Teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) continue to strike this week amidst increasing class sizes and insufficient support for low-income students across the city. Demonstrators cite a lack of school nurses, librarians, and counselors, as well as class sizes ballooning above 50 students and special needs students being neglected as their reasons for striking.
In a show of solidarity, some members of the Service Employees International Union who work in the LAUSD have chosen to forego their own pay to join the teachers on strike. Schools are currently being staffed by a skeleton crew of substitute teachers, administrators, and other LAUSD employees not represented by the teachers’ union, and only one third of students are attending classes.
This marks the first major teachers’ strike of 2019 after teachers in West Virginia and several other states held strikes in 2018 citing budget cuts, stagnant wages, and a similar lack of support for students.
The office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and union representatives are still in contract negotiations as of Saturday, January 19, after teachers rejected LAUSD’s latest offer to hire 1,200 new support staff in schools and to reduce class sizes by an average of two students. The LAUSD claims it cannot afford to increase its budget as the union demands because most of its funding comes from the state government and adding more supplementary funding from the county could bankrupt the LAUSD.
The LAUSD currently enrolls 640,000 students, and this is the first time its employees have gone on strike in over thirty years.