L.A.’s  Teachers  Got  What  They  Wanted—For  Their  Trainees

L.A.’s Teachers Got What They Wanted—For Their Trainees

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, February 1, 2019

Topping the union’s list of concerns were demands around class sizes, which in lots of schools often went beyond the limits stipulated in the instructors’ previous agreement—and in some cases were well upwards of 40 kids. While research on the advantages of class-size decrease is mixed, a number of compelling studies recommend that smaller sized class sizes can be a significant predictor of student success. Another issue: the scarceness of school staff tasked with supporting trainees’ extracurricular requires and well-being. Lots of schools, for example, have for years operated without a full-time curator or nurse, and a 2017 report found that a Los Angeles public-high-school therapist’s average caseload was 378 students, though that might have been a conservative estimate provided recent analyses of the settlement, which concluded that the little number of additional employs will leave the ratio at 1 to 500. Nationally, the suggested student-to-counselor ratio is 250 to 1. Yet the ratio must, perhaps, be even lower than that in the Los Angeles public schools, which suffer from one of the biggest concentrations of trainee poverty amongst California’s school districts, with more than 8 in 10 students relying on subsidized meals.

On both of these problems the instructors generally got what they desired: class sizes will go down—immediate decreases for secondary math and English classes (from a limit of 46 students to 39) and, ultimately, modest cuts to the size caps for every class in all however the earliest grade levels—and the number of assistance staff will go up, including hundreds of new nurses and lots of brand-new librarians. And it was on these issues that the distinctions between LAUSD’s earlier offers and the final compromises are most striking. Pronounced juxtapositions tend to signal locations that were the greatest sources of dispute in the settlements, exposing what most preoccupied instructors.

In general, the agreement needs that the district, over the course of several school years, invest $403 million in those staffing increases and class-size decreases—more than 3 times the amount the district had offered in its last agreement proposal prior to the strikes. Beyond those financing commitments, the union is declaring success in its promotion of “community schools” created to improve the wellness of both the students and their more comprehensive social networks, as well as in its condemnation of random searches of trainees on particular schools. It even protected the district’s vow to include more green space to school campuses (by removing asphalt, for example, or producing more verdant play locations), though the details have yet to be hashed out.

While the strike’s outcomes are mainly school- and student-focused, educators, too, will benefit, notes Mark Hlavacik, a communications professor at the University of North Texas who studies instructors’ union rhetoric. They’ll have smaller sized classes to manage, more aid from other school personnel, and less headaches over standardized testing, which, as part of the contract, the school district has agreed to curtail. However the crucial takeaway is that teachers are advancing themselves as advocates for trainees and and schools.