school boards or state legislatures. The Los Angeles teachers strike suggests that the wave of teacher protests is not over. Teacher strikes and work stoppages have been preceded by a nationwide teacher shortage that continues to grow across many states, which do not have enough certified math, special education, science, and in increasing cases, elementary teachers – to meet the needs of their students. In California 80 percent of districts reported a teacher shortage in the 2017 to 2018 school year. Teacher shortages are most often blamed on low teacher pay, one of the commonalities across teacher strikes. As long as public schools remain underfunded, the nation can expect to see more teacher strikes in other school districts and states in the near future.”

Progressive Breakfast 

Quality essay on the Strike - here.  for Labor Notes here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

How to Win a Teachers Strike

You need a movement to win a strike.

DSA members on this morning's picket line. 


30,000 Teachers On Strike in Los Angeles

Teachers and employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school system, say that working conditions have become untenable. Despite California’s reputation as a progressive bastion, the state still spends relatively little on public education — about half as much as New York spends on the average child. 
Now, educators are demanding higher pay, smaller class sizes and the hiring of more support staff like counselors and librarians.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Los Angeles Teacher _ The Strike

My brothers and sisters, the 31,000 UTLA teachers who will strike, do so at great risk of their personal and professional well-being. There is every indication the Los Angeles Unified School District will make every attempt to prolong the strike in an attempt to weaken the union’s attempt to improve the school and classroom environment for the over 600,000 students who attend classes in the district’s schools.
Although 98% of us authorized this strike and are prepared to go the long haul to guarantee its success, a strike of this magnitude brings along with it a number of challenges. Teachers will be on the picket line each and every day without pay for the duration of the strike.
Like too many of us are all too familiar with, my comrades live paycheck-to-paycheck, have pressing healthcare issues, and children of their own, also students in LAUSD public schools.  Any amount you can contribute will help in any of a number of ways to alleviate some of the stress teachers will inevitably encounter. Thank you for supporting UTLA teachers and this crucial moment in the history of public education.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Teachers to hold "Teach In" at Tornillo Detention ...

 Teachers to hold "Teach In" at Tornillo Detention ...: In February, educators will gather outside a massive detention camp for migrant children and stage a 24-hour "teach in."  ...

Note; The Los Angeles Teachers' Strike date has been postponed until Monday. 

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Los Angeles Teachers Strike Approaches

The Los Angeles school district has $2 billion in reserves, but it’s not willing to use the money to create the conditions educators need to help students succeed.
Educators in L.A. have been bargaining for 20 months, fighting not just for fair salaries but for every child in the city to have a safe and welcoming place for learning, and against the austerity measures for public schools the district’s superintendent continues to promote.
The members of United Teachers Los Angeles are fighting for issues that, sadly, are too familiar: adequate funding for public schools, full-time counselors and nurses in every school, smaller class size, fair compensation and community schools.
And the boss? Superintendent Austin Beutner is intent on dismantling the school district and prioritizing charters, which syphon off $600 million a year. What he doesn’t prioritize—20 months after the contract expired—is neighborhood schools or a fair agreement with the district’s educators.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Why the Los Angeles Teachers Strike Matters

The January 10 strike date announced by the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) has heightened tensions in an already contentious dispute with Los Angeles Superintendent Austin Beutner, who represents the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in negotiations. However, far more is at stake in Los Angeles and for the rest of us than a traditional contract struggle.
Given how many students LAUSD educates, the possibility of a strike by its union is huge news. LAUSD has 694,000 in its schools. The entire state of Oklahoma educates about that same number of students in its public schools.
The reforms LAUSD has demanded in Los Angeles schools are based on the bipartisan project to convert public education into a lucrative market for wealthy investors. Merrill-Lynch heralded this change in a 1999 report for prospective investors: “A new mindset is necessary, one that views families as customers, schools as ‘retail outlets’ where educational services are received, and the school board as a customer service department that hears and addresses parental concerns.”
Networks of wealthy billionaires and the foundations they create have advocated and imposed reforms nationally, even globally, we see today in LA schools: using standardized tests to control what and how children learn; creating charter schools to weaken neighborhood schools and undermine parent loyalty to public education; creating new revenue sources for corporations to profit from education; and weakening teachers unions. The “portfolio model” LAUSD has announced it will adopt fragments the school system into networks operated by private charter management organizations.

Los Angeles Teachers Prepare for a Strike

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the union president, center, at a rally in December.
Alex Caputo-Pearl, the union president, center, at a rally in December.
Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press
Los Angeles public school teachers are preparing to strike on Thursday — the culmination of months of failed negotiations and what educators say is years of disinvestment in the nation’s second-largest school system. 
District officials have said that the money simply isn’t there and that the frustration should be directed at the state. 
My colleagues Jennifer Medina and Dana Goldstein reported in this piece that the strike will affect 900 schools, 30,000 teachers and more than 600,000 students. That’s where you come in. 

The impending strike highlights the fact that despite California’s reputation as a center of liberal policy, it spends relatively little on public education. School spending levels, about $11,000 per student in 2016, are far below those in other blue bastions; for example, California spends about half as much as New York on the average child.

Education advocates on all sides of the labor impasse in Los Angeles say that it is the neediest students who are hurt most by funding constraints. More than a fifth of public school students in California are still learning English, the highest percentage in the country.
“California has been underfunding its schools for many, many years,” said Pedro Noguera, a professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has worked closely with Los Angeles and New York public schools.

The state has only recently begun to restore deep cuts made during the last recession, when California was hit particularly hard. “It’s not even close to where we should be,” Professor Noguera said. “I would not say that the state has deliberately starved the schools, but there has been no leadership from the state.”
Underlying the debate between the two sides is a situation they agree is a major problem: that high-needs school districts like Los Angeles, where 82 percent of students are low-income, bear the brunt of the burden from the state’s low education spending.

With many wealthy and white families opting to choose charter or private schools, or move to other surrounding school districts, the Los Angeles school district is disproportionately African-American and Latino. A study from U.C.L.A.’s Civil Rights Project found that Latino students in Los Angeles are more segregated than anywhere else in the country.
In other districts in California — Oakland, in particular — as well as in Virginia and Indiana, teachers angry over pay and limited resources have raised the possibility of protests.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.
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