Aug 20, 2018
Los Angeles public school teachers have been working without a contract for more than a year. Negotiations between the teachers’ union, UTLA, and the school district stalled once again last month, with union leaders talking about the possibility of a strike in October.
UTLA is demanding a 6.5 percent annual pay raise retroactive to July 2017, while the district is offering 2 percent – an effective pay cut in view of inflation. But besides pay, the teachers’ union is raising a series of other issues. UTLA says it wants to get rid of a section in the current contract, which allows the district to ignore class size limits. In L.A.’s working-class neighborhoods, high school classes with 40 or more students have long become a common sight. UTLA also points to a grave shortage of librarians, counselors and nurses.
Add to this a shortage of other school workers not represented by UTLA – classroom aides, custodians, maintenance and office workers – and it’s obvious that L.A.’s schools, especially those in working-class neighborhoods, deprive most of their students not only of an education, but even a safe environment.
Only 40 percent of L.A.’s high school graduates met the English proficiency level required by public colleges, and only 30 percent met the requirements in math. In other words, a large majority of Los Angeles public school students enter the work force without the most basic skills necessary in today’s society.
District officials’ response to all this is to plead poverty – despite a surplus of 548 million dollars, and 1.7 billion dollars in cash reserves!