UPDATE: Dec. 10, 2018: On Friday, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) against United Teachers Los Angeles for organizing teachers to boycott faculty meetings at their schools. “The purpose of school faculty meetings is to help students,” said a statement from LAUSD General Counsel David Holmquist. “This boycott was not only unlawful, it was also in violation of a prior PERB order directly ordering UTLA not to engage in the precise boycott of faculty meetings that UTLA has incited.”
- Members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) boycotted staff meetings at their schools on Tuesday as they prepare for a possible strike in January against the Los Angeles Unified School District, the union confirmed.
- The union has asked for a 6.5% across-the-board raise retroactive to July 1, 2016, smaller class sizes, less testing, an expansion of the community school model, and more counselors, social workers, librarians and nurses. Negotiations have moved into a fact-finding stage because an agreement between the union and the district was not reached during a mediation phase.
- LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner — a businessman and civic leader viewed by the union as a supporter of charters and privatization of public schools — has said that the union’s demands would bankrupt the district, while UTLA argues that the district has a surplus to spend. Beutner has agreed with union leaders that the state should increase education funding. The union has also scheduled a March for Public Education on Dec. 15 in downtown Los Angeles.
Last year’s teacher walkouts were aimed at state lawmakers, while this year, strikes seem to be shifting to the local level. In Chicago Tuesday, over 500 teachers with the Acelo Schools charter network went on strike, the first for charter schools, according to The New York Times.
Also in Illinois, teachers in the Geneva School District, west of Chicago, began a strike on Tuesday, closing schools for about 5,800 students. And in California, the Oakland Education Association, which has been without a contract for more than a year, is threatening a strike over many of the same issues dividing teachers and district leaders in Los Angeles.
Observers say a strike in L.A. would likely not occur until after the holiday break. Meanwhile, Beutner is expected to soon release his Reimagining Our Schools plan, which includes shifting authority away from the central office and organizing the district into 32 local networks. In a statement, a spokeswoman for LAUSD said Beutner “values and understands the power of public education” and wants many of the same things as the union, but that the two sides cannot agree on how to pay for them. Meanwhile, both state and county officials have urged the district to cut spending.