September 21, 2022

Teachers will boycott ‘optional’ first day of LAUSD’s extended school year, union says

Members of the teachers’ union will not show up for an optional day of extra classes that the Los Angeles Unified School District has scheduled for later this fall, union leaders said in a statement Friday.

United Teachers Los Angeles’ call for a boycott of Oct. 19’s “acceleration day” threatens to undermine an effort championed by LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to provide more time on campus for struggling students. follow their studies since the beginning of the pandemic.

LAUSD 2022-23 Calendar at a Glance

    • First day of class: Monday, August 15, 2022
    • Additional course days (optional): Oct. 19, Dec. 7, March 15, April 19
    • Last day of class: Thursday, June 15, 2023
    • Click here to see the full schedule

The union vote

About half of UTLA members — 18,257 out of a reported 34,000 — took part in the union-wide vote over the past three days. More than 93% of those who voted approved of the boycott. UTLA leaders say members’ opposition to Carvalho’s plan has been fueled by concerns that LAUSD has not come up with a plan to use these days effectively.

“Every time we ask for information [from LAUSD officials], that has been sorely lacking,” said union official Arlene Inouye. “The feeling is that it’s a publicity stunt to say they’re doing something” about students who are struggling academically, socially or emotionally.

How “optional days” work

News of the boycott comes amid growing tensions with Carvalho over unfinished talks over a new contract with the teachers’ union. UTLA leaders have also accused LAUSD leaders of using these “acceleration days” as an end to the race around the unionallowing Carvalho to extend the current school year without first obtaining formal union approval.

Last spring, Carvalho convinced LAUSD board members to insert four additional but optional course days in the 2022-23 school year. District officials said each of those days — every Wednesday — is strategically placed on the calendar: near deadlines when teachers must report grades or when students prepare for advanced-level tests.

He learns, I think, that we don’t just fall and obey

— Arlene Inouye, leader of United Teachers Los Angeles

Teachers and students are not required to report to campus during these four days; they could choose to stay home.

But LAUSD board members also voted to set aside $122 million to compensate teachers who came to the school. They hoped these educators would provide additional help for students in need of “intensive intervention,” according to a statement from LAUSD spokeswoman Shannon Haber.

“It’s about accelerating student progress toward grade-level skills, social-emotional learning, and high school graduation,” the statement added, “while providing teachers and others with employees the opportunity to earn additional pay”.

The risks of falling behind

LAUSD students particularly at risk of falling behind during the pandemic. Researchers warned that students were struggling the most in the districts that kept campuses closed the longest — and LAUSD remained in remote learning mode longer than more than 80% of districts nationwide.

Carvalho also warned to expect a decline in LAUSD’s performance on standardized California statewide tests when results are released later this year. He said the data would likely show that “the most politically fragile student populations have lost the most ground.”

An analysis in the American Educational Research Journal distilled the results of 67 studies on efforts to improve struggling schools and concluded that “lengthening learning time” – that is, longer school days or a longer school year – was a “particularly promising” reform strategy. (It is not clear from the study how a lot it took extra time to get real benefits.)

Will the extra time make sense?

However, UTLA officials say setting aside four seemingly random Wednesdays will simply end up disrupting “real teaching and learning.”

Inouye said it’s not clear schools know how to use extra time effectively. She said UTLA negotiators asked twice during contract talks in May and June how LAUSD expected schools to use these days. Central office administrators responded that schools should develop their own plans, Inouye said.

If not now, then when? If not, then what?

– Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified, April 26, 2022

In a recent negotiation session, a teacher shared that at her school, “the principal was talking about showing movies because they don’t know what’s going on,” Inouye said.

But if teachers fear those days are meaningless, aren’t teachers ethically obligated to come forward and help make those days meaningful?

“Our ethical obligation,” Inouye replied, “is to show that we have a plan that truly meets the needs of our students – and that’s long-term, not a one-day thing. Even if it’s a good day, this will not have a lasting impact on the lives of our students like our bargaining proposal will.

What it costs

Of the $122 million approved by the board in its vote on the spring schedule, Haber noted that about $52 million was set aside to pay teachers for three days of optional training from Aug. 9-11. , during the week preceding the start of classes. “The majority of educators participated,” she said.

Inouye called on LAUSD to divert remaining funds to its ongoing contract talks. The union called for “smaller class sizes and higher salaries for teachers to ensure the long-term retention of quality educators,” as well as investments in special education, enrichment programs and commitments to hire more nurses, librarians and counsellors.

Next steps

The union and district are to meet again for further discussions after Labor Day, according to Haber’s statement.

While the experiences of UTLA members vary, she acknowledged that many may see their students struggle, either to stay engaged in school or to rebuild after the trauma of the pandemic, Inouye said.

But union members also questioned whether the extra days were really voluntary – and Inouye suggested that by going around the union to schedule them, Carvalho was trying to play on their sympathies.

“I think Carvalho probably thought that…enough teachers would be willing to work those volunteer days because of our sympathy for our students,” Inouye said. “We always go above and beyond… I think he was counting on it like, ‘Of course the teachers are friendly or will do whatever they can. “”

“He doesn’t know UTLA yet – or he’s learning, I think, that we don’t just fall down and obey,” Inouye said, “when someone says, ‘do this’.”

What questions do you have about K-12 education in Southern California?

Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system – and the societal forces, parental choices, and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).