This 11 March 2020 video says about itself:
Beautiful Hummingbirds in Slow Motion | BBC Earth
TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN ON THREATS President Donald Trump doubled down on his claim that the United States military has the right to target Iranian cultural sites, dismissing concerns from the public and even from his own administration that he would be committing a war crime by doing so. [HuffPost]
HOUSE TO VOTE ON RESOLUTION TO CURB TRUMP’S WAR POWERS “As Members of Congress, our first responsibility is to keep the American people safe,” Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to House Democrats following an escalation in tensions with Iran. “We are concerned that the Administration took this action without the consultation of Congress and without respect for Congress’s war powers granted to it by the Constitution.” [HuffPost]
IRAQI PARLIAMENT VOTES TO EXPEL FOREIGN TROOPS The Sunday vote came after Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi advised parliament to expel the troops in response to the Trump-ordered assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq. [HuffPost]
BORDER AUTHORITIES DENY DETAINING IRANIAN-AMERICANS U.S. Customs and Border Protection is denying reports that the agency has refused entry to some Iranian-Americans and detained others. “Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the U.S. because of their country of origin are false,” a spokesperson for CBP told HuffPost. [HuffPost]
This September 2015 CBS TV video from the USA says about itself:
California unveils plan to build overpass for wildlife
The $30 million overpass across one of Los Angeles County’s busiest freeways will be designed for wild animals, whose habitats are shrinking because of urban sprawl. Washington state broke ground on its first wildlife crossing in June. Ben Tracy reports on how the largest animal bridge in America could help save one of the last big carnivores in the western U.S.
A 21 August 2019 CBS TV video from the USA, soon removed from ouTube, used to say about itself:
Los Angeles one step closer to a first-of-its-kind wildlife crossing
Los Angeles is famous for its freeways and now it’s one step closer to building a major thoroughfare just for wildlife. An overpass estimated to cost $88 million is in its final design phase. It will allow mountain lions and other animals to roam more freely. Officials say it could help them avoid extinction. Carter Evans reports.
This 10 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:
Velvet Buzzsaw | Official Trailer
Velvet Buzzsaw is a thriller set in the contemporary art world scene of Los Angeles where big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce. Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton, Tom Sturridge, Natalia Dyer, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen, and John Malkovich star in the new mind-bending film written and directed by Dan Gilroy.
By David Walsh in the USA:
Velvet Buzzsaw: The horror of the art world
12 February 2019
Written and directed by Dan Gilroy
Dan Gilroy is one of the more interesting American filmmakers currently working.
He has now followed upon his Nightcrawler (2014), about the unscrupulous news gathering business, and Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017), centered on an idealistic lawyer and his challenges, with Velvet Buzzsaw, about the contemporary art world.
Gilroy fictionally savages the corruption, careerism and vacuousness that pervades this field, including its most prestigious exhibitions, galleries, museums and journals and the thoughts and opinions of its leading figures. The critical treatment is fully deserved and long overdue.
Velvet Buzzsaw, produced and distributed by Netflix, drops us immediately into the center of the art exhibition and criticism “business” at the for-profit and privately owned Art Basel fair in Miami Beach, one of the largest such events in the world. Much of the art work on display appears sterile and lifeless, and entirely indifferent to social realities.
The self-important Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal), an influential critic, arrives. The first work he comes upon is Hoboman, a homeless man as an animatronic art piece, who intones, “Have you ever felt invisible?”, along with a line from the Depression-era song, “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” (“Once I built a railroad …”).
Morf dismisses the piece as “an iteration… No originality. No courage.” The artist’s representative counters grandly that the work “encompasses on a global scale. There’s just such a sense of now and in your face, which speaks to pop and cinema and economics. I mean, you can feel the winds of the apocalypse… We have a four-million-dollar hold, a major buyer in Shanghai.”
Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo), a powerful, hardboiled gallery operator, is busy trying to promote her current artists and attract future ones. Asked about the cost of a “groundbreaking” piece, Rhodora replies, with relief, “So much easier to talk about money than art.”
A rival gallerist, Jon Dondon (the wonderful Tom Sturridge), a South African, is meanwhile attempting to “poach” veteran, cantankerous artist Piers (John Malkovich) from Rhodora, after 17 years of her showing him, with market-babble: “If you come with me, our gallery has cutting-edge analytics to maximize deal flow and global demand … In an attention economy, celebrity is art form.”
Rhodora attempts to impress a young African-American artist, Damrish (Daveed Diggs), who was “living on the street, showing on the sidewalk” only six months earlier, with her cool frankness: “All this … it’s just a safari to hunt the next new thing and eat it.”
Rhodora too had her rebellious phase, in a punk band, Velvet Buzzsaw, but, she explains, “I’ve gone from anarchist to purveyor of good taste.”
With everyone now back in Los Angeles, Morf takes up with Josephina (Zawe Ashton), an employee at Rhodora’s gallery, who has just found out her new boyfriend is cheating on her. (“I’m through dating artists. They’re already in a relationship.”) Morf is having his “own major second thoughts about Ed”, his live-in partner.
