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New teachers group joins Los Angeles educators in strike

Charter schools joined the protests to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes.

Teachers in Los Angeles, California, are asking for higher pay, smaller class sizes and more support staff.
Teachers in Los Angeles, California, are asking for higher pay, smaller class sizes and more support staff. (Robyn Beck/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)
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Tens of thousands of teachers in Los Angeles, California, stayed out of school for a third day Wednesday, with educators at independent charter schools joining them at protests for the first time.

The teachers are pressing for higher pay, smaller class sizes and more support staff that school officials say could bankrupt the nation’s second-largest system.

On Monday, the first day of the walkout, many kids stayed home, too. About 144,000 students out of 600,000 were absent. On Tuesday, that number grew to 159,000.

Teachers with the independent Accelerated Schools charter network walked off the job Tuesday to demand better working conditions and in support for public school educators.

Charter teachers joining the strike is a big deal because it shows they “see themselves in solidarity with the broader body of district educators,” said John Rogers, a professor of education at University of California at Los Angeles.

It wasn’t clear how many charter teachers walked off the job.

All 1,240 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District were open. The district has hired hundreds of substitutes to replace tens of thousands of staff members.

Parents who sent their kids to school wondered how much teaching was happening as students were herded into large groups. David Biener said his son and daughter completed work sheets in math and history while sitting on the gym floor at their middle school.

“It’s not an ideal situation, obviously, but there was some learning going on,” he said.

No new talks have been scheduled.

The union rejected the district’s latest offer to hire nearly 1,200 teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians and reduce class sizes by two students.

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the teachers union president, said members are “prepared to go as long as it takes” to get a contract they consider fair. The last strike in 1989 lasted nine days.

Teachers earn between $44,000 and $86,000 a year depending on their education and experience. The district says the average salary is $75,000.

— Associated Press

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