This week’s strike by United Teachers Los Angeles has been described by organizers as a “fight for the soul of public education,” and we agree. The stakes are high in 2019 as teachers in Los Angeles and Oakland Unified amplify calls for reduced class sizes, decreased dependence on standardized testing, and higher wages for staff. Californians for Justice supports these calls and recognizes how crucial a healthy school environment is for teachers and students alike.
Without the support of public officials and the additional investment of resources, teachers–especially those working in low-income schools with predominantly Black and Brown student populations–are being forced to leave their schools and communities behind to find living wages. We’ve already seen this in Bay Area communities like Oakland, where the district is struggling to retain teachers–and teachers of color in particular–due to the housing crisis and the increased cost of living.
This pattern of teacher turnover is detrimental to students and communities of color and makes it hard to build Relationship Centered Schools where all students, staff, and administrators feel safe, supported, and capable of thriving.
CFJ Student Leader Jiawen Wang who is a student at Oakland High expressed this concern recently: “When teachers come and go we lose the strong connections students need to feel safe and comfortable at school. We can struggle and fall behind in our classes. We can become overwhelmed and not know who to turn to for assistance. We can check out and go through an entire day without talking in class or connecting with an adult.”
The teachers who are on strike are showing us that this is a moment to stand with working families. It’s up to all of us to ensure that teachers are supported in this fight for the soul of our communities, our schools, and our future. Here are just a few of the ways you can support:
- Follow UTLA or your local teachers union on social media
- Donate to help keep teachers and students fed during the strike
- Stay informed about the strike and what’s going on in public education