Over 30,000 Los Angeles teachers in over 300 schools are set to strike on Monday in a move that will impact about a half million students in the nation’s second-largest school district.
According to HuffPost, the drastic move comes after 20 months of failed negotiations within the “red state teacher revolt”. The conservative-led strike has already rolled out through places like Arizona, Kansas and West Virginia last spring. But this time, the Los Angeles teachers striking are fighting against Democratic leaders within the deep blue state with union-friendly policies.
The massive strike includes a union side, the United Teachers Los Angeles who are fighting for pay raises, smaller class sizes and additional support staff. On the opposing side is the Los Angeles Unified School District, who argues that there aren’t enough funds for the sudden changes.
The strike was near after the union rejected the district’s offer on Friday that included pay raises, smaller class sizes and increased support staff, but did not meet all the union’s specific requests, HuffPost reports.
What happens with this teachers strike could set the stage for how these issues play out in the 2020 election and beyond.
“This conflict is forcing the issue of school privatization and charter schools in the Democratic Party,” said Lois Weiner, an independent researcher and consultant who has studied teachers unions.
Los Angeles teacher Gillian Claycomb argues that even though the superintendent of schools, Austin Beutner, is a Democrat, his approach to education makes him “just as bad as [Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos and [President] Donald Trump.”
“He is a billionaire. He spends a lot of time with other billionaires and people with very deep pockets who are really invested in privatizing public education,” said Claycomb, a high school history teacher and a chapter leader with the local teachers union.
Los Angeles teachers have been complaining about class sizes of up to more than 40 students, “wraparound” services for needy students that aren’t working and a severe shortage of school nurses. Many elementary schools in the city have only one nurse for one day a week, Huff Post reports.
The massive strike at the start of the New Year shows signs of what might be focused on during the 2020 election.
“Trump has been defeated in California. There is no Trump constituency. They were defeated, but that doesn’t mean everything is hunky-dory. We have other battles,” said labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein, a professor at the University of California Santa Barbara.
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