Gilroy’s film treats with withering scorn Gretchen (Toni Collette), a one-time art museum official who has just accepted a position as “an adviser for a private buyer”, someone fabulously wealthy. “I will be making enough to afford a terribly lovely car and garden”, she coyly says. Justifying her sell-out, Gretchen observes, “I came to the museum because I wanted to change the world through art. But the wealthy vacuum up everything, except crumbs. The best work is only enjoyed by a tiny few. And they buy what they’re told. So, why not join the party?”
She offers Morf “a generous, untraceable reward” for any art work he might be able to steer her to “in the realm of undervalued, pre-review, perhaps”, i.e., she wants tips on favorable reviews before they appear, a type of “insider trading.”
At Josephina’s request, Morf savagely pans a show by her ex-lover (whom the critic actually admires). The artist in question thereupon gets drunk and crashes his car, nearly killing himself.
Events take a dramatic turn when Josephina stumbles upon the art work of a recently deceased upstairs neighbor. As opposed to the empty efforts the galleries are displaying, the dead man’s paintings are figurative works, full of haunting human faces and bodies. The artist, Vetril Dease, lived entirely “off the grid” for decades and never attempted to exhibit or sell a single work. In fact, it turns out, he left strict instructions that his drawings and paintings were to be destroyed at his death.
Josephina takes ownership, publicly claiming she found Dease’s work in a dumpster. Rhodora, who inevitably sniffs out the find, insists on a partnership with Josephina: “You can engage me in an endless lawsuit, or … you can become rich and famous and successful. Which is what we both know you’ve always wanted.”
As for Morf, he offers Josephina his opinion that Dease’s paintings are “visionary. Mesmeric. An absolute incredible … mix of mediums. I’m ensorcelled.” Josephine: “Do you think there’s a market for it?” Morf: “Massive. Beyond.” Piers and Damrish, genuine artists, for all their difficulties, are awestruck in the face of the apparent authenticity of the art.
Once Rhodora begins to implement her “extensive marketing plans,” she confers with Morf, who opines pretentiously (in one of the film’s sharpest satirical moments!), “Critique is so limiting and emotionally draining. I’ve always wanted to do something long-form, beyond opinion. Dip my toe into an exploration of origin and essence. A metamorphosis of spirit into reality. I’ve … I’ve never had the vehicle until now. An artist toiling in the recesses, discovered in death.” Later, Morf goes on, “Well, I’m willing to write the exhibit brochure … And in return, I want exclusive rights to a book and several pieces.”
To this point, Velvet Buzzsaw has struck almost entirely the right note. The official art world is false, greedy and stupid. The artists are paralyzed and largely at its mercy. (Piers has one large painting of two drip-like shapes to show for a year’s output. “Ideas come,” he tells Dondon, his new artistic agent, “but they kill themselves as soon as they appear. This is a slaughterhouse. Welcome aboard.”) The appearance of work that sets out to genuinely use painting’s expressive possibilities comes as a revelation, a thunderbolt, even an indictment. (It’s clearly not accidental that a self-portrait by Lucian Freud, the figurative British painter, makes an appearance later in the work.)
Unfortunately, in my view, Gilroy then goes off on a wrong direction. The dead painter, Dease, horribly abused as a child, we learn, became something of a psychopath, with violent crimes to his name. Morf explains, in a voiceover, “The artist battled for decades with his personal demons. The result is an epic saga of violence and madness. A howl for answers and a resolution that never comes.”
The Dease show is a great success, his paintings go for premium prices. But the artist’s “spirit” sets about, as Morf realizes too late, revenging itself gruesomely, on “any of us who profited” from the work.
Gilroy’s disgust with the art trade is understandable, as is even the desire for some sort of dramatic “settling of accounts” with all the scoundrels involved. The quasi-supernatural element, however, becomes something of a distraction, and a detraction, something of an easy way out. …
This video is called VELVET BUZZSAW (2019) Ending Explained.
It’s not an “art world horror story,” but the true “story of the art world’s horror” that, above all, needs to be told.
In any event, even taking into account Velvet Buzzsaw’s missteps, it is a cut above nearly everything else currently available. Again, as far as it goes, its picture of opportunism (Morf=morph=to undergo transformation), greed and disorientation is entirely on the mark. Various critics, using the film’s problems as an excuse, have responded with obvious anger and dismay at the unflattering portrait of America’s “creative class.”
In 2017, the art market, according to the Art Market 2018 report, published—ironically—by Art Basel and UBS, “rebounded after two years of decline, with the total sales reaching USD 63.7 billion … The United States remains the largest market worldwide, followed by China, which has superseded the United Kingdom and is now in second position … The top three markets—the US, China, and the UK—accounted for 83 percent of total sales by value. At 42 percent the US is the undisputed global market leader. China is now just ahead of the UK at 21 percent versus 20 percent. This is explained by the presence of the major auction houses in New York, London, and Beijing.”
