LULAC Stands With LA Educators
Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) stands in strong solidarity with Los Angeles teachers and staff in their struggle for social justice through quality education. Throughout America, LULAC supports the mission of educators and promotes equal access to learning resources for all students including historically underserved Latino communities. After nearly two years of unproductive bargaining efforts, teachers in Los Angeles, California were left with no choice but to leave their classrooms on Thursday, January 10th, 2019 and fill the streets of downtown Los Angeles. This is the largest teachers’ labor action in 30-years and the first major mobilization for education justice of 2019.
“Our children are the nation’s greatest treasure and yet, we are witnessing a growing chasm in California between those who have the resources they need while others must struggle daily just to access learning opportunities,” says Yvonne Gonzalez Duncan, State Director, California LULAC. “Teachers should not be forced to hit the streets, walk picket lines and stage labor actions out of the desperation they feel for their kids but the administration left them with no other options,” she added.
Nearly 500,000 students are enrolled in the nation’s second-largest school system Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The district’s 863 campuses are spread across 710 square miles and 26 cities in L.A. County. The overwhelming majority of students come from low-income families of color. Approximately 73.4% of students enrolled self-reported as Latino and 81% of students are eligible for free and reduced- price lunches. Los Angeles teachers are calling for the same quality schools all students deserve across the country. Gonzalez- Duncan delineates in detail the critical disparity in education young Latinos are facing while competing globally for future jobs and professions. “For many people, education can be the silver bullet for economic mobility, civic engagement, and hope for future generations. According to a recent report, California ranked last in America for its spending on students vs. its spending on prisoners.
Those expenditures came out to $11,495 per student vs. an average cost of $64,642 per inmate. That stark difference demonstrates our priorities are not aligned with improving the lives of future generations. We need to listen to the teachers that are advocating on behalf of their students for increased resources and increased funding.This adversely affects California’s students and its Latino students in particular as 73.4% self-reported as Latinos in the Los Angeles Unified School District. These students are our most vulnerable communities that stand to fall between the cracks of the educational pipeline. Without these resources, students fall victim to the school to prison pipeline. Investing in our students is vital to our economy's progress.”
Further, Los Angeles teachers demand smaller class sizes to improve the academic outcome of their students. Also, they cite an increased need for psychological counselors to assist students suffering from the effects of difficult personal and family circumstances. In addition, they are calling for librarians and nurses on-staff to provide essential support services for students. Teachers are also demanding necessary increased funding levels for community schools and less perfunctory state testing which does not add to student learning. Teachers are also demanding an end to disruptive and dehumanizing random searches of students which transform schools from centers of learning into institution-like settings . In summary, teachers are striking for educational justice in Los Angeles schools.
“Let us be very clear. This is not about going on strike for fat paychecks for educators,” says Sindy Benavides, CEO for LULAC National who attended Normandie Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles. “Rather, it is about fighting for fairness and the future of our cities, our states and our country by making sure students are learning how to become leaders for themselves, their families and their communities. We cannot and will not fail them. Every child deserves a quality education, not because of the zip code they were born into, but because we, as a society, re-commit ourselves to the belief that teachers, first and foremost, have the tools and resources they need to utilize all their education, training and experience to help our kids. That’s our duty and responsibility.”
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org