This Historic Moment

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A Note from the UTLA Officers

Dear UTLA Member:

As your officer team, we wanted to connect with you in this historic moment.  
 
As we prepare to strike together on Monday, we wanted to share how profoundly moved we are to be with you. We are about to do something together that will improve schools for hundreds of thousands of students, improve our pay and working conditions, protect our healthcare, and support the very sustainability of the school district.  
 
There will be some sacrifices. We will share those with you. We will be tired, as you will be tired. As you will miss your students in your classrooms, we will miss being at school sites and supporting your work with students. As many of you will, we will navigate having our own children with us during the day. We, as officers, of course will not be paid — just as you will not be paid — during the days of the strike. 

The sacrifices that all of us will make collectively will be worth it. Now is the moment for action.  
 
For years, our schools have been neglected. Now is the moment for action.  
 
For months, we have built power and now we control the narrative. Now is the moment for action.  
 
We have a non-educator investment banker as superintendent who is starving our schools and accelerating privatization. Now is the moment for action to push back on this threat.
 
We have district, city, and state leaders often acknowledge how important public education and school funding are. Now is the moment for action to ensure the acknowledgements become reality at schools.
 
There has been no more urgent moment to use our power to push back on the threats — and no better moment to use our power to win real improvements. 
 
As your officers, we commit to be with you in every way, at every step, as we strike together — continuing with constant communication, reflection, listening, action, and solidarity.
 
We’ll end where we began, with how moved we are to be in this moment with you. From watching parents from Micheltorena Elementary on the news supporting us to watching parents in Woodland Hills supporting us; from seeing the donations of food for our students flow in, to seeing donations of ponchos and free lamination of picket signs come in; from today having thousands of parents on a tele-town-hall getting advice and being 96% in support to today being at the Martin Luther King breakfast of the County Federation of Labor and having unions across the city commit to be on picket lines on Monday; we are just profoundly moved by your work, your commitment, the work of parents and community, and the vitality of this movement we’ve created together. We are going to win. We are going to make history.
 
For more of the latest details, please see the two all-member UTLA emails from yesterday, Friday, and please rigorously follow social media, www.utla.net, and www.wearepublicschools.org.
 
We will see you Monday at 7 a.m. on the picket lines and Monday at 10:30 am at Grand Park for that stunning aerial camera shot that we need of all of us together, immersed in the power of educators and our supporters. And we'll see you every day of the strike after that — for daily morning pickets at your sites and then larger collective actions — until we deliver the win for our students and our future.

 
In unity and solidarity,
 
Alex Caputo-Pearl
UTLA President

Cecily Myart-Cruz
UTLA/NEA Vice President

Juan Ramirez
UTLA/AFT Vice President

Gloria Martinez
UTLA Elementary Vice President

Daniel Barnhart
UTLA Secondary Vice President

Alex Orozco
UTLA Treasurer

Arlene Inouye
UTLA Secretary

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Parents & Educators: We are in this Fight Together 

Facts to push back on Beutner's disinformation 

This is a powerful moment in our fight for our students. LAUSD’s approach to negotiations has made it clear that we don’t have a partner when it comes to lowering class size; bringing more nurses, counselors, librarians, and psychologists to work with students; and other improvements. 
             
To deflect from his failure to do the right thing, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner and many school board members are trying to sow uncertainty and fear. Here’s the truth behind their PR.
 
Beutner’s message: UTLA should take LAUSD’s latest offer because it lowers class sizes and brings more staff to schools
There are many failures in LAUSD’s latest offer, but the spin on these two issues is especially misleading. The increase in staffing is as low as you can go — roughly 1 person per school — and comes with a huge caveat: It’s for one year only. The offer actually proposes raising class sizes permanently, as high as 39 in elementary and 46 in secondary. Below is the section from LAUSD’s own document that shows the proposed class-size increases.
 

ClassSizeChart

  Magnet class sizes also would increase — see LAUSD’s full proposals here
 
Beutner's message: UTLA should be looking for money in Sacramento, not in LAUSD.

It is true that California’s shamefully low per-pupil spending must be addressed for the long-term health of our schools. In the state with the fifth-largest economy in the world, it is indefensible that California ranks 43rd out of 50 states. That said, LAUSD has the highest reserve in its history — nearly $2 billion — and now an additional $140 million coming from the state. UTLA is working at both levels — unlocking LAUSD’s reserve and pressuring Sacramento to increase funding.
 
Beutner’s  message: Schools will be open for business as usual during the strike
We know differently — that not much learning if any will happen in our schools. At many sites students will be herded into auditoriums or other large spaces and shown movies or engaged in busy-work. 
 
Beutner’s message: The district may go after students for truancy if a student misses school during a strike 
Whether or not parents/guardians want their children to report for school during a strike is solely the choice of the parent/guardian. Whether the district levels penalties is the choice of the district. LAUSD is not required to impose penalties. All of us together — tens of thousands of parents and educators — will ensure that there are no penalties. One of our parents contacted the California Department of Education and received this response she then posted on Facebook; here’s a link to California Education Code Section 48260 referenced.

Beutner’s message: The strike will hurt students
A strike is not an easy step to take but the far greater damage to our students is letting their learning conditions go unchallenged for decades. This is our chance to turn things around and reinvest in our schools. We also strongly believe that students will learn a powerful lesson by watching their teachers take a principled stand and fight for what they know is right.
 
Beutner’s message: The school district has a deficit and can’t afford to improve student learning conditions.
Beutner continues to claim that LAUSD is in a financial crisis and has had a running deficit for many years. The chart below shows that is false: The district has had surpluses every year ranging from $210 million to $517 million since 2013-14.  

chart

Beutner’s message: LAUSD’s finances are so bad that the county is sending in a fiscal team.
The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) is sending a “team” because Beutner asked them to, to bolster his lie that the district can’t afford to improve students’ learning conditions. It is a political ploy. There are serious questions about LACOE’s independence and motivations, given that LACOE’s most recent speech claiming LAUSD was going broke was authored by an LAUSD employee on an LAUSD computer. 

Why is it so important for Beutner to convince people that LAUSD has a fiscal crisis? Beutner, who was hired with support of the pro-privatization crowd, is trying to force an austerity agenda on our schools. That agenda: Raise class size even more, decimate programs and services — and then label schools as failing to justify closing them or handing them over the private operators. 

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WE ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS FAQs 

For the FAQs, and six ways parents can support our fight: wearepublicschools.org/faq