600,000 students affected as Los Angeles teachers go on strike

Teachers frustrated by a breakdown in negotiations have walked out of L.A. schools, leaving the district to scramble to keep them open

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. Teachers from the country’s second-biggest school district have gone on strike after weeks of negotiations for more pay and smaller class sizes went nowhere. (Photo by Barbara Davidson/Getty Images)


More than 600,000 students in Los Angeles, which holds the nation’s second largest school district, have been left wondering when they’ll see their teachers again after 32,000 educators walked off the job this week.

According to CNN, after weeks of unsuccessful negotiations between the United Teachers Los Angeles union and the Los Angeles Unified School District, Monday, teachers decided to go on strike.

“It’s absolutely not the pay raise,” said Andrea Cohen, who has taught at John Marshall High School for over 20 years. “It’s about class size reduction. In other words, hire more teachers.”

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Given that this is the country’s second-biggest school district, the teacher’s union wants smaller class sizes, higher teacher salaries, and more counselors and nurses.

“We want to have fully staffed schools,” continues Cohen. “That means librarians, nurses, psychiatric social workers and their interns. We have 46, 45, 50 students in a class. It’s unacceptable.”

All sides agree that the roughly 1000 schools in question are severely understaffed, but the point of contention is how these staffing demands would be funded. Despite the absence of 32,000 teachers and faculty, classes have not been cancelled and students are still expected to attend classes during the strike.

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While educators and administrators grapple to find a resolution, LAUSD is said to have hired approximately 400 substitutes and reassigned more than 2,000 administrators to help fill in the gaps.

Concerned parent Andrew Krowne told CNN that he plans to keep his four LAUSD children at home during the strike to keep them out of the fray.

“It’s just a sheer overwhelming number of children versus adults,” he explained. “I’m not risking my children’s safety.”

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On Friday, the school district said it “would add nearly 1,200 more educators — teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians — in schools, reducing class size in thousands of classrooms.” It also promised that in grades 4 to 6 class sizes would be limited to 35 students, and all middle and high school math and English classes would be limited to 39 students.

The LAUSD said the offer would also “ensure no increase in any class size, increase nurses, counselors and librarians at all schools, along with a 6% salary increase and back pay for the 2017-2018 school year.”

However, union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said the offer was “woefully inadequate” and only good for only one year anyways. In rebuttal, the union requested that LAUSD take money from its $1.86 billion in reserves to increase school staffing and boost teachers’ salaries by 6.5%.

But LAUSD says it’s not nearly as wealthy as the teachers’ union suggests.