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Home / Impact / Movements / LAUSD teachers to boycott first of 4 scheduled `optional’ instructional days

LAUSD teachers to boycott first of 4 scheduled `optional’ instructional days

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The union representing Los Angeles Unified School District teachers announced Friday that its members have voted to boycott the first of four “optional” instruction days that were added to the LAUSD’s academic calendar this year without union negotiations.

“The district chose to add these `Accelerated Days’ at a cost of about $122 million without consulting with parents, teachers or other school workers,” the United Teachers Los Angeles said in a statement Friday.

“In response to this decision, 93% of UTLA members voted to boycott LAUSD’s first `optional’ day. In lieu of participating in this waste of taxpayer dollars, an overwhelming percentage of UTLA members have voted to partake in a boycott and rally alongside community members on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, the first listed optional date.”

The union also labeled the addition of the optional days as a “$122 million stunt” that “prioritizes optics over student needs. “

City News Service reached out to the LAUSD for a comment and was still awaiting a reply.

The optional days are scheduled to be held on Oct. 19, Dec. 7, March 15 and April 19.

Earlier this month, the UTLA filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the district over the optional days issue.

At the time, the UTLA called the move an overstepping of the district’s authority and a failure to include teachers in discussions about how to recover learning time lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Educators are the ones in the classroom day to day, not Superintendent (Alberto) Carvalho, yet they are being left out of conversations on how to most effectively invest in student learning,” UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz said at the time. “Instead, the district has chosen to make hasty decisions that will have more negative consequences for both educators and students, while the contract for more than 30,000 employees has expired.”

The union and district are currently engaged in contract negotiations.

“Los Angeles Unified has, and continues to, meet with UTLA to discuss work and academic calendars,” a district representative said in a statement earlier this month.

“UTLA has recently filed an Unfair Practice Charge regarding purely optional days which afford teachers the opportunity to work with small groups of students who may need additional instruction. Additional pay will be offered to teachers choosing to participate.

“The district looks forward to further discussions with UTLA on this and other topics as we work together for the school communities we serve.”

The additional school days were announced in April, with LAUSD officials saying the days are for “optional, targeted, accelerated instructional opportunities … which will provide real-time support and assistance to catch up and meet grade-level standards or earn a C or better in their courses or to get ahead.”

At the time, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said the additional days “will be designed to provide a deep level of supplemental academic support for our students who need it the most — students who have lost the most ground, students in foster care, students with English language limitations or one or more disabilities. We must have the courage and compassion to provide extended quality instruction time for these students and professional development for our teachers.”

Friday, the union said the optional days “are to distract from the district’s refusal to support an equitable education for all students by denying our children support and services proven to ensure student success.”

“By arbitrarily scattering these days throughout the school calendar, real teaching and learning will be disrupted and dollars that were meant to be used on education will be wasted,” the union said.

In its statement Friday, the union also said the $122 million it says the optional days will cost can be better spent in other ways.

“LAUSD must reallocate the funds being used on the `Accelerated Days’ to the programs, services and staff roles proven to have a long-term positive impact on student learning and career outcomes,” the union said.

“This means ensuring every school site has a nurse on staff every day. Currently, 80% of LAUSD schools do not have a full-time nurse, and 15% of schools in South Los Angeles have no allocated nurse time whatsoever.”

The union also cited a need for “smaller class sizes and increased salaries for teachers to ensure long-term retention of quality educators,” along with added support for special education programs such as arts, music, ethnic studies, dual-language programs, tutoring, outdoor education, and field trips.

In addition, the union said, “The mental health needs of our students cannot be overlooked and more counselors, psychologists, and school social workers must be available at all school sites. Lastly, the school district must seriously support the housing, environmental, immigration, and COVID recovery needs in our communities.”

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