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Justine Gonzalez with daughter Photo courtesy Justine Gonzalez

wrote in an op-ed for the Los Angeles Blade. A 2017 internal audit of LAUSD’s anti-bullying initiatives and efforts,” Gonzalez wrote, “found that most schools did not record any bullying incidents as required by District policy, maintain or use Bullying Complaint Logs, or provide high quality training on bullying prevention to teachers and staff on an annual basis. It also found that the number of staff that oversee the District’s anti-bullying initiatives and efforts were notably low.” The last LAUSD walkout in 1989 lasted nine days. Approximately 32,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) including school nurses, counselors and librarians are asking for better pay, smaller classes, fewer standardized tests, greater charter school regulation and oversight plus adding more counselors, librarians and nurses. “Here we are on a rainy day in the richest country in the world, in the richest state in the country, in a state as blue as it can be, and in a city rife with millionaires, where teachers have to go on strike to get the basics for our students,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl told a crowd gathered in the pouring rain Jan. 14 at John Marshall

High School in the Los Feliz district. “Here we are in a fight for the soul of public education,” Caputo-Pearl added while calling for the district to reinvest from its $1.86 billion in reserves and the millions in new money promised by the state. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten joined CaputoPearl and UTLA membership at the rally and in a press release January 13, the openly lesbian head of the ATF noted: “L.A.’s teachers need two and three jobs to afford rent, and they’re teaching in classrooms with 40 or 50 students, in schools without counselors, librarians or nurses.” LAUSD Superintendent Beutner has said a neutral fact finder found that if the district met all of the teachers’ demands, LAUSD would be bankrupt in two to three years, according to KTLA. “We remain committed to resolve the contract negotiations as soon as possible,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said at a Monday news conference, which he has since repeated. “We urge them to resume bargaining with us anytime, anywhere, 24-7. We’d like to resolve this.” UTLA sources told the Los Angeles Blade

that much of the failure to negotiate a new contract and meet at least half way on other union demands is Beutner’s unwillingness to hear out the union’s concerns. “He has his own agenda which is not in touch with the daily classroom realities that teachers’ face. Not mentioning the host of social and other outside family issues that can affect students. Basics such as even having enough to eat—even the diversity within the minority groups within the school system,” the source said. Weingarten also castigated Beutner and the LAUSD’s claims. “The district is crying poverty, but this is about choices: Do we deny public schools the resources they need, then push a privatization and charter agenda to solve it? Or do we strive to make every public school a place where teachers want to teach, students want to learn and parents want to send their kids?,” she said. “Austin Beutner isn’t fooling anyone. We’ve seen this slashand-burn agenda play out before, and as the people in the classroom every day, we know: Scarcity is not a strategy that actually helps kids learn. L.A.’s teachers are willing to strike until they get the resources they need

to do their jobs effectively.” Beutner, a former Los Angeles deputy mayor and an investment banker, has only been on the job less than one year and has no prior experience in education. Union organizers claim that the superintendent is trying to privatize the district, encouraging school closures and flipping public schools into charter schools union officials argue. (Charters are privately operated public schools that compete with the public school system for students and the funds they bring in.) “Beutner claims his plan to reorganize the district would improve services to students and families,” a UTLA source said. “How can it when needed funding is pulled from already struggling schools in the LAUSD and dumped into charter schools which frankly have a dubious track record?” “Our students need all of us to prioritize and invest more in education, from the City of Los Angeles, to the County Board of Supervisors, to our newly elected California State Legislature and Governor,” Gonzalez wrote. “The truth is that we all have skin in the game.” – Karen Ocamb contributed to this report.

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