Teacher Plan to Picket

United Teachers Los Angeles planned to boycott the October 19 “acceleration day” threatens to undercut an effort championed by LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to provide extra on-campus time for students who have struggled to keep up academically since the pandemic’s onset. 

More than 93% of those who voted endorsed the boycott. UTLA leaders say members’ opposition to Carvalho’s plan has been fueled by concerns that LAUSD hasn’t come up with a plan to use these days effectively.

Last spring, Carvalho convinced LAUSD board members to insert four additional, but optional days of classes into the 2022-23 school year. District officials said each of these days — all Wednesdays — was strategically placed on the calendar: near deadlines when teachers must report grades or when students are ramping up for Advanced Placement tests.

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

LAUSD students were at particularly high risk of falling behind during the pandemic. Researchers have warned that students struggled most in districts that kept campuses shuttered longest — and LAUSD remained in distance learning mode longer than more than 80% of the nation’s districts.

Carvalho has also warned to expect drops in LAUSD’s performance on California’s statewide standardized tests when results come out later this year. He said the data is likely to show that the “most politically fragile populations of students lost the most ground.”

One analysis in the American Educational Research Journal distilled the findings of 67 studies of efforts to improve struggling schools and concluded that “extended learning time” — that is, longer school days or a longer school year — was a “particularly promising” reform strategy. 

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

Of the $122 million the board approved in its spring calendar vote, noted that roughly $52 million was set aside to pay teachers for three days of optional training on Aug. 9-11, during the week before classes began.

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

The union and district are scheduled to meet again for further talks after Labor Day. 

Written By: Jesica Ramirez

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