Los Angeles, USA teachers, parents, students speak


This 16 January 2019 CBS TV video from the USA is about the Los Angeles teachers’ strike.

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

Tens of thousands marched on picket lines and joined six regional rallies on Wednesday despite a third day of unusually cold, rainy weather in Southern California. Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site discussed the plans by teachers in Oakland to organize sickouts Friday and the need for teachers to form rank-and-file committees … to spread the strike across California and the US.

Melissa is a parent of both a first and fourth grader in the West Los Angeles area. Both she and her children attended a regional rally there.

Melissa with her children

“What inspired me to come join the picket today was how amazing our teachers are and how hard they work. I feel like now is the time to make education a priority in LA, in the state and across the country. I’m really hoping that this strike can spark something nationwide. It’s about time we change how we think about education and how we prioritize education, and I’m hoping this will spark a movement.”

When she heard about the potential for Oakland to go on strike, she said, “That’s great!”

“I think that we should partner up with the charter school teachers and put the pressure on education as a whole. I feel like there’s a lot of in-fighting between charter schools and public schools, and we really need to unite.”

Naz Somech and her son Eli also attended the rally. “I definitely support a statewide strike and a nationwide strike. All the teachers have to get together from all the states. This is bigger than just LA. There’s Oakland and other states that are facing the same issues.”

“A lot of the 2020 Democratic nominees are using this strike in LA to boost their campaigns, which is just wrong. In California, we’re being tricked by the Democrats, it’s like a mind game.”

A nurse with more than 10 years’ experience added, “In LAUSD just for diabetic students we have 1,000 encounters a day that nurses have to deal with. We don’t even have 500 nurses in the district so just scheduling that volume of support for that one section of students is difficult. You frequently have nurses leaving their campuses to help students at a different school.

“If students have severe allergies and need epi-pens, they have to get a doctor’s note to keep the medicine at school. There was a student at a campus without a nurse who started having a reaction, so I sent over a box of epi-pens ASAP but had to send them with a non-medical employee. Out of the whole box they accidentally administered the training pen that didn’t have any medicine.

“Luckily I was able to follow close behind and was able to fix it and call 911. But if I had been delayed, the student could have died. I had to tell the student’s mom that she should keep her kid out of school until she had the order to keep an epi-pen on site.”

Rosalyn is a science teacher at Emerson Middle School, a district-run charter school who attended the West Los Angeles rally with a coworker. “Our classes are huge, we get a nurse once a day, there aren’t enough counselors and some math classes are up to 50 students.”

Rosalyn

A coworker explained, “The charters drive out all the students with major difficulties and then they try to tell us that these separate school systems are equal. They’re turning education into a cottage industry so that they could make a profit. It’s just like the prison system.”

“California is run by Democrats and we have the second biggest number of prisoners. Now they want to turn a profit off our students. Liberals serve business same as Republicans, just a slightly different way.”

Her coworker agreed, “Red flag, blue flag, it doesn’t matter, for the politicians it’s all about the money.”

At Eagle Rock High School near downtown Los Angeles, teachers and students on the picket line experienced a groundswell of public support. Cars passing by regularly honked their horns in support of teachers during the early morning, while numerous homes had signs in windows and on front lawns supporting teachers.

Dave, a counselor at Eagle Rock since 1995, said, “We have such great parent support. It’s very heartening also to see many of our students on the picket line here with us. They’re learning a lot. They keep telling me, ‘we’re part of history, we’re part of history.’

Dave

“The students aren’t simply out here because they like us but because they’re experiencing many of the same issues themselves. The class sizes are just too big. I know one of our science teachers has 54 kids in one classroom, 56 kids in another. The fact is we want better conditions because it’s best for the kids. They want to learn, and they can’t do that in an overcrowded classroom.”

On the idea of expanding the strike, he said, “That would be awesome. I’ve read so many statements of support from teachers across the country. They wish us well and wish they could be out here with us. But yes, the more cities and districts are out, the more this struggle will grow. It will be a domino effect and real change will happen.”

Sofia, Priscilla and Cecilia are all seniors at Eagle Rock High School. Priscilla said, “Our classrooms are definitely overcrowded. Sometimes there are so many kids that the noise in the classroom prevents us from learning.

Sofia, Priscilla (center), and Cecilia

“Our teachers come to school every day with a smile on their faces. They definitely deserve a pay raise. I totally support teachers from across the state and across the country standing up for what they believe in too. Teachers and students are all dealing with the same situations. Not just Los Angeles.”

The World Socialist Web Site also received a statement of support from Michael Holmes, an English teacher at Fremont High School in Oakland, California. “I stand in solidarity with the teachers in LA and their refusal to accept the narrative that California, a state that hosts over a hundred billionaire-residents, cannot depart from its pro-market, pro-capitalist stance long enough to fund an equitable public education for ALL its kids, and a living wage for ALL the people who work at the schools.

