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What The LA Teacher Strike Means For The Nation

United Teachers Los Angeles Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl (R) speaks to striking teachers and their supporters outside John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, California on the first day of the teachers' strike. Teachers of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest public school district in the United States, are striking for smaller class sizes, better school funding and higher teacher pay.
United Teachers Los Angeles Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl (R) speaks to striking teachers and their supporters outside John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, California on the first day of the teachers' strike. Teachers of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest public school district in the United States, are striking for smaller class sizes, better school funding and higher teacher pay.

More than 30,000 teachers in Los Angeles are on strike.

The union is asking the Los Angeles Unified School District for better wages, more support staff like nurses and counselors, and smaller class sizes. The district is the second-largest in the country. And Vox reports that having about 500,000 students without teachers will be extremely disruptive for Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has one of the largest school districts in the US, second only to New York City. More than half a million students attend the Los Angeles Unified School District, which encompasses over 700 square miles of the metropolitan area, from South LA to Bel-Air to the San Fernando Valley.

Much of the student population is poor and underserved — some 80 percent of kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. And according to the LA Times, nearly a quarter of them are learning English.

Beyond providing education, LA schools are a source of much needed child-care for parents, consistent meals for students, and resources for their health and special needs. This means that a wide-scale strike, such as what’s planned for LA, is likely to have a resounding effect on the very people the protest is ultimately trying to benefit: students.

Schools will be open no matter what — administrators, volunteers and a legion of newly hired substitute teachers are expected to fill in the gap while union members are on the picket lines, but that should leave staffing levels at roughly 8 percent of coverage for a typical day.

This could have major effects on teachers across the country. One year ago, West Virginia teachers launched a massive strike that led to a national conversation on teacher pay. As USA Today reports, “The statewide strike in West Virginia may have been historic, but it was tiny compared with the effort in LA.”

We’re in Los Angeles, and we’ll get the latest on the strike and its national effects.

GUESTS

Kyle Stokes, K-12 reporter for Southern California Public Radio’s education team

Lily Eskelsen García, President, National Education Association; @Lily_NEA

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

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