Update: After a marathon negotiating session (that lasted twenty-one hours!), the Los Angeles Teachers Union finally reached an agreement and called off the strike that lasted nine days. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti helped the teachers and the school district reach an agreement, which Garcetti called historic because of how many changes are expected. The school district agreed to a six percent salary raise, a decrease in classroom size over the next few years, and an increase in the number of counselors, librarians, and staff.
Last year at Xyza, we talked about teacher strikes in many states across the country. Teachers most notably protested low wages that had not risen in many years. This year started with a new strike in California, more specifically in Los Angeles, and a pay raise was on the teachers’ list of demands in this strike as well. Like a lot of cities in California, Los Angeles has become an expensive place to live, and teachers say an increase in pay is necessary for them to continue teaching.
The teachers have other demands as well, including class size. Teachers claim that class sizes are too big to manage, especially in elementary and middle schools, and they are demanding that elementary school classes be limited to thirty-five students in grades four through six. In middle schools, teachers are demanding that class sizes be limited to thirty-nine students. (Did you know that in some urban parts of the US, class sizes are limited to between sixteen and twenty-eight students?)
In addition to class size, the teachers are concerned with resource allocation. Because so much focus in schools is on math and reading instruction, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) isn’t hiring enough professionals in other fields. The striking teachers say they need more librarians and counselors to help support them, thereby helping all students.
We don’t know how long the strikes will continue, but the LAUSD has kept schools open in the meantime. Students who do turn up will meet school staff and substitute teachers instead of their usual teachers. Many parents are choosing to keep their kids at home to support their teachers or because they don’t want their children to be at school without regular teaching staff.