April 23, 2021President's Perspective
Good afternoon, Los Angeles,
As always a big shout-out to all educators out there, parents, grandparents, guardians, and students. So happy to have you with us in this virtual space.
Today we’ll be talking about the reopening of all elementary schools, the resignation of Austin Beutner, the extended school year calendar member survey, and an update on childcare. I will end with some thoughts on the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin and what that means for the movement for racial justice.
We must prioritize health, safety and flexibility. All elementary schools reopened this week and we are hearing that schools are mostly doing a good job at resolving issues at chapter level. Stay vigilant and as always there is protocol to take it to the next level if needed to hold the district accountable to our health and safety standards.
Let’s continue to have each other’s backs and stand together for all the complications, hurdles, and joys that will come with returning to our classrooms and workspaces. It was great to hear from excited parents and educators as they returned to school this week.
- Michelle Baldonado, an elementary school parent and also a teacher at Dodson Middle school, says: “Y’all it finally happened. 3 First Days of School 🍎 I have been dreaming of this day. It definitely hits different as a teacher-mom. If I didn’t have to jump on Zoom to teach, better believe that would have been champagne 🍾 Cheers!!
- Jenevieve Moon, a teacher and parent, brought her daughter to preschool, says: “she was SO excited, she could barely contain herself. Bonus: no tears from anyone!”
- Jose Cornejo, a parent at Porter Ranch Community School says: “Long line but moved quickly and efficiently. Well done Porter Ranch Community School team. First day in a 4th grade classroom. Alexis was excited to go back to campus.”
- Shout out to Micheltorena Elementary: We echo your enthusiasm in welcoming third grade Spanish teacher Ms. Jacqueline Cuevas to campus! The school said: “This was her first day with our students in person and we feel so lucky to have her!”
I look forward to hearing more stories from educators and parents as middle schools return to in-person instruction next week.
Statement on LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner’s resignation
In a surprise move, yesterday Austin Beutner gave his resignation as Superintendent, effective June 30, when his contract expires. The LAUSD School Board accepted it. It’s time to have a steady hand at the helm of LAUSD, which has had five superintendents over the last decade, with three of those years being filled by John Deasy, a privatizer with a history of fraud, waste and abuse--who pursued an anti-public school agenda. As we emerge from a year that has challenged educators, students, and parents, our schools cannot afford another privatizer who seeks to dismantle public education instead of uplift it.
In a letter to the school board, Beutner said he wishes to allow the new superintendent to welcome students in the Fall of 2021.
We hope the national search will end in a pool of candidates who will be pro neighborhood public schools and can be publicly vetted by a panel of educators, parents, and community members.
This global pandemic has laid bare the deep inequities of our society and amplified the essential role public schools play in our communities. We must call for a superintendent who is committed to a robust and fully resourced public school system that serves all our communities equitably.
Survey on Extending the 2021-22 School Year
Today is the last day to complete the member survey!
The deadline is 5 PM. Please complete the survey if you haven’t already!
Los Angeles Unified has announced its intention to extend the 2021-22 work year for UTLA members by ten days at full pay. The days would be used to provide a combination of more instruction for students and more professional development for educators.
Any extension of the work year will have to be bargained with UTLA, and we need input from all members to shape our response.
Today is the last day of the online survey on the extension. The deadline to complete the survey is 5 pm, and results will be announced in next week’s Chapter Talking Points.
Members will have the opportunity to vote on any agreement that is reached with the district to extend the 2021-22 work year.
If you did not receive the survey and you’ve checked your spam or junk folder, go to bit.ly/workyearsurvey [bit dot ly forward slash workyearsurvey] and please complete the survey by Today at 5 pm.
Childcare is one of the biggest issues concerning working families in our district and for our students parents and beyond. This is a global issue and a part will be a part of the Bargaining for the Common Good. It should go without saying it is a right and not just for some of us but for all of us.