“The issue exposes the fact that even a state with a Democratic Party supermajority in its legislature is far from compassionate, or just, in terms of supporting its youth and working class. CA ranks as one of the states that spends the least per student. LA teachers are standing up not just for a better deal in their district, but as a symbol of the need for a statewide and nationwide strike. No more passive acceptance of morally bankrupt state and national governance.”

Steven Perez

Steven Perez has taught at Emerson Middle School in West Los Angeles for 25 years. He said, “Beutner denies that he’s superintendent because he supports charterization, but everyone knows that’s why he’s there. His plan to create 32 ‘networks’ and ‘portfolios’ is designed to break up the school district and lay the basis to create more charter schools.

The billionaires want the charters because they know there’s billions to be made for the tech companies, for the consultants, they’re getting tons of money out of that. But it’s not helping the schools or the students.”

“We absolutely support Oakland teachers. It’s not just about this state, it’s across the country. We’ve had some fairly successful strikes across the country recently, but people have to stand up and unite. The public is mostly on the teachers’ side, on the side of public education, because they realize what has happened in the last 15 years.

“They say this is the ‘new normal’ to have one counselor for hundreds of students, a nurse one day per week, etc., but I don’t accept this. That would have been unheard of a couple decades ago, and we’re saying now that we don’t accept it.”

9 thoughts on “Los Angeles, USA teachers, parents, students speak

  1. There is something happening in Los Angeles that you need to know about and that we all need to do something about.

    Today, for the first time in 30 years, more than 30,000 Los Angeles public school teachers are on strike fighting for smaller class sizes and decent wages, for nurses, counselors and librarians in their schools, and against a coordinated effort from billionaires on the right to make money privatizing public education.

    Public education is fundamental to any functioning democracy, and teaching is one of its most valuable and indispensable professions.

    So how is it that the top 25 hedge fund managers in this country make more money than the combined salaries of every kindergarten teacher?

    How is it that the billionaires of this country get huge tax breaks, but our teachers and children get broken chairs, flooded classrooms and inadequate support staff in their schools?

    That is what a rigged economy looks like.

    In the richest country in the history of the world, our teachers should be the best-paid in the developed world, not among the worst-paid.

    So I stand in solidarity with the United Teachers of Los Angeles. Because a nation that does not educate its children properly will fail, and I applaud these teachers for leading this country in the fight to change our national priorities. Today, I am asking you to do the same:

    Add Your Name: Tell the striking teachers in Los Angeles that you are following their struggle and stand in solidarity with them. We will make sure your messages of support get to these teachers.

    But what we really need in this country is a revolution in public education.

    What we accept as normal today with regards to education, I want your grandchildren to tell you that you were crazy to accept.

    And in my view, that conversation starts, but does not end, with early-childhood education.

    That is not just my opinion. Research tells us that the “most efficient means to boost the productivity of the workforce 15 to 20 years down the road is to invest in today’s youngest children.”

    So it is not a radical idea to say that we need to provide free, full-day, high-quality child care for every child, starting at age three, so that they will be guaranteed a pre-kindergarten education regardless of family income.

    That is common sense.

    But in the twenty-first century, a public education system that goes from early childhood education through high school is not good enough.

    The world is changing, technology is changing, our economy is changing. If we are to succeed in the highly competitive global economy and have the best-educated workforce in the world, I believe that higher education in America should be a right for all, not a privilege for the few.

    That means that everyone, regardless of their station in life, should be able to get all of the education they need.

    Today in America, hundreds of thousands of bright young people who have the desire and the ability to get a college education will not be able to do so because their families lack the money. This is a tragedy for those young people and their families, but it is also a tragedy for our nation.

    Our mission must be to give hope to those young people. If every parent in this country, every teacher in this country, and every student in this country understands that if kids study hard and do well in school they will be able to go to college, regardless of the income of their family, that will have a radical impact on primary and secondary education in the United States—and on the lives of millions of families.

    That is what we can accomplish by making public colleges and universities tuition-free, because every American, no matter his or her economic status, should have the opportunity for a higher education. And, at the same time, we must substantially lower student debt.

    But getting there will take a political revolution in this country, and a radical change in national priorities.

    Instead of giving huge tax breaks to billionaires and profitable corporations, we must create the best public educational system in the country. Instead of major increases in military spending, we must invest in our kids.

    And today, the most important step in that direction starts with standing in solidarity with the teachers in Los Angeles.

    Add Your Name: Tell the striking teachers in Los Angeles that you are following their struggle and stand in solidarity with them. We will make sure your messages of support get to these teachers.

    Through our support for these teachers, we have a chance to reaffirm our support for quality public education and the right of all children to receive the best education possible.

    Thank you for standing with them.

    In solidarity,

    Bernie Sanders

    ADD YOUR NAME

    Paid for by Friends of Bernie Sanders

    (not the billionaires)

    PO BOX 391, Burlington, VT 05402

    Like

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