July 21, 2020News
Since last week, there have been false media reports, fueled by right-wing propagandists, claiming that Los Angeles educators are refusing to return to work until we abolish the police and charter schools. This is incorrect and damaging, and we want to correct the record.
We are foremost fighting for the health and safety of our school communities. It was the right decision to keep our school campuses closed when the school year starts on August 18 — this action alone will save lives and protect hundreds of thousands of educators, students, and families in the LAUSD community from unsafe exposure to the coronavirus.
Now we are in bargaining with LAUSD on two critical priorities: the necessary conditions for school sites to reopen and improving crisis distance learning so it works better for everyone — educators, parents and students — and especially for our most vulnerable students. We will keep fighting in bargaining for the appropriate safety conditions that must be in place before a physical return — and we will keep fighting in the streets, City Hall, Sacramento, and Washington, DC, for public needs that are essential for the district to achieve those safety conditions.
Funding is a critical part of reaching these goals. In our research paper, UTLA identified 12 potential policies that would increase resources to make the safe reopening of schools possible. Defunding police to redirect money to education and public health and a moratorium on allocating school classrooms to charter companies so that public schools have space for safe physical distancing are just two of those policies.
Science makes it clear that restarting schools will require greater federal and state resources for our schools to support broad community preparedness and economic relief, said UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz.
“The astronomical amount of money that billionaires, charter school chains, and corporations have received during this crisis in comparison to the support given to healthcare and low-income communities is unconscionable and contributes to the skyrocketing infection rates,” Myart-Cruz says. “During the uprisings we have seen police in militarized gear while hospital workers beg for life-saving personal protective gear. The money is there for safer communities, but it is going to the wrong places. We cannot open school buildings during this crisis without the adequate support that our educators, students and communities we serve need.”
We can’t wait to be back in person with our students, but in order to do that, we must continue to take bold action together to build well-funded schools with the necessary conditions to protect everyone’s health, with robust student supports and resources for hard-hit communities so they can survive this crisis.