Friday, January 18, 2019

You cannot do just one thing

These are some of the most dedicated educators you will ever find.
It is a great lesson of biology that you cannot do just one thing. Every ecosystem is filled with inter-dependent elements. Take away a food source here, and a species is impacted there. The food chain changes.

With a full week in the books of the UTLA/LAUSD strike, I'm puzzled to report that there have been two uniformed police officers at my kid's elementary school both morning and afternoon. By every measure I've been able to find except one, the strike has been peaceful and downright civil at every turn. Even the small incident mentioned in the previous sentence is just that—small.

But in an "abundance of caution," as we say in this day and age, public safety seems to be guarding against a Haymarket Square riot. Think about this: With two uniformed officers dispatched to—likley—every school in the city two times a day, resources are pulled away from where they're actually needed. To guard against…ladies in red slickers like those pictured above? One badge I saw actually said "detective" on it. Crimes are going un-investigated and resources are being pulled over a strike that should have never happened if the District had just agreed to simple, beneficial demands the teachers made. You cannot do just one thing.

Make the call: 213-443-1300, and urge the Los Angeles Unified School District to accede to the Union's wishes. With every day of the strike, the LASUD loses $10-$15 million owing to grant-in-aid money that is not coming in based on per-student, per-day attendance. That's money that's also vital to the District's ongoing operations.

Again, you cannot do just one thing.

Jim McLauchlin

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Rally in the Rain

It's tough to get people in Los Angeles to come out in the rain. They're like, I dunno. Cats or something.

Yet despite a third day of picketing in the rain, United Teachers Los Angeles and their supporters showed up in droves for a series of rallies throughout the city. One took place on Balboa Blvd. between Victory and Vanowen, just a 10 minute stroll from our front door. So I took the 10-year-old, and we joined a crowd estimated at 3000 people (and multiplied by about eight other similar rallies throughout the city).

I took the time to remind the kid about our First Amendment rights of speech and assembly, and introduced him to the concept of time/place/manner restrictions on speech. Gotta keep it educational.

Sure, it was raining, but spirits were high, and teachers and boosters were in full throat. Again, the teachers are looking for a simple cost-of-living wage over the next two years, some additional support staff, and smaller class sizes. ALL these things make for better schools and are positives for our kids. The District can and should, without delay, accede to the teachers' wishes.

You can and should, should you so desire, call the LAUSD at 213-443-1300 and add your voice to the many they are already hearing.

Tomorrow, the 10-year-old will be bringing food to the teachers on the line again, tho' I'm switching it up to fruit after three days of donuts. The district is bleeding, losing an estimated $10-$15 million dollars a DAY in grant-in-aid funding for every day the strike continues. One day was long enough, three days is getting preposterous. Please call and urge the District to end this strike immediately by giving the teachers what they need.

Jim McLauchlin

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

LAUSD strike, Day 2

As promised, we're bringing the teachers donuts every day. An army runs on its stomach.

I'm teaching the 10-yr-old about the history of the labor movement, so that's cool!

The Los Angeles Times coverage of the strike has been great so far. They're doing an amazing job of showing you the human face behind all of this. It's a trying time.

I cannot stress enough: CALL the LAUSD at 213-443-1300. Tell them how you feel about the strike, and urge them to bring this to a swift resolution. The teachers are DESERVING of your support. They're looking for a small, cost-of-living increase in wages, and ultimately better classrooms and schools for your kids through smaller class sizes and more support staff. NOTHING is more important than education as in investment in the future.

I spoke to the principal and the office staff at my 10-year-old's school yesterday. They looked…haggard. They were tired. They're administrators, not part of the teachers' union, and were doing their best to keep things running…with about 8% of usual staff. It's a terrible situation for all: The students are not served, the teachers are not served, and those left behind to run a shoestring operation are not served.

The administrative staff, though they chose their words carefully, were solidly on the side of the teachers. I asked them how the day was. "It wasn't the same without our teachers," one said. I asked what I could do. "You know [LAUSD Superintendent] Austin Beutner?" one joked. "Call him and tell him to end this. One staffer had an older child at another school. She didn't send her kid to school on day one. She knew it was effectively worthless.

Even two days of this is two days too long. The teachers' demands are simple, and justified. The Los Angeles Unified School District MUST end this strike with all deliberate speed, and grant the teachers what they need for themselves and their students.

Jim McLauchlin

Monday, January 14, 2019

Okay, LAUSD, I like donuts, BUT…

Today is Day One of the Los Angeles teachers strike. In hopes that anything can be a "teachable moment," I brought my 10-year-old son to school. And I told him this was the plan:

• We're bringing the teachers donuts
• He was going to attend at least one day of school during the strike to have the experience and to see firsthand what it's like
• On all subsequent days, he could determine if he wants to go to school or not for the (hopefully short) duration of the strike
• No matter WHAT his decision there, we're getting up early like regular school time, and bringing the teachers donuts every day.

In the round trip between home, the donut shop, and my kid's school, we passed two OTHER schools. I'm happy to report that a full compliment of teachers were walking the line at each school, with robust support from passers-by. All this, in a steady rain (in L.A., so for you out-of-towners, this might as well have been the apocalypse).

At my kid's school, I was flat-out crying, truth be told. These teachers have been GREAT for my son, and for the community at large. It PAINED them to be outside, carrying signs and singing protest songs, knowing that they could not do their jobs today, watching their own students walk by. I saw retired teachers who had come to walk the line with their current counterparts. And no matter WHAT they were feeling on the inside, to their eternal credit, they smiled, said "good morning," and thanked every parent who was there with their kids.

Inside, all the students gathered in the auditorium. The principal, one heck of a great guy, addressed the kids and the parents. Told everyone they were doing their best. Said they'd have the kids in the computer lab, the auditorium, outside. Said it would be "fun."

District-wide, the Los Angeles Unified School District is attempting to keep schools open with about 8% the usual capacity of actual dang adults. They need the grant-in-aid money that flows to them on a per-student, per-day basis. I get it.

I also get that a strike is the WORST of all possible outcomes. It is NOT good for the teachers, the administrators, the students, the district, the parents. NO ONE wins here.

The teachers' demands are simple, and justified: A cost-of-living wage increase over the next two years, and some additional staff and smaller class sizes. ALL of these are good outputs.

The onus is squarely on the shoulders of the district. It MUST accede to these very reasonable demands.

I will be there every morning, with my son, for this duration. I like donuts. But I'd rather enjoy them in a more comfortable environment, knowing that the needs of my son, the teachers, and the community at large are being served.

Los Angeles Unified School District: Give the teachers what we all need, nnd this strike immediately.

Jim McLauchlin