July 30, 2019Press Release
“Building the Power to Reclaim Our Schools” will serve as a blueprint for bringing together students, parents, teachers, and community for the common good.
LOS ANGELES — The 2019 Los Angeles teachers’ strike was nothing short of a paradigm shift in the local narrative about public education. The first “Red for Ed” strike to occur in a deeply blue state, it mobilized tens of thousands of Angelenos into rainy morning picket lines and onto the streets of Downtown LA. The strike resulted in a stunning array of substantive victories well beyond the scope of a typical labor agreement. Now, Reclaim Our Schools LA is sharing its strategy in the form of a new case study.
"The six-day strike brought the Red for Ed movement to a new level,” said Alex Caputo- Pearl, President of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). “By collaborating with community, we were able to win smaller class sizes, a nurse in every school every day, and a commitment to reduce testing by 50 percent. This case study tells the story that was actually years in the making, and it can serve as a blueprint for bringing together students, parents, teachers, and community for the common good."
Years of work went into building the historic labor/community alliance that emboldened the teachers and helped shape their bargaining platform. Bolstered by parent and student involvement, the teachers held firm on the Common Good demands that mattered most to the communities they serve. This resulted in unprecedented wins: more nurses, counselors, and librarians in schools, smaller class sizes, nearly $12 million in funding for the development of Community Schools, reductions in standardized testing, and an end to random searches of students, among others.
“I was proud to be a parent volunteer during the teacher’s strike,” said Alicia Baltazar, a parent at Fries Avenue Elementary School. “I sat-in at politicians’ offices and I knocked on their doors. I talked to other parents and let them know what we were fighting for. Some parents didn’t realize there wasn’t a nurse in school every day, or what the process was to get counseling for their children. We were strong because we had a common goal: our kids’ futures. That’s why we won. That’s why we will continue to win.”
“Building the Power to Reclaim Our Schools” examines the way UTLA and Reclaim Our Schools LA built and carried out a two-year campaign that lifted a vision of “the schools all our students deserve” into the public consciousness. It also shows how parent, student, and teacher leaders were trained and supported as they took their fight to some of LA’s most powerful political players—and won. Reclaim Our Schools LA’s strategic effort to organize parents and students and bring their ideas to the table can offer insight, vision, and hope at a time when they are much needed.
“Reclaim Our Schools LA combined deep relationship building, systematic organizing, and sophisticated strategy to produce real change at LAUSD,” said Leigh Dingerson, who authored the case study. “The voices of the parents, teachers, students, and organizers of the campaign speak for themselves. This was a culmination of years of work that transformed individual lives and brought real change to the classrooms of Los Angeles.”