April 1, 2020News
We Need to Focus on Our Students and Our Families
In this moment of profound threat and anxiety, Los Angeles educators, like the rest of LA, are grappling with a complete upheaval of our lives.
With little guidance, from the first minute of the school shutdown, educators have taken on the challenge and juggled our own family needs, supporting our own children and elders at home while also doing our absolute best to create stability for our students, create continuity of learning, and more.
UTLA and LAUSD are bargaining right now to develop more guidance for this work, and we have worked collaboratively on myriad issues since our schools were closed.
Some principals and local district personnel have been extraordinarily understanding and helpful under these circumstances over the last couple of weeks.
However, at the same time, it has been profoundly disappointing that other principals and local district personnel have created their own unfounded directives, time-wasting processes, and micro-management regimes. For educators who are working incredibly hard under unprecedented circumstances for our students, while juggling what everyone in society says is fundamentally important right now – your own family’s health – these directives and micro-management endeavors are not only completely unnecessary, but are a distraction from the basic humanity of our work and lives. It must stop now.
Use this letter with your co-workers, your administrators, in faculty meetings, etc., to draw the line. If principals and local district personnel continue their behavior, we will be forced to aggressively resist different activities. The following are areas of concern, and clarity around each one:
• Zoom. If you are using Zoom with students, your administrator does not need to be there. Encourage them to do other essential work like getting in touch with the tens of thousands of students we haven’t heard from.
• Student Contact Logs. It is reasonable to track student contacts through MiSis or other means. It is unreasonable to ask you to do duplicative work or onerous detail.
• Special Education and Itinerant Instruction. It is reasonable for our itinerants and special education teachers to keep in contact with their students and continue collaborating with their general education counterparts to continue supporting students as best you can. It is unreasonable for the district to make requirements without federal guidelines to follow.
• Lesson Plans in Event of Illness. Because we are dealing with an epidemic that will affect some of us personally, it is reasonable for you to have basic lessons ready for 1-2 weeks ahead, in the event that you or someone in your care should become ill, so that an administrator or designee can continue to provide instruction to your students during your absence. These plans should show the contractual “evidence of planning.” This can be basic. You do not need to comply with calls for unreasonable detail in your lesson plans.
• Schedule at Home. It is reasonable for you to lay out your schedule for the week, using your own discretion. It is unreasonable for an administrator to ask you to adhere to a different schedule, or to have a fixed schedule, or to adhere to a class-by-class bell schedule. You do not need to comply with a specific schedule from your administrator.
• Open Houses. Open Houses are not mandatory. It is an added unnecessary stress that takes us away with our priorities of connecting with students and families.
• Faculty Meetings. It is unreasonable for your administration to hold multiple faculty meetings per week. Faculty meetings that are held should be during normal working hours, and our current contract language is applicable until/unless an alternative is negotiated. Wear UTLA red on Tuesdays or whenever your virtual faculty meetings take place.
• PD’s and Schoology. You have until April 17 to complete the PDs. It is unreasonable for your administration to ask you to do them before then. If the district doesn’t take care of its technical problems, we will press that the April 17 deadline be extended, or we won’t do the PD’s. Schoology needs to be fixed so we don’t waste our time.
• Office Hours. It is reasonable to ask for 3 hours of office hours a week, but unreasonable to be told when those hours should be.
• Onerous Directives. Overall, if a directive from your principal seems unreasonable or takes you away from your students and family, ask your administrator to put it in writing and send to your UTLA chapter chair and UTLA area representative. We will not be complying with unreasonable directives.
We want to thank those administrators and local district personnel who are being supportive. In these unprecedented times, when our entire work lives and home lives have been upended, and when we are so needed by our students and our own families, we need to focus on humanity, connection, and grace.
We will not be pulled away from that by unreasonable directives, wastes of time, and top-down micro-management.
The UTLA Officers
ALEX CAPUTO-PEARL President
CECILY MYART-CRUZ UTLA/NEA Vice President UTLA/NEA Affiliate President
UTLA/AFT Vice President AFT Local 1021 President
GLORIA MARTINEZ Elementary Vice President
DANIEL BARNHART Secondary Vice President
ALEX OROZCO Treasurer
ARLENE INOUYE Secretary
JEFF GOOD Executive Director