In an interview with Art Basel, economist Dr. Clare McAndrew noted that the “gap between the high-end and the rest of the market has become more pronounced in recent years.” McAndrew continued: “Works with prices above USD 10 million have outperformed other markets. There is a narrow focus on a small number of artists and the people who are selling their work, and this has had a big effect on sales. There are various reasons for it. Buying a work of art is a very large, infrequent, high-risk purchase for many people, and a way to reduce this risk is to look at what everybody else is doing, and consume what others are consuming. This creates a focus around a few artists at the high-end. As it becomes more concentrated, new buyers start to think that that’s all the art market is.”
Whether the buyers are making expensive investments or merely wish to possess works of art for their own selfish enjoyment, this is an obscene form of human-artistic trafficking.
Gilroy, the son of playwright Frank Gilroy (The Subject Was Roses, 1965) and the brother of screenwriter and director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, 2007), told an interviewer that “contemporary art was a movement that really began to challenge and to provoke, and it’s been co-opted by big business and money. And I saw it as a world off its axis … The quality of a work shouldn’t be judged by the first weekend of box office or the number of people who’ve seen it online or the amount paid at Sotheby’s. Success doesn’t diminish your work, but it doesn’t define it either.”
One only hopes that Gilroy will continue and deepen his “definite and important feeling for the world.”
By Dan Conway and Jerry White in the USA today:
Striking teachers in Los Angeles are expressing their anger over being kept in the dark on the content of the closed door negotiations between the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union and school district officials, which began last Thursday under the auspices of Democratic mayor Eric Garcetti. While the mayor has indicated that a deal could be reached before Tuesday, neither side has issued an official statement on the talks.
The walkout by more than 33,000 teachers, which began on January 14, has pit educators in the nation’s second largest school district against the entire Democratic Party establishment, which has overseen decades of defunding of public education and expansion of charter schools and other privatization schemes. Teachers who have not had a raise in a decade are fighting for improved wages and school funding, smaller class sizes and to halt the expansion of publicly funded private charters that siphon off resources and students from the traditional public schools. …
A student at Pepperdine University getting a Master’s degree in education and a student teacher who has joined the teachers’ picket lines and rallies said he is upset by the confidential negotiations and that the “union should be transparent.” He also said he supports expanding the strike throughout California. …
Los Angeles teachers must immediately demand that all negotiations between the district and the union be live-streamed over the internet.
When in 1980 there were negotiations between the Polish government and striking workers of the Gdansk Vladimir Lenin shipyard, the workers demanded these negotiations should be live on TV; which happened. Western corporate media then applauded that transparency. Now, you don’t hear them about the desirability of similar transparency in Los Angeles; as now, the strike is not against a communist party-led government, a Cold War rival.
The details of any deal reached between the two sides must be provided in full to the teachers who then must have adequate time to read and discuss before voting.
To fight for this, teachers should form rank-and-file strike committees in every school and community. These committees should fight to spread the strike to Oakland and across the state and prepare a statewide and national strike to defend public education. …
The teachers enjoy overwhelming popular support, with polls released last week by Loyola Marymount University and the local news outlets showing more than 80 percent of Los Angeles area respondents siding with the striking teachers, and two-thirds saying they are not paid enough and that class sizes are too big. …
Both political parties can find trillions for endless wars, Wall Street bailouts, corporate tax cuts and “border security” to hunt down and terrorize immigrants, but they all say there is no money for public education, decent wages, health care and pensions.
That is why the struggle by teachers is a political fight against the entire economic and political system. The resources required to pay teachers a living wage, to hire sufficient staff, to vastly improve public education and put an end to poverty and homelessness can only be attained through a frontal assault on the private fortunes of the rich.
Los Angeles teachers have the right to know the details of the negotiationsÑ here.
Support for LA teachers’ strike. Students and the fight to defend public education: here.
Virginia and Denver teachers set to strike as educators struggles continue to spread: here.
West Virginia teachers angered over renewed attack on public education: here.
Lack of teachers, work overload undermine Dutch education system: here.
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.
“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 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.”
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.’
“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.
“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 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.”
By Jerry White in the USA:
16 January 2019
Tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers and their supporters manned picket lines and marched downtown yesterday on the second day of the strike by 33,000 educators in America’s second largest school district. The walkout has generated widespread public support and growing calls for the spreading of the strike throughout California and more broadly.
For the second day in a row, as many as 50,000 strikers, parents and students converged on the city center, this time in front of the headquarters of the California Charter Schools Association. They were joined by 75 teachers who walked out at three charter schools operated by Accelerated Schools. …
There are growing calls by teachers throughout California and beyond for joint strike action. Teachers in Oakland are planning sickouts Friday to oppose threats by school officials to close one-third of the district’s schools, even as they expand privately run charter schools. Teachers in Denver, Colorado will be voting for strike action on January 19, and thousands of educators in Virginia are planning a mass rally in Richmond on January 28. …
A call must go out to all teachers in Oakland and across the state to carry out a joint statewide strike and to teachers and all workers throughout the US, including locked out federal workers and autoworkers facing the shutdown of GM plants, to prepare a general strike to oppose government austerity and social inequality. At the same time appeals should be made to striking Mexican auto parts workers, Dutch teachers and other workers around the world coming into struggle.
