California teacher strikes spreading


Associated Press

Los Angles teachers on strike in January of 2019.

Ally Hughes, Staff Writer

Rising backlash seen by Los Angeles Unified School District [LAUSD] arose nationwide and similar concerns are emerging at Monte Vista.
Not only has the act of civil disobedience affected teachers, but it has also impacted students in all high schools, including Monte Vista and schools in Oakland Unified School District [OUSD]. Problems for teachers such as low pay are well known, but ballooning class sizes and lack of staffing are equally impactful.
Authorizing a strike comes after many prior steps. If negotiations aren’t progressing on either side, management (or SRVEA in SRVUSD) would declare impasse. They would setup an appointment with a state appointed mediator, and allow mediations to continue. If there is still no resolution, a neutral fact finding party will examine facts from both sides. If still no solution has been come to, there are two options- management can impose its last offer on SRVEA or they can authorize and strike.
Starting on Monday, Jan. 14 teachers in LAUSD went on strike because of a cumulation of problems. They were on strike for a total of six days, ending on Jan. 22. The strike had drastic effects, including a change in class size requirements. It caused not only costly repercussions to the government, but $125 million to LAUSD because of attendance, and also an agreement between the LA Teachers Union and the district.

This agreement includes a six percent income raise, smaller classes, and hiring additional nurses, counselors, and librarians.
The cost of living has steadily increased in California over the past few years, but the pay raise has not kept up.
“They haven’t had a pay raise in a long time, and that’s a concern across California for teachers,” Jenyth Utchen, Monte Vista english teacher said. “The cost of living is going up two and a half to three percent per year, and teacher salaries are going up less than half that.”
Larger class sizes are also a concern because it is difficult to provide an equitable education with an uncontrolled number of students in a room. As a result of financial difficulties and inability afford all the necessary supplies, there aren’t enough desks for all the students in the course.
“I spend over $1,000 a year of my own money on supplies, because the district won’t cover it all,” childcare teacher Carolyn Dashiell said. “It’s like being at your home. If you want it and it makes your life easier, you will buy it simply because it makes your life easier.”
OUSD has seen these conflicts as well. On Feb. 5, the Oakland Teachers Union voted and decided to authorize a district wide strike in order to combat the issues.
The class sizes seen in LAUSD were among some of the top in the nation, reaching up to 45 in some classrooms. The new contract created a cap at 39 students per room. At Monte Vista, the average class size is about 32, including all courses. This average, though, is just an average and a recent site schedule proposal acknowledged most classes average 36.
Along with all these problems, there is a lack of nurses and support staff in schools across California. Counselors are occupied with things like scheduling and communication, so they do not always have time to talk with students about personal issues.
“If a student is having a bad day, and wants to go talk to a counselor or lie down in the nurse’s office for a little while, there is nobody to talk to that student,” Utchen said.
As a whole, teachers go on strike for the students, because they know that they are not providing for the students as best they can under district circumstances.
“What Oakland is asking for directly benefits students,” SRVEA Union Representative Brendan Nelson said. “Attracting and retaining high quality teachers, supporting all students, and investing in future students.”
There are ways that teachers in San Ramon Valley Unified School District is fighting these problems, such as showing up in red to the district meetings.
“Teachers show up in mass, just to make a statement,” Dashiell said. “It’s just to say ‘Hey, we’re here and unless the negotiations come through we will take action.’”
Monte Vista has been experiencing many of the same problems as LAUSD and OUSD, but the hope is to make an agreement with the district. Nonetheless, careers in education are changing- hopefully for the better.