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LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  

We live in an era where teachers unions are attacked and scapegoated, our schools are starved of funds, and private charter operators are allowed to choose which students they want to educate and exclude those they don’t–and use desperately needed funds from the public school system to do so.

It is said that the end of the French monarchy was portended by the fact that boys working in the king’s stables were reading the radical philosopher Voltaire. This week thousands of Los Angeles youth gave up windfall days off to show up at picketlines at 6:30 in the morning and march in the rain all day in defense of public education, teachers, and their union. Could this portend the end of the era of attacks on public education?

Nearly 100 of our students have joined our picketlines, attended the mass downtown rallies, and provided logistical support. Below are some of their views of the Los Angeles Education Revolt of 2019.

Amanda Tugonon, junior

This strike could have been avoided if the representatives of LAUSD actually listened to the union. The teachers are not striking for their own sake, but for the sake of their students.

Leila De Los Reyes, senior 

Being a part of this teacher’s strike was eye-opening. We’ve made history.

Amable Vasquez, junior

When my teachers began discussing how they were going to go on strike, I agreed with their reasons. I believe this was the right thing to do. They have waited long enough for change and it never came, so they finally said “enough is enough.”

I believe I should have the same education opportunity than everyone else, even if I’m not I’m a charter school. Many don’t believe in us, but our teachers do.

Dennis Gonzalez, senior

I’ve never been a part of something so big in my life. It’s definitely an honor and privilege to be able to march for change alongside my teachers, peers, and fellow activists.

Tina Ter-Akopyan, junior

The strike has helped me realize how much our teachers care about us and sacrifice for us in order to assure that we receive the education we deserve. The teachers’ dedication to us inspires me to work even harder in the classroom.

Stephanie Viana, senior

I thought the turnout for the opening day rally downtown would be affected due to the rain. Instead, seeing 50,000+ people and so many teachers out there fighting for us is an overwhelming feeling. They actually care. It is humbling to know that everything is for us and for what is in our best interest.

Eliver Menjivar, senior

I just think it’s astounding how students, teachers, and parents have come together for this great cause. Let’s keep the fight going and show them how strong the union is.

Laniece Morris, senior

As students of public schools we shouldn’t feel as if we are worth less than charter school students. This is one reason why students are fighting alongside our teachers for a better education and better resources. We believe that the district has been shortchanging us for many years by taking vocational classes out of our schools. Vocational education classes allow students to be successful without having to be book smart.

This strike may not specifically impact my education, but it will impact our future youth. Our government puts so much money into our prison system but what about our education?

Daniel Mora, senior

The district would rather pay to have us babysat by administrators and substitutes than pay for my education. They think it’s a game, but education is crucial.

Oscar Letona, senior

After protesting in front of Monroe High school, seven other students and I took our picket signs and headed to IHOP to eat breakfast. As we were seated and received our meals, we were approached by a waitress. We were astonished as the waitress notified us that our bill of $151.37 had been paid for.

Quickly we raced to thank the charitable person who made our morning amazing. That person was Katie Coyle, an LAUSD parent who believes in our protests.

When we asked her why she helped us, Katie Coyle stated, “I believe in your cause and believe you students are doing what’s right.” She explained how she had children and said, “This is worth it to help the future of this community.”

 

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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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