There is growing sentiment for such a fight. Precious, a young LA teacher, said, “We need to have a statewide and nationwide strike wave. This affects the whole working class. Every teacher I know is working a second or a third job, whether it’s tutoring or something else, to make ends meet. We’re just trying to keep our heads above the water instead of being under it using a straw to breathe. There is more power in numbers, and this should be a nationwide and even a worldwide fight.”
“It doesn’t matter if we are in southern or northern California, or anywhere else, we’re fighting the same fight,” said Rosemary, an LA teacher with 27 years’ experience. Retired teacher Mike added, “When I started teaching in 1985, the UTLA used to fight principals that bullied teachers and tried to push them out. Now they have ‘teacher jails’ where older teachers close to getting a vested pension and health benefits are abused and over-supervised. This goes unopposed by the UTLA and their paid staff who tell teachers, ‘You have to follow the district’s rules.’ We used to have 43,000 teachers, and now we’re down to 33,000. This was done with the help of the UTLA.”
Teachers also denounced the refusal of the UTLA to pay strike benefits. “They’ve been talking about a strike since 2017,” another teacher said. “We’ve been paying union dues, and there hasn’t been a strike for 30 years, so there should be money for us to strike. We should be getting $1,000 or $1,500 to help us pay our bills.
“Where did all this money go? The AFT president Randi Weingarten makes a half a million dollars a year. None of us are making that kind of money. Then the union is also giving millions to these politicians who say they are for us, but once they’re elected, they do nothing for us.”
From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:
Los Angeles teachers speak out on political issues in strike
By our reporters
16 January 2019
More than 33,000 Los Angeles teachers continued their strike for a second day, Tuesday. In spite of rain, tens of thousands arrived for a mass demonstration in downtown at the headquarters of the California Charter Schools Association. …
While teachers in Los Angeles are on strike, hundreds of teachers in Oakland announced they would launch a wildcat sickout this coming Friday while teachers in Denver, Colorado, will be voting on strike authorization this coming Saturday.
World Socialist Web Site reporters went to picket lines during the second day of the strike.
Alison is a senior at Phineas Banning High School. She denounced LAUSD and the state of California for being unable to serve students’ basic needs. “It’s ridiculous,” she said, “that we have to learn and be taught in this way. Our teachers come and work all day to teach us, are paid 6 hours for 8 plus hours of work, and still struggle to meet ends.”
She continued, “Sometimes kids don’t even have desks in their classes. My AP History class doesn’t have enough textbooks for the whole class and my AP Chemistry class doesn’t have enough text equipment for us to finish labs on time.”
Maria, a journalism teacher at Wilmington Middle School, responded to the call for a nationwide strike: “Yes, absolutely! We need to send a message that we know that we deserve better. We’re here to teach kids and we can’t do that in these huge classes, one with 30, the other with over 40 kids. We want to know how the money in reserve [$2 billion] is being used.”
Pedro, a teacher at Wilmington Middle School noted why he was on strike. “This strike is for the students,” he said. “We’re out here for students’ success. Smaller class sizes and more teachers are key. It’s much harder to reach 50 kids individually instead of 20.”
“One nurse for 1,600 students is not enough. We need more nurses, more librarians, more teachers. We’re fighting for the students. They [the LAUSD school board] keep saying there aren’t enough resources, but they’re just being greedy. There’s a massive surplus that they’re not using.”
Nancy Rubalcaba is a Special Education teacher at Gridley Elementary in the Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar. She has been at Gridley for eleven years. “In our case the LAUSD has increased class size on everything and they have taken away adult support workers from our classes.”
“[LAUSD leader Austin] Beutner went to court to try to prevent special ed teachers from striking, saying that we are not helping special ed students. I ask, how is he helping special ed students with all the cutbacks?
“You may say that I have been dealing with Special Education since I was 15 years old, taking care of my disabled sister. I have made it my career. I am responsible for children with moderate to severe disabilities, children who sometimes become violent and distressed.
“In this strike we are fighting for every student, not just the smart ones. Charter schools say that they admit their [legally required share of] 20 percent of students with special needs. Supposedly they use a lottery system to determine what students they admit. In practice, they have come up with ways of picking their students and avoiding IEP [Individualized Education Plan] students.”
Esmeralda Rubalcava is a tenth grader at John F. Kennedy High School. She spoke of the attempts by district officials to prevent students from expressing solidarity with their teachers.
“One of our seniors in charge for making announcements on the public address system was fired for saying that she supported the teachers. I am an Advanced Placement (AP) student in the medical magnet program at my high school. There are too many students in the classrooms. When there are so many students, it is hard to get individual help from the teachers.
“The administration acts like police. We are prevented from using our lockers because some students supposedly use them for bad things. The administration shuts down restrooms except during break times, because they are worried that students are doing bad things. At times in which we have been injured because of sports (I play soccer and volleyball) we don’t bother going to the nurse’s office because most of the time there will be no nurse there.”
