On Strike

The public supports us.

Being on strike makes me proud. To see and hear the support of the public every morning on the picket line, I am further convinced L.A. teachers made the right choice to leave the classroom. It is not an easy choice for many single income teachers, but it is one of the reasons we are striking. Teachers should not have to live paycheck to paycheck when educating society's children.

But our strike is about more than that, and it seems the public is aware of what we have been concerned about for years. In the middle of one morning's picket session I realized that the education reformers had been so very wrong in what they were telling us. The public knows and understands that we know what's best for children in schools. They place their precious children in our hands to educate, and want us to do our job unencumbered by district edicts and structures that get in the way.

The public supports us.

Being on strike is not what I thought it would be. It is be…

The Infantilization of Teachers/Why We Will Strike

The work never ends when you are teaching a 4 new grade levels, 3 new courses, and adjusting to life in a new school and community. It seems like the fall semester flew by in the blink of an eye, perhaps because trouble was brewing in the background with our teacher contract negotiations with management.

The start of bargaining began almost 2 whole years ago when LAUSD presented their initial bargaining offer that included a whopping 0% raise. As if a 0% raise wasn't insulting enough, our new Superintendent who has a 0% background in education decided he could most help support the district by weeding out bad teachers.

I could hardly believe my ears, knowing that the last 10 years have been wasted on the Quixotic journey to find the elusive elixir that will expose these so called "bad teachers", fire them, and so all can be well in the schools.

In other words, nevermind that teachers are professionals, working in challenging conditions with unacceptable class sizes and lower salaries than similarly educated peers...they should be happy to have a job and benefits and should stop rocking the boat.

To say that negotiations got off to a bad start is an understatement.
“If you go back to September, to Mr. Beautner’s first really public comments on the negotiations process, he spoke at length about the need to get rid of bad teachers … that struck me either as very unthoughtful and unreflective or more likely a strategic effort to distance himself from the teachers union at a moment when he could’ve been building bridges and seeking to develop common cause.” UCLA Professor John Rogers to the Los Angeles Times

More recent negotiations included a media blast indicating we had been offered a 6% raise. To the general public that may sound like our 6.5% demand had been pretty much met. But the offer's fine print required teachers to work an additional 2 days for 1% of that raise. That is NOT a true raise.

I hate that we have to fight for 1%.

A few weeks ago, a current board member told parents at a meeting that teachers were likely to strike for just a few days, to "get it out of their system."

I thought of all the nights over dinner where my husband and I reviewed the negotiations (or lack thereof), when I spoke of the challenges at both my old school and new about ballooning class sizes and lack of maintenance. When we planned financially for the possibility of a strike. When I answered concerned questions from all of the parents I still keep in touch with. Get it out of my system? As if I were an impatient teen, or a toddler who couldn't wait for dessert? Infantilization.

What this school board member, our Superintendent, and local billionaire bullies don't understand is that teachers are highly equipped to understand contracts, budgets, propaganda, and gaslighting. You have underestimated us. We are striking a plethora of reasons, with salary being just one component. No one cares more about our students than we do, except their parents. Which is why parent after parent has thanked us for sacrificing our pay to stand up for what we believe in: appropriately funded and managed schools whose working/learning conditions should be a source pride for Angelenos, not a dull ache in their heart.


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