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LA Teachers Strike: Black Smoke Pouring Out of LAUSD Headquarters

LAUSD headquarters at Beaudry are ablaze from attacks on all sides:

+ The head of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, which represents the LAUSD school administrators, sent a letter to Beutner and his schoolboard ally Nick Melvoin saying AALA demands a district strategy to “immediately end the strike.”

+ LAUSD school board member Scott Schmerelson said he “can no longer allow Mr. Beutner to speak for me,” and ripped into Beutner’s “misinformation campaign,” saying that resources are available to meet teachers’ demands.

+ LAUSD continues to take heavy daily financial losses due to a de facto parent/student boycott of LAUSD schools.

+ The first four days of United Teachers of Los Angeles’ strike against LAUSD’s austerity regime have gone very well: UTLA picketlines are solid, and scabs are rare.

LAUSD Principals in Revolt Against Beutner 

A devastating letter from ALLA President Juan A. Flecha shows a school district in disarray as school administrators blame Beutner for the destructive chaos of the strike he provoked. In the letter, sent to Beutner, Melvoin, and others and then leaked, Flecha quotes what he is hearing from school principals and administrators. Quotes include:

“The District’s unwillingness to participate and be transparent in negotiations is beyond deplorable…The District’s lack of transparency and unethical behavior trickles down to us as front-line managers, and as the face of the District.”

“The messages we are required to send are inaccurate and untruthful.”

“Principals are being asked to send “soft and benevolent” messages about the school day. [LAUSD] Central office follows-up by sending parents threatening messages immediately following ours.”

“Principals are being asked to do the job business as usual.  It is not! …We are being asked to send out messages saying everything is alright.  It’s not alright. I want my teachers back!!”
·       “The messages to family regarding attendance and truancy are inconsistent, punitive, and constantly changing. Principals are expected to send Connect-Ed messages that reinforce attendance and families are feeling alienated. The messages swing wildly from students will be truant (which implies a serious consequence) to “We will not be sending home attendance messages, and this will not impact transcripts or graduation.”

“Connect-Ed messages contain inaccurate information regarding the actual level of instruction that is happening at schools.”

“Is the District even interested in resolving the strike?  Perhaps more energy needs to be placed on strategizing how to immediately end the strike rather than the endless and unhelpful press conferences.”

“Can anyone tell us the timeline as to when the strike will end?”

“Valley principals were told NOT to bring doughnuts or be nice/cordial to teachers.”

“It is a farce to tell the public kids are learning!  The Superintendent needs to share how many students have logged into Edgenuity.  This alone will show it is not business as usual.”

LAUSD Board Member Schmerelson Breaks Silence, Blasts Beutner’s ‘Misinformation’

LAUSD Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson broke his silence Wednesday, releasing a statement called “Where Do I Stand?” Schmerelson said:

The repeated message to Board Members, over the last several months, was that the only way to avoid a strike was for the Board to speak with one voice. I have struggled with this concept because it is clear to everyone, who is paying attention, that the one voice that the Board majority supports is that of Austin Beutner…

I can no longer allow Mr. Beutner to speak for me or to suggest that the massive public relations, and often misinformation, campaign that he is waging represents my views about the current teachers strike. We need to end the strike…

My constituents, and parents throughout the District, are demanding to know just where I stand. I will tell you: As a retired LAUSD teacher, counselor, and principal, I dedicated my life and career serving LAUSD kids. I continue to stand with the kids. For me, this means that I Stand with Teachers because today they are standing for what’s best for students.

I also believe that too many of our classrooms are too crowded to truly serve our students…We need to find a way to significantly lower class size, not based on misleading district averages, but at every school site where there are just too many students in one room for the effective teaching and personalization to which we lend so much lip service…

Instead of repeating the “doom, gloom and heading for bankruptcy” predictions that we have heard for decades, I believe that it is Mr. Beutner’s job to honestly identify sources of funding buried in our existing budget, and the revenue growth predicted for next year, that could be creatively sourced and invested in the students who need smaller classes and adequate support services now.

LAUSD has a nearly $2 billion reserve. Of course, we have financial commitments and need to plan for rainy days. Nevertheless, I believe that Mr. Beutner could at least temporarily repurpose a larger share of this reserve, for the benefit of kids…

The Parent/Student Boycott of LAUSD, Students Being ‘Warehoused’

LAUSD has taken over $100 million in revenue losses in the first four days of the strike, since the district is paid for each student who attends and few are attending. At my high school, for example, attendance Thursday was down to 128 students–a mere 6% of the total student body. As in several previous days, we had almost half as many students on our picketline as were in school.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

With teachers on strike, LAUSD schools turn into movie theaters — and parents aren’t thrilled…Ordinarily, hardworking students might welcome a movie break. But warehoused in large, noisy rooms with few staff to supervise them, quite a few students said they’d rather stay home.

“We won’t be sending her back to school during the strike, because it’s detrimental to her education,” said Joe Utsler of Valley Village, “…It’s a poorly managed babysitting service right now.”

The article ends with a list of movies “playing now at an L.A. Unified School near you.”

Solid Picketlines

Picketlines are solid throughout the district, with most schools having zero or one scab. My high school is typical, we’ve had one scab out of 107 UTLA members.

 

More articles by:

Glenn Sacks is an LAUSD social studies teacher and UTLA co-chair at his high school.  He was recently recognized by LAUSD Deputy Superintendent Vivian Ekchian for “exceptional levels of performance.  

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