Crystal Ruvalcaba recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a double Biology major (molecular cell and integrative biology), and a minor in Global Poverty.
“In 2010, I was a freshman in Granada High School, when a charter began taking it over, program by program. Eventually the charter gobbled-up the entire school. Personally, I felt like a number. Two years later I moved to a public high school. Charters want high test-scores. Students that get high grades, like me, did not even have to go through a lottery process to be part of the charter. In the case of students that did not test well or got low grades, the school would find ways of moving them out into public schools.”
Sandra Luna is a biology teacher at Lincoln High School in East Los Angeles.
“I’m here because I want smaller class sizes. I believe in the future of public education. I want to make sure that my students have better opportunities than what our education can offer right now.”
It’s like we’re glorified babysitters. It’s really hard to teach when I have 40 students. I worked at a charter school—the NEW Academy Canoga Park—before, and it was not a good experience. When I was there, they were embezzling money from the students. I was working in the office then and I couldn’t stay at a place like that in good conscience. We shouldn’t be giving them [charter schools] that money.
“Beutner isn’t a teacher, he doesn’t know what it’s like to handle 42 students, to run school gardens, to run a farmers’ market. It’s not right that he makes $350,000 when I have to have a small business on the sides to make ends meet.”
Mark Wilkins has been a special ed teacher at Lincoln High School for more than 34 years.
“We’re not on strike for salary. We’re striking to get more nurses, counselors, librarians and other support staff into the schools, and we’re striking to get lower class sizes.”
“They keep saying, ‘There’s no money, there’s no money.’ That’s a lie, and their priorities are all screwed up. Beutner wants to break the district up into 32 mini-districts. Do you know how much that is going to cost? In my opinion, that’s why they’re holding onto the $2 billion reserve. By breaking the district up it’ll make schools easier to charterize. And I bet then that money will come pouring in!”
When asked about teachers strikes last year, and the more recent wildcat in Oakland, Mark responded, “I think they’re all good, because we’re all fighting for the same thing. It’s interesting that we live in a society where teachers are required to have such high educations themselves—I have a PhD myself—and we get paid as much as people with no college education at all.”
A World Socialist Web Site reporter also asked Mark about comments recently made by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten that what’s happening in Los Angeles is not part of a strike wave but was only particular to the teachers and students in the city.
“We’re fighting for our students. But I think the wave of strikes that have been happening around the country are happening because teachers for years have been underpaid, uncared for, class sizes are high everywhere… If you look at teaching colleges across the country, they’re at about 25 percent capacity. Why? It’s because no one wants to go into teaching. And that’s true everywhere.”
Edgar Espinoza is a special education teacher at Banning High School and spoke about the question of strike pay and why the UTLA is not paying any to its members.
“I’ve been paying union dues for almost 20 years,” Edgar said. “I didn’t know we weren’t getting strike pay. Being on strike for any period of time is going to take a toll on us. Why isn’t the union giving this to us?”
Lois Caporale, an English and special ed advisor at Banning High, overheard Edgar and said, “Strike pay? That’s a good question. Why aren’t we getting it? I’ve been paying union dues for almost 20 years myself. Where’s all that money?”
Lois also spoke about the question of funding public education and the claims by state and national governments that there wasn’t enough money.
“When they say ‘there’s no money’ for our schools, that’s a nebulous term. Yes, there’s no money in the education fund.
“But I agree with you. We have the most billionaires in our state. So, there’s plenty of money.”
By Jerry White in the USA:
50,000 march on first day of Los Angeles teachers strike
15 January 2019
In a massive display of social opposition, more than 50,000 teachers, school personnel, parents and students marched in downtown Los Angeles Monday on the first day of the strike by educators in the nation’s second largest school district. The walkout by more than 33,000 educators, the first in the city since 1989, is part of the growing wave of working class struggles in the US and internationally against austerity and social inequality.
Monday morning began with teachers and their supporters picketing over 900 public schools across the Los Angeles Unified Schools District (LAUSD), a vast area that spans an estimated 920 square miles. Despite the pouring rain, striking teachers were joined on the picket lines by an estimated 10,000 parents, students and other community supporters.
After picketing in the morning, teachers and their supporters got on Metro trains and rode them to Grand Park station in downtown Los Angeles. Tens of thousands poured out of the station and gathered in the park and on the steps of city hall. They then marched in a mile-long throng to the LAUSD headquarters on Beaudry Avenue.
In comments to the press Monday, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner made the absurd claim that only 3,500 teachers had marched downtown and that substitutes brought in as strikebreakers had carried out a “normal school day”. Photographs taken by the Los Angeles Times, however, showed near empty school auditoriums where the handful of students sat throughout the school day.
The struggle in Los Angeles is a battle against the powerful financial and political interests that are pushing for the privatization of public education across the US. Beutner, a former investment banker, was appointed by school board officials whose elections were funded by the Eli Broad Foundation and other billionaire school privatizers.
