The Reason Why LA Teachers Are Set To Boycott School On October 19th

LA teachers are set to boycott an optional learning school day set by the district on October 19th, here's why.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is struggling to fill in learning gaps. Students are behind and experiencing learning loss at high rates. This is a result of varying factors, but school officials are eager to get students back up to speed and one solution has LA teachers prepared to boycott: extra class days. 

The LAUSD school board voted to add four additional learning days to their calendar. These are optional school periods that are being opened to give students extra class time to gain further instruction. The first of these days is set to occur on Wednesday, October 19, followed by December 17th, March 15, and April 19. LA teachers are prepared to boycott on the first day, October 19.

The LAUSD school district approved their accelerated learning days without discussing the matter with teachers’ unions. Expecting their educators to come into work for extra days without properly involving them in the planning process has left many LA teachers questioning the practice. In addition, school officials have not discussed specific plans with teachers. 

The Unified Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) noted that educators working at LAUSD have not been properly notified of just who is expected to work on these additional days, how students who chose not to attend will be affected, and whether or not this will affect teacher evaluations. In addition, union leaders have pointed out that these additional school days will cost $122 million dollars. They argue that this funding could be put to better use by investing in LA teachers, smaller class sizes, and hiring more counselors. 

These days are expected to help students catch up on their studies. While the pandemic created massive learning gaps, the teacher shortage, chronic absenteeism, and new grading policies have also contributed to students’ lack of understanding of lessons. But children aren’t the only ones struggling. LA teachers are also finding difficulties. 

LA teachers cannot afford to live in the areas that they work. As California passes higher budgets to serve fewer students in an already suffering economy, the cost of living has become impossible to pay. Teachers are working second jobs and suffering from burnout from having to fill in for teachers who quit or are chronically absent. 

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Unfortunately, the UTLA fails to recognize that the worker shortage isn’t just affecting LA teachers but counselors as well. Schools cannot hire mental health care workers who do not apply. While many districts would love to hire more teachers and give them fewer children to educate, the teacher shortage is making that increasingly difficult — especially in the LAUSD district where nearly 70% of teachers are considering quitting. Raising teacher pay is a solution that many communities support but whether that is feasible or not, in a state that just committed billions of dollars to serving every student free breakfast and lunch through their new free meals program, is debatable. 

Regardless, the UTLA teachers union was not properly consulted when the district committed to four optional days of school. This is a serious point of contention. Educators who oppose being told to show up for extra work — without gaining additional pay and with no knowledge of whether or not students will even attend — are planning to boycott. How this affects students and district plans to combat learning loss is unknown.