June 10, 2020News
A coalition of 12 of the largest teachers’ locals in the state — including UTLA — are warning state officials that reopening without the necessary funds will be unsafe and will deepen profound racial and class inequalities.
In a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and Superintendent Tony Thurmond, the California Alliance for Community Schools (CACS) said that the pandemic crisis, economic devastation, and racial oppression requires additional investment in schools and social services, not less as contained in the current proposed budget cuts. Racial and class inequalities are reflected in the disproportionate health and economic impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color, and have long characterized California’s schools as per-pupil spending has hovered between 38th and 45th among the 50 states.
The letter goes on to make the following demands:
- Protection against ADA losses or inconsistencies – In view of possible COVID-19 attendance restrictions, it is incumbent on state leaders to radically rethink the way school funding is structured.
- Prevent charter schools from opening before the district schools surrounding the charter open – Charter schools operate with far fewer regulations than traditional public schools and the “school competition” model they promote will endanger the health of the entire community.
- Pause any permanent school closures approved prior to COVID 19 – Schools must provide appropriate space for social distancing and it is critical that all facilities be utilized to ensure staff and student safety.
- Drop school budget cuts proposal – To reopen safely, schools must have more funding, resources, and staffing, and must be dramatically improved.
- Stop Prop 39 charter colocations – District schools need to be able to use their whole campuses for social distancing and services.
- Support Schools and Communities First and look for additional sources of revenue from the rich and corporations – Adequate funding is vital not only for schools, but to expand the many social services that our students and their families depend on.
- Include educators in any decisions – Front line staff such as teachers, counselors, school nurses, social workers, and aides must be included in any dialogue around reopening, as they offer critical perspective on the health risks, logistical challenges, and creative learning opportunities reopening could bring.
UTLA is a founding member of CACS, which together represents tens of thousands of frontline education staff serving hundreds of thousands of students and their families.
Read the full letter here.