Teachers and parents in Los Angeles prepare for a possible strike: NPR



The teacher at Alta Loma Elementary School, Jennifer Liebe-Zelazny, is ready to attack if there is no agreement on Monday, but she knows that it will cost her fourth graders.

Roxanne Turpen for NPR


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Roxanne Turpen for NPR

The teacher at Alta Loma Elementary School, Jennifer Liebe-Zelazny, is ready to attack if there is no agreement on Monday, but she knows that it will cost her fourth graders.

Roxanne Turpen for NPR

On Friday, the teacher of Los Angeles, Rosa Jimenez, began her clbad in History of the United States with a question for her students:

"What does a union do?"

The young people of Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools leaf through their notes. From the back of the room, a student named Ingrid raises her hand:

The teachers strike in Los Angeles could be days away

"A union is a workers' organization that is formed for the purpose of benefiting workers," he explains. They deal with "wages and benefits and working conditions".

"Great," Jiménez continues, "and what is one thing they can do? It's that word: we write the definition."

"Strike", says the clbad in unison.

Jiménez is teaching this lesson with an eye on the possible teachers' strike in Los Angeles on Monday.

The more than 30,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles have been working without a contract for more than a year. On Friday, the union met once again with the leaders of the LA Unified School District to try to reach an agreement. LAUSD is the second largest school district in the country and a strike would affect approximately 480,000 public school students.

Friday's negotiations come a day after California Governor Gavin Newsom submitted a proposed budget that included more funds for public education. After the announcement by the Democratic governor, LAUSD said it was willing to put more money towards the demands of the union. Those demands include smaller clbades and more nurses, librarians and counselors, among other things.

In the event of a strike, the district says that the schools will remain open during the same hours, with the same programs before and after school. It has also been said that student learning will still take place, with plans to staff the schools with administrators, volunteers and 400 newly hired substitute teachers. Principals are responsible for creating plans for a school day, or several, without teachers, and it is unclear how many students would still attend clbades.

Rosa Escobar and her daughter Kimberly are preparing to open their home to teachers on strike Monday. "We went to Costco today, so we have a big package of toilet paper right there," Escobar said.

Roxanne Turpen for NPR


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Roxanne Turpen for NPR

While some parents are still learning about the strike, others have turned to social media to show their support for teachers and organize parties to make signs.

Mother Rosa Escobar has gone a step further: she is planning to open her home to striking teachers at nearby Alta Loma Elementary School, where her daughter is in fifth grade.

"We went to Costco today, so we have a big package of toilet paper there," he said Thursday.

Escobar is not the only father of Alta Loma who has considered what they would do if there was a strike.

Mary Fuentes says it's important for her preschooler, Jennifer, to be in school, even if her teachers do not, "because they learn more and do nothing at home."

Leann White plans to keep her first-grade daughter, Saniya, home, but understands that parents can not make that decision.

"They will want to support the teachers, but they will have to send them to school because if I do not send you to school, how am I going to make the money to provide?"

Kimberly Escobar, a fifth grade student at Alta Loma Elementary School, understands that her teacher can go on strike.

Roxanne Turpen for NPR


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Roxanne Turpen for NPR

Kimberly Escobar, a fifth grade student at Alta Loma Elementary School, understands that her teacher can go on strike.

Roxanne Turpen for NPR

The Alta Loma teacher, Jennifer Liebe-Zelazny, is ready to attack if there is no agreement on Monday. But she knows that it will cost her fourth graders.

"Obviously I'm really worried if this prolongs the real impact it will have on your progress," he says. "I'm a little stressed about that."

Liebe-Zelazny has spent the last few days collecting donated books to send home with her students so they can have something to read during the strike.

She says: "I'm trying to balance the fact of being a union member and not wanting to make it easier for the district, and be a teacher and a mother and want to give my children everything."

Los Angeles saw for the last time a teachers strike almost 30 years ago.


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