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United Teachers Los Angeles Accuses Los Angeles School District of Changes in Public School System

With a strike looming, United Teachers Los Angeles president, Alex Caputo-Pearl accused Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent, Austin Beutner, of a taking part in a very “ambitious” strategy to erode the public school system.

In an interview with NBC4’s Conan Nolan, Caputo-Pearl responded to the stagnant talks between the teachers union and the school district. The union president addressed the lack of conversation on topics such as raising teacher salaries, reducing class size and reducing the amount of standardized testing.

But the one point of contention Caputo-Pearl feels strongly about is the superintendent’s push to add more magnet schools in the district.

“Right now the charter movement funded by billionaires, the same people who brought Austin Beutner as superintendent, is actually trying to undermine public education,” he said.

There are 260 magnet schools within LAUSD. These schools are non-unionized and when a school flips to become a specialized school, current teachers at that school must re-apply for openings.

“They’re being very clear about it about breaking them down. Detroit and New Orleans don’t really have public schools systems anymore, they have a patchwork quilt of some charters, of some other schools,” Caputo-Pearl said. “We can’t have that. We need a civic institution of public education.”

There is a growing demand for magnet schools amongst parents. The magnet program started in 1977 with only six schools and has grown exponentially and successfully with only 11 schools closing or scaling back. Caputo-Pearl welcomes this type of education but believes this section of the district must be held to the same standard as the rest of the public school system.

“Just be accountable,” Caputo-Pearl said. “Serve all students. Don’t cherry pick students. Be transparent with money.”

If the superintendent doesn’t come back to the bargaining table, Caputo-Pearl hinted at the possibility of a teachers strike. UTLA will hold a vote to authorize a strike on Aug. 23. With teachers in states like Oklahoma, West Virginia and Arizona participating in a statewide strike, the UTLA president believes now is the time for not only his members but teachers around the country to stand up for themselves.

“We want an agreement. We’ve been pursuing an agreement for the past 17 months,” Caputo-Pearl said. “Austin Beutner, instead of saying that he needs 56 days to come to mediation, he should agree to a mediation day next week. That’s what we need.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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