The strike has won overwhelming popular support, with messages of solidarity flowing in from teachers across California, the US and internationally. Like their counterparts in LA, school officials in Oakland claim they are facing insolvency due to health care and pension obligations and are pushing for the closure of one-third of the district’s schools while expanding charters. Three thousand teachers, parents and students marched Saturday to oppose privatization and demand improved wages and school funding.
Beutner’s campaign to expand for-profit charter schools and privatization, however, has the full backing of both corporate-controlled parties. This was underscored by the statements on the eve of the strike. President Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, weighed in to denounce the Los Angeles teachers’ demands as unreasonable.
In a statement on the strike Monday, newly inaugurated Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom … made it clear he had no sympathy for the teachers’ demands and echoed Beutner’s self-serving statements that the teachers were hurting students by striking.
“This impasse is disrupting the lives of too many kids and their families,” Newsom said. “I strongly urge all parties to go back to the negotiating table and find an immediate path forward that puts kids back into classrooms and provides parents certainty.”
In his budget proposal Newsom, whose political career was funded by the billionaire Getty, Pritzker and Fisher families, has proposed no increase in per pupil spending, despite the fact that the state is rated 43rd in the nation. Instead, he has said he would follow the “fiscally prudent” model of his Democratic predecessor, Jerry Brown, who made some of the deepest public education cuts in state history.
Teachers have not seen a real raise in a decade, despite impossibly high housing and other expenses. They face chronic shortages of staff and supplies and the relentless campaign to drain resources to fund charter schools. …
Well aware that teachers are determined to fight school privatization and worsening social inequality, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl, in a morning rally, railed against “billionaire privatizers” and called for a mass protest in front of the California Charter School Association on Tuesday. He said the attack on public education came from every level of government.
Although there is widespread support for teachers from every section of workers, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is instructing its members, including school bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria, to scab on the strike. The UTLA has also told its 1,000 members who are charter school teachers to continue to work.
It is impossible for Los Angeles teachers to fight the powerful corporate and political forces arrayed against them on their own.
To spread the strike throughout the state, teachers must … form rank-and-file strike committees to reach out to educators across California, nationally and internationally. Rank-and-file committees should outline their own demands, including a 30 percent wage increase and the reconversion of all charter schools into public schools, and oversee all negotiations.
Teachers should appeal to support staff and charter school teachers to … join the strike. They should also reach out to other sections of workers—locked-out federal workers, Amazon, UPS and other logistics workers, oil refinery workers, dock workers, telecom, tech and manufacturing workers—to build up support for a general strike to fight austerity and social inequality.
This 14 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:
Students join teachers’ strike against LAUSD
Los Angeles students dropped their books and picked up picket signs to march alongside their teachers striking against the Los Angeles Unified School District. Some told us why they skipped school to join their teachers on the picket lines.
From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:
This walkout should be nationwide
Los Angeles teachers, students and parents speak out on first day of strike
By our reporters
15 January 2019
More than 33,000 school teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest, went on strike Monday. Reporters from the World Socialist Web Site spoke to many teachers at strike locations and at a mass march and rally in downtown Los Angeles attended by more than 50,000 teachers, parents, students and their supporters.
Like their counterparts who struck in West Virginia and other states last year, teachers and their supporters wanted to talk about the broader political issues behind the attack on public education, including the complicity of the Democrats who control every level of government in Los Angeles and California, and the explosive growth of social inequality in America. Many supported the call by the WSWS Teacher Newsletter to broaden the fight into a statewide and national strike by teachers and all workers against austerity and social inequality.
During morning picketing at Hamilton High School in West Los Angeles, Nancy, who has been teaching for five years, said, “We don’t have a full-time nurse in our school or enough counselors. The ratio is one for every 500 students. Our classes are too crowded and we’re working with different learning disabilities. We are fighting for more teachers in our classrooms because education is primary.
“Beutner and Eli Broad want to privatize and expand charter schools. We are so against them. We want to have public schools available for all students in Los Angeles. We should have a statewide strike because that would show that we are all together for the same cause.”
Pablo, who is also a teacher at Hamilton, denounced both corporate-backed parties for their attacks on public education. “The Democrats and Republicans get their money from the same sources, so they are doing the same thing. There is $1.9 billion in surplus budget to help community schools and to get more counselors and psychologists, so the money is there. This inequality will continue to exist in America. They want a class that is not so educated so that we won’t challenge the one and two percent that controls society.”
David, another veteran teacher, said, “The Democrats are joining with the Republicans. They are bought off by powerful corporations and they don’t stand with us like we thought they would. I hoped the new governor, Gavin Newsom, would stand strongly with us. I was surprised that he isn’t raising funding. He’s probably going to be like so many other politicians, just bought off.”
Referring to the comments of Arne Duncan, President Obama’s education secretary, who said the Los Angeles teachers’ demands were unreasonable, David said, “I’d like to see him walk in our shoes and work in our classrooms. But they just follow the corporate line because it benefits him.
“But we’re making a last stand, being the second largest school district in the country, we have to fight this fight. We got pushed into this fight. It would be great to expand this to the Oakland teachers and elsewhere because there is power in numbers.
