April 3, 2020News
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Thursday, April 2
To LA's amazing education community
Three weeks ago, with very little notice, we locked our classroom and office doors and became part of the largest experiment in distance learning this country has ever seen.
We are all learning how to do our work in new ways — and how to do that work at home, with competing demands and under the shadow of a frightening global pandemic. LA educators are doing incredible work with students, but it's been overwhelming and exhausting.
To make matters worse, some administrators and local districts have issued unrealistic, top-down measures that would only take time away from what matters most right now: working with our students and taking care of our families. The letter we sent yesterday (click here) has clear guidelines on what requests are unreasonable, and we encourage you to use this letter with your co-workers, your administrators, in faculty meetings, and so on to draw the line.
We hope you can take time during Spring Break to rest and recharge. Stay safe and healthy, and take care of yourself and loved ones. We’re so proud to be in this work with you.
—The UTLA Officers
Alex Caputo-Pearl, Cecily Myart-Cruz, Juan Ramirez, Gloria Martinez, Daniel Barnhart, Alex Orozco, and Arlene Inouye
LINK: UTLA Letter on Unreasonable Directives
Alex Caputo-Pearl gives his weekly update and addresses concerns about unreasonable work expectations being pushed by principals and #LAUSD admins.
School year: Governor Newsom and State Superintendent Tony Thurmond both announced this week that schools will be closed for the rest of the academic year. This has not been publicly confirmed by LAUSD.
Early Childhood educators and PD: As we posted on Monday, the district has clarified that educators at Early Education Centers are required to complete the four two-hour professional development sessions outlined in the @Home Continuity of Learning memo. LAUSD says that the PD will be geared toward EEC teachers using the California Early Child Online training provided through the CDE. Read more here.
Grading: The grading window has been pushed back to April 14. The state has said that students should be held harmless — in other words, they can’t get a lower grade than they had before the closure.
HHS staff & home visits: No Health and Human Services professionals are being required to do home visits. We expect to get more clarity soon from the district on assignments. We know there are a lot of unanswered questions for our HHS members, and we're working on a specialized FAQ.
PE minutes for elementary schools: Elementary teachers received an automatic reminder this week to submit verification of teaching the state-required PE minutes. Our state affiliates, the CTA and CFT, are working on getting a waiver for this requirement, which we expect will happen. Even if PE is built into a distance learning lesson plan, it is very difficult to certify that the PE has taken place.
Probationary teachers: Prob 2 educators who were not non-reelected by March 15 for next school year will automatically become permanent on the first workday of the 2020-2021 school year. Prob 1 educators who were not non-reelected by March 15 for next school year will automatically become Prob 2 on the first workday of the 2020-2021 school year.
Special education: We are tracking what guidelines come from the federal government on IEPs. We know the lack of clarity has been stressful for our special education teachers and families.
Special Ed memo to RSTs: We've heard from many Resource Specialist Teachers about the tedious and time-consuming requests in the new memo from the LAUSD Special Education Division about documenting distance service sessions. We have reached out to the district and will push back on these unnecessary changes.
Substitutes not receiving correct pay: We have heard from some substitutes that LAUSD is not paying the correct rate for long-term assignments and is not honoring assignments that were in SmartFind before the school closures. LAUSD payroll has acknowledged the errors and will adjust pay accordingly. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
Substitutes and PD: Substitute educators are required to complete the four LAUSD PD sessions outlined in the @Home Continuity of Learning memo. Our understanding at this time is that Early Education Center substitutes are encouraged but not required to take the PD. Substitutes without access to Schoology can go to My PLN at https://achieve.lausd.net/mypln#spn-content and go to TRANSCRIPTS
We met for a second session with LAUSD today to bargain the impacts of the school closures. With the onslaught of negative directives from rogue administrators and local districts, there is an urgency to reach an agreement on distance learning parameters. Our priority is to define distance learning in a way that ensures maximum flexibility, reflects the unprecedented crisis we are in, respects pedagogical discretion, does not create a one-size-fits-all model, and doesn’t waste educators' time when we need time with students and our families.
We have concerns about some elements in the district’s counterproposal presented today, including an overemphasis on live video and requiring teachers to adhere to a “regular weekly instructional schedule.” As we did with the first bargaining session last week, we went into detail at the table about the challenges members are facing in your simultaneous home roles as educators, parents, and caregivers. No agreement was reached today. The next session is Monday.
The district did not have counterproposals on a number of issues, including evaluations, special education, and health and human services staff. HHS and special education teachers are essentially flying blind right now, in the absence of clear direction from LAUSD. We are pressing the district for clarity.
LINKS: UTLA’s proposal from 3/27
LAUSD’s counter proposals from 4/2
Answering the call: HHS members staff new mental health hotline
A shout-out to our counselors and mental health professionals who are staffing LAUSD's new mental health hotline to help students and families coping with the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Share this resource with students and families in need: The hotline number is 213-241-3840 and is staffed weekdays from 6 am to 6 pm starting today. Hotline operators are available to speak to people in both English and Spanish.
Co-location offers "not guaranteed" for 2020-21
Last week, in light of serious health and safety concerns triggered by the COVID-19 crisis, UTLA issued a letter demanding that LAUSD halt all new proposed charter co-locations for the 2020-21 school year and institute a moratorium on the approval of any new charter schools. This week, we have scored an initial victory on this issue. LAUSD has sent the offers of co-location space to charter operators, but for the first time, the offers make reference to a possible “interruption in the process” and that space is not guaranteed.
Given the complexity of new public health standards to be implemented and how quickly schools will have to adjust once they reopen, there is simply not enough time for any new co-location or new charter approvals to be established in a healthy and safe way.
SHEROES AND HEROES AT HOME
“I’m giving my students advice about creating a routine so they can balance their reality and their academic responsibilities. I also assigned my students a typing challenge to keep them focused on learning a new skill during the school closures. The next challenge I’ll be posting is a water and fitness challenge. We have to be flexible and real with our students. I believe they’ll appreciate that.”
—Carmen Padilla, Easy Valley High School
Post a video or photo of how you are bringing your classroom to life at home. Use hashtags #SheroesAtHome #HeroesAtHome and #ThisIsMySuperPower.
ACTION FOR THE COMMON GOOD
Please share this fundraiser info with family and friends who may be in the position to give in these tough times.
TODAY: LAUSD fundraiser for students most in need
LAUSD is holding a fundraiser today with CBS2, KCAL9, I Heart Radio and the LA Chargers to raise money for students. Donate here or click image below.
Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles
Help support families, healthcare workers, unhoused neighbors, and more, or contribute direct financial assistance to families facing extreme financial hardship. Donate here or click image below.
LA County Fed forming volunteer corps
The LA County Fed is working with our affiliate unions, nonprofits, and the City of Los Angeles to support our most vulnerable residents. To support that work, they are forming an LA Labor COVID-19 Volunteer Corps. Members of the volunteer corps will join different efforts across the county, ranging from food distribution to building structures. If interested, fill out the form here: http://bit.ly/lalaborvolunteer. Questions can go to Claudia Magana at Claudia@thelafed.org.