Diane Ravitch has been covering the story extensively and yesterday was on her way to Los Angeles to join the picket lines. Here are a few of her links.
- Chicago Teachers Union Blasts Duncan for His Criticism of UTLA
- The Los Angeles Strike: Whose Perspective Matters
- What’s at Stake in L.A. Teachers’ Strike: The Survival of Public Education
Diane has come a long way. Back when we made our movie and went after charters - and Diane did so much to promote it - even being our keynote speaker at the premiere attended by 650 people -- she didn't seem ready to take a hard core stand against charters.
If you didn't yet see the 2011 movie that took the first major shot at charters, it is still relevant --- The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman - http://gemnyc.org/our-film/.
Here's the common dreams article:
Beginning Walkout, Los Angeles Teachers Find Support From Sanders—But Not Corporate Democrats
As more than 30,000 educators and supporters prepared Monday to protest the Los Angeles school district's overcrowded classrooms, low teacher salaries, and refusal to hire sufficient support staff, observers noted how the lines being drawn reflect divisions within the Democratic Party regarding education policies: corporate-backed privatization versus strengthening public schools.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos attacked teachers across the country for going on strike last year over their chronically low wages, claiming Oklahoma teachers were allowing "adult disagreements" to get in the way of "serving the students"—ignoring the fact that educators there walked out of classrooms last April largely because funding cuts had left schoolchildren with dilapidated textbooks and insufficient supplies.
But the fight over the future of education and teachers' rights in Los Angeles is revealing rifts among Democrats and progressives, with former Education Secretary Arne Duncan also expressing support for the school district while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stands firmly on the side of the educators.
Meanwhile, Duncan, President Barack Obama's education secretary and a charter school proponent, released a statement over the weekend saying Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) "is spending half a billion dollars more each year than it brings in and is headed toward insolvency in about two years if nothing changes… It simply does not have the money to fund UTLA's demands."
LAUSD posted the comments on its Twitter account along with the claim, "The community agrees: a strike will hurt our kids."
As Common Dreams reported last week, the demands that the teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), has made of the district include a 6.5 percent raise, the hiring off more educators to ensure smaller class sizes, and more nurses, counselors, and librarians to support L.A.'s 600,000 public school students.
Supporters of the teachers have noted that L.A. school superintendent Austin Beutner, a Democrat, has a background in hedge fund management and investment banking rather than education, and that it shows in his proposal to divide the district into 32 "networks" to create a "leaner, more efficient" school system.
Duncan's support for the school district, which in fact has nearly $2 billion in a reserve that teachers say it should use to fund salary increases and new hires, including nurses and counselors, is indicative of establishment Democrats' harmful alignment with corporate interests—while traditionally Democratic teachers' unions are finding themselves supported mainly by progressives.
"Nearly every leader in this fight is a Democrat, with the two sides representing larger fissures within the Democratic Party about the future of public education," wrote Rebecca Klein at the Huffington Post. "What happens with this teachers strike could set the stage for how these issues play out in the 2020 election and beyond."
"The choice is very clear," wrote Nikhil Goyal, author of "Schools on Trial," on Twitter. "You can be on the side of teachers or you can be on the side of Arne Duncan, Betsy DeVos, and those who want to privatize and undermine public education. We need a clean break with the Duncan-DeVos agenda."