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Mr. Austin Beutner is ruining my education: the next necessary step is a strike.

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Mr. Austin Beutner is ruining my education: the next necessary step is a strike.

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United Teacher Los Angeles (UTLA) — around 34,000 educators in the Los Angeles Unified School District — is expected to strike starting Monday, January 14. Teachers and staff plan to picket in front of their individual schools early Monday morning and later head to a rally in downtown.

Now, why are thousands of LAUSD striking?

Teachers in Los Angeles, like those across the country, want bigger paychecks. But their desires aren’t merely regarding salary increases; UTLA is fighting for more money for counselors, nurses, librarians, a reduction in standardized testing, and a promise of smaller class sizes. Additionally, charter schools, which takes more money away from neighborhood schools, is another issue — UTLA wants strict regulations on charter-school growth. Last but not least, UTLA points to nearly $2 billion in reserves at LAUSD that the union says can be used to pay for the aforementioned demands.

So, which side am I on? Pro-UTLA? Pro-LAUSD? Undecided?

I agree wholeheartedly with the demands of UTLA that will benefit not only the teachers and staff of LAUSD, but also the students.

In talking with one of my teachers, I heard that they receive less than $3,000 a month. That’s just absurd! And one of my other teachers who got their doctoral degree isn’t getting paid much more. They’re working around 7 hours a day, and even staying after school at times to support us students in getting the education we deserve, but teachers aren’t receiving the salaries that they deserve. According to my rough calculation, teachers are getting around $13-$15 an hour. That’s the same amount I get in my part-time job of tutoring middle school students! So the real question is this: is it fair for teachers who have received a higher education to receive similar pay to high school students who have jobs? This is my response: no.

While teachers are an essential part of a school in teaching the students, counselors, nurses, and librarians are just as important in enriching and supporting the students at school. Although LAUSD schools are in dire need of counselors, nurses, and librarians, Mr. Oh-so-oblivious Beutner isn’t paying as much attention to such needs and demands. Does he realize that other schools, like La Canada High School, have around 2-3 counselors per grade — this means that students are able to get more individualized attention and support in navigating their way through high school. My school, the Ambassador School of Global Leadership, only has 1 counselor for the entire high school. I rarely get the chance to meet her; in the case that I do, it’s only after bothering the office staff until they get annoyed. Should counselors be so hard to meet in order to get the proper guidance throughout my high school education? I don’t think so. The same applies with nurses and librarians.

Another thing that I am not so happy about is the increase of class sizes. I don’t know what Mr. Oh-so-oblivious Beutner isn’t understanding about the complaints regarding this issue. Having around 50 classmates in one classroom and receiving instruction from one teacher is setting us up for failure. More classmates equal less individualized attention from the teacher. More classmates equal less time to ask questions when I am confused. More classmates equal unproductivity and hard management for the teacher. There is a reason why I used to go to a private school, New Covenant Academy — to get more individualized attention and develop a personal relationship with my teacher to get a better recommendation letter for college. But how is that possible with around 50 students per classroom? — it’s not.

While some may think that the strike is detrimental to the students because they are missing out on instructional periods, I would encourage them to think about the long-run. The purpose of this strike is not only to benefit the teachers, but also to help us get a better education. While missing instructional time may seem not-so-efficient as of right now, a successful strike will bring upon improvements throughout the whole district.

The strike is the next necessary action. The teachers deserve better. The students deserve better. We deserve better.

 

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