As seen in the news in the past few years, California’s teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) have seen a number of issues involving treatment of their teachers and staff, and it has come to a head in early 2019. From a teacher shortage that has worsened throughout the decade to a wreckening pension debt, those in this education system have decided to strike for their needs as of January 14th, 2019. According to CNBC, over 30,000 have joined in the strike, following other states in the process.
The United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) is furious with these districts. A statement they made said, “…the district is hoarding 1.86 billion in reserves that could be used to fund the union’s requests, which include a 6.5 percent pay hike and smaller class sizes”. These teachers are also fed up with class sizes, as many have reported they continue to rise with no sign of stopping. The proposal from the LAUSD included a class maximum of 39, but teachers still are not impressed, with classes consistently reaching over 45 students. Ashley Hess reports: “Mike Finn, a special education teacher in Los Feliz, tells USA Today that he has 46 students in one composition class, and calls the conditions ‘unmanageable’”.
Alex Caputo-Pearl, a teacher in the Compton and Los Angeles area, also wrote of his frustration: “Class sizes often exceed 45 students in secondary schools; 35 students in upper elementary grades; and 25 students in lower elementary grades”.
The strike has made quite a bit of noise, and has received plenty of support from teachers and politicians alike. The president of American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, showed his support directly at the protest: “The eyes of the nation are watching, and educators … all over the country have the backs of the educators in L.A.”.
These issues of teacher shortages and class sizes have been around for a while, with headlining articles going back to 2016. According to the LA Times: “The staffing problem is both wide and deep, with 75% of more than 200 districts surveyed reporting difficulties with filling positions and low-income urban and rural areas hit hardest”.
The overarching worry here is how these practices affect colleges in general. With malpractice in spending and consistent lack of unity between teachers and those in higher standing, colleges in general could be at risk for lack of funding and maintaining reputation.