Los Angeles Unified teachers continue strike preparations

Dive Brief:

  • Members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) boycotted staff meetings at their schools on Tuesday as they prepare for a possible strike in January against the Los Angeles Unified School District, the union confirmed.
  • The union has asked for a 6.5% across-the-board raise retroactive to July 1, 2016, smaller class sizes, less testing, an expansion of the community school model, and more counselors, social workers, librarians and nurses. Negotiations have moved into a fact-finding stage because an agreement between the union and the district was not reached during a mediation phase.
  • LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner — a businessman viewed as a supporter of charters and privatization of public schools — has said that the union’s demands would bankrupt the district, while UTLA argues that the district has a surplus to spend. Beutner has agreed with union leaders that the state should increase education funding. The union has also scheduled a March for Public Education on Dec. 15 in downtown Los Angeles.

Dive Insight:

Last year’s teacher walkouts were aimed at state lawmakers, while this year, strikes seem to be shifting to the local level. In Chicago Tuesday, over 500 teachers with the Acelo Schools charter network went on strike, the first for charter schools, according to The New York Times.

Also in Illinois, teachers in the Geneva School District, west of Chicago, began a strike on Tuesday, closing schools for about 5,800 students. And in California, the Oakland Education Association, which has been without a contract for more than a year, is threatening a strike over many of the same issues dividing teachers and district leaders in Los Angeles.

Observers say a strike in L.A. would likely not occur until after the holiday break. Meanwhile, Beutner is expected to soon release his Reimagining Our Schools plan, which includes shifting authority away from the central office and organizing the district into 32 local networks.