As thousands of educators descended on the rain-slicked streets of Los Angeles for the first day of a teachers' strike Monday, the L.A. Unified School District urged the union representing them to resume negotiations over school funding.
“We made our last proposal to [United Teachers Los Angeles] on Friday, which was rejected," LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said at a morning news conference in downtown L.A. "They walked away from bargaining. We would encourage them, we urge them to resume bargaining with us, anytime, anywhere, 24/7.”
Negotiations over class size reduction, pay raises for educators and an increase in school staffing have stalled during the weeks leading up to the city's first teachers' strike in 30 years. At UTLA's own news conference on Monday, union President Alex Caputo-Pearl lamented that teachers were in "a fight for the soul of public education."
LAUSD, which hired some 500 substitute teachers for the roughly 600,000 students in the district, said it's been discussing the issue with the governor, the mayor and the state superintendent of public instruction. Buetner said the district's 1,240 schools were set to remain open as talks continued.
In a statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom noted that he submitted a budget to lawmakers last week that would "make the largest ever investment in K through 12 education, help pay down billions in school district pension debt and provide substantial new funding for special education and early education."
On Monday afternoon, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters that UTLA planned to continue the strike for a second day.
Jerry Guzman's granddaughter is among the children affected by the demonstration. Speaking alongside district officials, she expressed her concern for the students as well as the educators.
"Our children need to be in school, and our teachers also need the tools they need to successfully do their job," Guzman said.
Lisette Duarte, who works for La Comadre, a bilingual resource for students and their parents, spoke about the burden on the families.
"We know that parents don’t have the means to provide adequate care during the strike... We hope the district and union come to resolution fairly quickly," Duarte said.