“The money is consolidated in so few hands, it just goes to their greed glands. The same issues facing teachers are the same for all labor no matter what country we’re in. Wherever people are having to work for a living and are unfortunately living from paycheck to paycheck, they are exploited and being taken advantage of.
“We are just not listened to anymore and we haven’t been listened to for a long time. Maybe it’s getting to that point where we do all have to join forces to fight this. I think this country is great but it’s great because of the people who are working hard and trying to make a fair wage, and not those who are only trying to get rich.”
A foreign language teacher added, “They treat us like they are doing us a favor to grant us pay raises. That’s a joke because people are fighting for the minimum requirement and to have a respectful environment to work in. They’re not doing us a favor. This is the basics, and this strike should have been done years ago.
“The walkout should be nationwide. Teachers are not only underpaid, the fact that they are treating us like this is disgraceful. We have to do whatever it takes and not go back to the classrooms until they provide the right environment for me and my students. If we keep showing up to work without this it’s like saying, ‘disrespect us more.”
Calvin, a junior at Hamilton High School, said, “I’m out here to support the teachers fight for what’s right for us. I really want to get politically involved with their fight. I know that a lot of my classmates want to get politically involved as well.
“Classes at our school are just too large. Not only that, but they we don’t have a lot of courses anymore since many of those have been cut. I’m really interested in Physics, for example, but some of our Physics classes have been cut recently.”
When asked about the need for a statewide struggle, Calvin said, “I think you’re right. This is a powerful movement right now and I’m hoping it will inspire other students and teachers to join.”
Aiyama, a junior at Hamilton High, said, “I am here to support the teachers because there have been so many teachers at this school that have supported me. I am in the music academy program, so whether it be academically, or for my extracurricular activities, or whenever I have needed anything, they have been there for me. I feel it is my duty as a student to support them back. Some teachers live paycheck to paycheck to help us have a career. They should not have to live like that.”
As to why California, the richest state in the country cannot provide sufficient resources for education Aiyama pointed to her sign , which read, “LAUSD SPENDS 60+ MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR ON SCHOOL POLICE! IS THIS COLLEGE OR PRISON PREP?” She explained, “It is ridiculous that they spend more money insuring we have police on campus instead of nurses, librarians, and counselors.”
WSWS reporters also spoke to several students at the downtown demonstration and at surrounding area schools. Lamuel and Eduardo attend Belmont High School, located north of the Los Angeles city center. They are both seniors. They were at the rally to support the teachers along with Lamuel’s mother, who is a biology teacher at Belmont High School.
“One of the big issues in my school is the number of students in each class,” said Lamuel. “In my AP English Lit class there are more than fifty students. Other classes have between 45 and 50 students.
“My mother is a teacher. I can see the stress that all this creates. When we moved to Los Angeles from the Philippines five years ago, we lived with other teachers for a while. I have seen them grading papers at three o’clock in the morning. With so many students, teachers can’t focus on all the students.”
Lamuel’s friend Eduardo spoke about the conditions in Los Angeles schools. “At the beginning of the school year there were no desks for all the students in our English lit class. They had to sit on the side.
“The building itself is old. Water fountains stop working and there is a lack of open restrooms. Teachers buy supplies on their own without ever getting reimbursed. They buy rulers, crayons, pencils, even paper and notebooks, for their classes.”
Conrad, a special education teacher at Hamilton, expressed disgust over the failed efforts by the district last week to place an injunction on special education teachers, thereby preventing them from participating in the strike.
“They’re talking about raising caseloads for special education teachers. That’s just something that we can’t cope with. We have a lot of difficulties existing with our current caseloads of students. This is not just because of the special circumstances of each student but also because in many cases these students come from impoverished situations. It makes it all the more difficult.”
Asked about what he thought about the teachers’ struggle in Oakland, Conrad said, “I actually grew up in that area and have two friends who are Oakland teachers. Just last night we texted, and they wished me the best of luck. They told me ‘we’re watching you very closely, the whole world’s watching you. Good luck.’ Some teachers in San Francisco said they want to come down and be with us.
“We’re all very excited to be here but it is difficult being out of the classroom and not getting paid.” Asked about why the UTLA is not using its strike fund to pay teachers, Conrad said, “Well, I don’t know the details of the union’s finances, but it would seem to me that if you have 30,000 teachers and you haven’t been on strike for 30 years, there should be a lot of money in that fund.”
Also at the downtown demonstration was Aida, a teacher at Normont Elementary for 11 years. She is a special needs resource teacher and said the difficulties her students and staff faced brought her out to the strike.
“How do they expect us to care for such large class sizes? And on top of that they put students with vastly different educational needs and abilities together,” Aida said. “We are not given enough staff or resources to meet their needs.”
En route to the downtown march on the metro train system, Stacy, a veteran of the Los Angeles teachers’ last strike three decades ago told the WSWS, “I was on the line in 1989 and have been teaching for 33 years. For us, our school has a charter school co-located on our campus. The charter school took away our art room, music room and computer lab, and now we’re cramming kids into small spaces, and its completely unfair. From overcrowding and unfair wages, and not doing right by our children, something has got to change.
