LOS ANGELES - The United Teachers Los Angeles and Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner today have reached a tentative agreement, potentially ending the weeklong strike that rocked the nation’s second-largest school district. The tentative agreement called for reducing the city’s ballooning class sizes and required more support for students such as more librarians, nurses and counselors, in addition to a long-overdue salary increase for teachers. If UTLA members ratify the deal, more than 33,000 teachers could return to classes as early as Wednesday.
UTLA is a local affiliate of the 3 million-member National Education Association. The Los Angeles teachers’ strike was just the latest in the national #RedForEd movement that began with walkouts and work actions last year in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Washington state. The tentative agreement in Los Angeles comes on the same day as teachers in Denver are voting to authorize their own strike if an agreement cannot be reached in the Mile High City.
NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, who joined UTLA members on the picket lines throughout the strike and was on hand when the tentative agreement was reached, issued the following comment:
“Our members hit the picket lines because they were fighting for their students and the resources that the nearly 600,000 kids in Los Angeles public schools need to be successful. Over the last week, tens of thousands of educators withstood blistering rain to demand smaller class sizes so that educators can connect one-on-one with students, nurses in every school building, and more counselors and librarians. They also advocated for an increase in funding dedicated to special education, an investment in community schools instead of unaccountable charter schools, and a living wage so that teachers don’t have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet.
“UTLA members will be voting on this tentative agreement in the next six hours and, should this agreement be ratified, it will show that when educators stand together and raise their voices to ensure their students have everything they need to be successful. The 3 million members of the National Education Association are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our brothers and sisters in Los Angeles, and we will continue to stand with them as they keep fighting for their students and leading the teaching profession.
“The Los Angeles teachers’ strike was just the latest in the national #RedForEd movement. Although the bargaining issues vary greatly from place to place, there are some issues they all share: The concern that public education has been chronically underfunded in state and local budgets for decades, resulting in overcrowded classrooms, too few counselors and nurses, tattered textbooks held together by duct tape, broken computers and outdated materials, and buildings that have fallen into disrepair.
“We have witnessed educators working around the clock to make a difference in the lives of their students. They have stood up to decision makers to ask for adequate compensation that will attract and retain the best to the profession and secure much-needed school funding to ensure supportive teaching and learning conditions. And as state legislatures and school districts are starving public education — asking educators to do far more with far less — the corporate billionaires behind the growth of unaccountable charter schools have been privatizing public education and diverting resources from our children to their wallets. The message Los Angeles educators sent during this week-long strike is loud and clear: The public does not support any efforts that follow Betsy DeVos’s lead to privatize, de-professionalize and undermine public education.
“What we are witnessing is not a moment but a movement of and by educators who are fighting for the public schools our students deserve. We’re raising our voices together for our students, for our schools and for ourselves as educators. That’s why educators in Los Angeles and all over this country are #RedForEd.”
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