I want you all to know that we see you and we will continue to work diligently in the short and term on your behalf.
I want to recognize the efforts of members from Harbor, South and Valley West leaders for creating a petition that has gotten over 2,250 signatures and turned advocacy into action. I want to thank all the mamas/parents who have been meeting to come together as educator parents to share their stories, their frustrations and how we move forward in providing sustainable solutions for our communities.
This issue impacts every single school across our district and I feel deeply impacted by the implications it brings as we return to school sites or offices. LA County Department of Public Health guidelines for reopening schools explicitly state that, "Work processes are reconfigured to the extent consistent with academic requirements and student needs to increase opportunities for employees to work from home." We know that while we strive for flexibility we must also amplify the message with LAUSD because every local district, and or administration at school sites is doing something different on this issue.
UTLA continues to be in conversation with Beutner, the district bargaining team, and various school board members on this issue. We will continue to press on childcare issues.
To this end, UTLA will be hosting a childcare concern zoom forum the first week in May. If you are a parent educator and want to be invited to the forum, please use a non LAUSD email and reach out to my Executive Assistant, Evy Vaughn at email@example.com using the subject line Childcare forum.
I want to thank you for your patience and advocacy. I look forward to meeting with you all.
Chapter chair elections info
I want to give a shout-out to our amazing Chapter leaders — chapter chairs, co-chairs, vice chairs. Y’all are doing the work, day in and day out, and are keeping schools safe and keeping colleagues connected. Thank you.
I want to share another reminder for chapter elections. This month is when UTLA members choose chapter leaders for next school year. This is so important. We need every site to have a chapter leader. All the details are on utla.net and are being emailed to members.
Chapter leaders have been tested this year like no other. You do this work because you are called to it, because the work is essential, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. I see you, we see you.
With the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin, America broke the tragic cycle of not holding police officers accountable for their actions, especially those that end in the murder of Black and Brown citizens.
We know that one verdict does not go far enough. It does not dismantle centuries of entrenched discrimination and that is why we must continue to push the line on.
Black lives are still at risk. Without lasting systematic change, the outcome of one court case brings some accountability for one police officer, but does not bring lasting justice for all Black lives.
Tonight, I want to be clear. Black lives do matter.
And as a mother, educator and member of the beloved education community, I want the world to know that our black babies are loved, cared for and deserve to live full abundant lives, without fear.
- And now I say her name: Ma’Khia Bryant. Ma’Kia was a 16-year old girl from Columbus, Ohio with a bright smile and a full future. Sadly, she was fatally shot on Tuesday afternoon, just moments before Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd.
- And now I say his name: Daunte Wright. He was a brother, a son, a student, a friend and father. And sadly, another Black man killed at the hands of the police. His funeral was yesterday.
This pain is real. The pain of our community is real. And this must end. Today, my soul is heavy, but my body is strong for the fight forward. Together, we can work to pass the George Floyd Police Act and finally begin to hold American policing accountable for the fear, anxiety and tears that have come from black mothers throughout America.
We, as residents of Los Angeles, should continue to uplift our sister Rep. Karen Bass--who continues to fight the good fight for passage of this meaningful legislation.
We live in a society where a black child is six times more likely to be shot by police. So, we demand justice and change.
For our well-being, we must create spaces outside the trauma, we must uplift Black Joy and Black Life and Black Boys and Girls.
It is time to end the cycle of violence toward Black lives and create a system of justice for all, not just a chosen few.
We as Parents, educators, and students, must continue to work together, and fight forward for better days. We have much work to do.
This was a hard week for so many, and for me personally, one of the hardest weeks of the pandemic. As I once again, had to process this week with my child. It’s exhausting and I must admit I too struggle because it’s real and heavy.
Many of you will continue to prepare and keep your classrooms and workspaces healthy and safe. Thank you for your support of your colleagues, your students and their families. It is my hope you can still find time for rest and reflection this weekend.
Stay UTLA strong, because together, we rise.