“The changes over the last 30 years haven’t always been obvious but clearly the systemic issues haven’t gone away. We’re still in the same fight as we were in 1989. The claim that there is no money for schools is ridiculous.”
As 33,000 Los Angeles teachers began walking picket lines on Monday, simmering anger over continuing underfunded education, poor pay, diminishing pensions and chronic teacher shortages is already beginning to come to a boil in other school districts around the US. Teachers in Denver, Colorado will decide by the end of this week if they will strike against the Denver Public Schools (DPS). Teachers have been attending open negotiating sessions, holding strike preparation meetings and speaking to parents over the last week: here.
This 14 January 2019 CBS TV video from the USA is called Los Angeles teachers go on strike after failed negotiations with district.
By David Brown in the USA:
Los Angeles teachers strike in second largest school district in US
14 January 2019
More than 33,000 teachers in Los Angeles, California went on strike Monday morning, setting up picket lines at more than 1,200 public schools in the second largest school district in the US. Teachers are demanding higher wages, smaller class sizes and more support staff.
The walkout is the largest struggle by educators since the wave of statewide strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona from March to May in 2018. Unlike those previous strikes, where teachers were largely confronting Republican-controlled state governments, Los Angeles teachers are in a direct battle with the Democratic Party, which controls every lever of government in Los Angeles and California.
The superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Austin Beutner, a former investment banker, is backed by powerful corporate interests, including the Eli Broad Foundation, pushing for the privatization of public education across the country. Beutner is demanding teachers accept a de facto freeze in real wages, increased health care costs and higher class sizes.
Arne Duncan, the former secretary of education who spearheaded President Obama’s corporate-backed “school reform” agenda, weighed in to denounce the Los Angeles teachers. LAUSD, he said, “is spending half a billion dollars more each year than it brings in and is headed toward insolvency in about two years if nothing changes… It simply does not have the money to fund UTLA’s demands.”
In fact, the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) has abandoned many of the teachers’ most critical demands—including an end to unlimited testing and the expansion of for-profit charter schools, which drain some $600 million annually from public schools.
However, Los Angeles teachers, with the overwhelming support of students and parents, are determined to defend the right to quality public education.
Both the school district and the state of California have budget surpluses. Beutner and Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom are deliberately withholding funds to the public schools to provoke a budget crisis in order to demand sweeping concessions and more privatization. While handing billions in tax cuts to Silicon Valley and the entertainment, finance and defense industries, California has still not restored school funding to pre-2008 levels. It is ranked 43rd in the nation in per-pupil spending.
There is widespread support throughout California for a statewide strike. Thousands of teachers, parents and students protested in Oakland on Saturday against the threatened closure of one-third of the district’s 76 schools. Teachers in Virginia, Indiana, Denver, Colorado and other states are threatening strikes and protests.
Susan Chiodo, a third-grade teacher at Sequoia Elementary, told the World Socialist Web Site, “A nationwide strike is important because I don’t think it’s just a local issue. The reason it needs to be a bigger strike than just one district, or even one state, is so that everyone puts their money where their mouth is, and it becomes a moment where everyone says, ‘We as a nation want public education, so we need to change.’”
In an article, “Looming Los Angeles teacher strike could herald fresh wave of unrest”, Politico warned that the walkout posed the danger of “a new wave of ‘educator spring’ activity”, but this time in Democratic controlled states… “The fight is being watched closely in California and elsewhere to see if it is a harbinger of similar teacher labor action in the rest of the state or the nation”, the publication wrote.
It is impossible for Los Angeles teachers to fight the powerful corporate and political forces arrayed against them on their own. Teachers must take the conduct of the struggle … by forming rank-and-file strike committees to reach out across the state, nationally and internationally.
These rank-and-file committees should call on the more than 30,000 cafeteria aides, custodians and other support staff, being sent across the picket lines by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), to support the struggle of teachers. They would organize mass picketing to close the 244 charter schools, which plan to operate during the strike.
LA teachers must link up with Oakland teachers to make plans for joint strike action in preparation for a statewide strike. At the same time, teachers must reach out to every section of workers—locked out federal workers, Amazon, UPS and other logistics workers, oil refinery workers, dock workers, telecom, tech and manufacturing workers—to build up support for a general strike to fight austerity and social inequality.
The battle of California teachers is a part of a growing wave of class conflict throughout the US and around the world. General Motors workers in Oshawa, Canada held a series of wildcat job actions last week and US workers are organizing to oppose plant closures.
Thousands of French workers, including teachers, have been holding weekly “yellow vest” protests against the austerity policies of president Emmanuel Macron, and Dutch teachers and lecturers have voted to strike in March. Sri Lankan plantation and Bangladeshi garment workers held strikes earlier this month and tens of millions of Indian workers carried out a two-day general strike last week.
The Los Angeles teachers strike heralds the escalation of class struggle throughout the world as 2019 begins.
Thousands of French teachers join “Red Pens” protest on Facebook. “We have the same fight in France as the US”: here.