The Los Angeles Teacher Strike is a Battle of Democrats Versus Democrats

Neetu Chandak | Education and Politics Reporter

The Los Angeles teacher strike is turning out be a battle among Democrats.

American Federation for Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, a Democrat, called out former Education Secretary Arne Duncan for not supporting the teacher strike, according to the Washington Post.

“Hey @arneduncan, why is it that when it came to guns in schools you were all for kids striking, but when their teachers want guidance counselors instead of arm guards, you blast them?” Weingarten tweeted Monday.

Duncan, who served during Barack Obama’s presidency, wrote that a strike would hurt students in an op-ed for The Hill. He added the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) did not have enough funds to meet the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union’s demands of prioritizing smaller class sizes and increasing raises.

statement from LAUSD said it was “on the brink of fiscal insolvency.”

LAUSD claims they currently run a $500 million annual deficit and UTLA’s demands would cost an additional $786 million per year, NBC 4 reported.

The district is led by superintendent Austin Beutner, who was hired by a school board composed of mostly Democrats, according to WaPo.

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom also came to LAUSD’s defense Monday, saying strikers needed to get back to the negotiating table with the district.

“Our members were enraged to see Arne Duncan and [former Democratic Los Angeles Mayor] Antonio Villaraigosa shaking their finger at them telling them not to go on strike when you could count on your hands and toes how many days these guys have spent in a classroom with the conditions that our folks deal with,” UTLA leader Alex Caputo-Pearl said, WaPo reported.

UTLA has additionally criticized money being divested from public schools into charters. (RELATED: Report: Tough Gun Laws Did Not Improve Los Angeles Safety)

Charter School enrollment increased by 36 percent in Los Angeles County between the 2012-2013 school year to 2017-2018, according to The Sacramento Bee.

Around $10,000 is spent per student in LAUSD and other California districts, with additional funding for low-income students, English-learners and foster youth. Nearly 25 percent of students are learning English and 80 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

LAUSD reportedly lost $69.1 million over the course of three days at the time of the report. Funding is based on attendance and while LAUSD has around 600,000 students, under one-third of students showed up to classes. The loss could have been more had the district remained closed.

Democrats in support of the strike include Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

 

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