The United Teachers Los Angeles union and the Los Angles Unified School District went back to the negotiating table Thursday as teachers were on strike, which the district claims cost them more than $100 million over five days.
LAUSD has more than 600,000 students and district funding is based on student attendance.
Close to 157,000 students attended classes Monday, but that number plummeted to around 85,000 by Friday, according to LAUSD numbers available at the time of reporting.
Some students were seen jumping the fence during the strike.
.@AustinLASchools is inside Virgil MS right now and here are their students jumping the fence. How is the district protecting our children?? @UTLAnow @LASchools @KTLA @ABC7 @NBCLA @latimes @kron4news @CBSLA #LAUSDstrike pic.twitter.com/rNhbD50pvW
— Janice Chow (@jchow214) January 16, 2019
UTLA reported more than 60,000 people — including the union’s members, community members and parents — were rallying as of Friday.
Metros were flooded with protesters.
Traffic was also shut down in parts of the southern California city due to the high volume of protesters, according to the Washington Post.
LAUSD anticipated the massive strike by hiring nearly 400 substitute teachers and reassigning 2,000 administrators with teaching credentials to replace the missing teachers.
Video footage show multiple instances where protesters blocked others from entering school property.
“We say no to scabs because we care more about our children’s futures than a sub making them watch movies all day today,” DSA Los Angeles tweeted Tuesday.
— DSA Los Angeles 🌹 (@DSA_LosAngeles) January 15, 2019
— Jose Salvador (@chavatweets1) January 14, 2019
Another protester, whose Twitter account is now deleted, posted names of substitute teachers and said they “crossed our picket line.”
— 𝖙𝖔𝖒𝖆𝖘 𝖊𝖑 𝖇𝖆𝖘𝖚𝖗𝖆 (@TL) January 16, 2019
The strike is the result of UTLA and LAUSD being unable to reach an agreement on a plan that lowers class sizes, increases raises by 6 percent and addresses public schools being turned into charters.
LAUSD said it did not have control over charter schools as that was handled at the state level.
The district added that UTLA’s demands would cost nearly $800 million a year as LAUSD is running on a $500 million deficit.
LAUSD’s fiscal problem is contributed by an unaffordable healthcare plan that started in the late 1960s, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
The district began giving eligible employees, retirees and their dependents free healthcare without forcing them to pay.
Health benefits for retired employees is estimated to cost LAUSD more than $300 million in 2019.
“The average cost of health and welfare benefits that teachers receive is $14,562,” an LAUSD spokeswoman previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Los Angeles union said the demands were about serving students.
Wall Street Journal editorial board member Allysia Finley suggested in a Jan. 4 Op-ed that the negotiations were highly political in nature, however. Increasing staff, for example, could bring in more potential union members, which would help UTLA regain control of the school board.
The LAUSD spokeswoman said a teacher with the right qualifications could earn around $74,000 annually.
Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who worked in President Obama’s administration and California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom did not support the strike because they believed it would hurt students.
The district is said to have more than 80 percent of families living in poverty and 17,000 homeless students.
Strikes can be expected to continue if a negotiation is not met between the union and district over the weekend. The last strike in Los Angeles was 30 years ago in 1989.
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