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  • Statement by Michael Casserly, Executive Director, Council of the Great City Schools

    On the Los Angeles School Strike

    FOR RELEASE                                                        
    January 22, 2019                                                     

    Tonya Harris at 202-393-2427

    The Council of the Great City Schools, the nation’s primary coalition of large city public school systems, strongly urges the Los Angeles Unified School District and the United Teachers of Los Angeles to pick up the pace of their contract negotiations and asks that educators return to the classroom while bargaining continues.

    Each day that our urban students are not in the classroom with their committed teachers is an instructional day that is lost forever. No one needs be reminded that the Los Angeles public schools educate disproportionately large numbers of poor students, African American youngsters, English Learners, and students with disabilities. And as it is, these students are academically behind their peers across the country, despite the instructional progress the district has made over the last decade.

    The most recent data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that only 23 percent of the district’s fourth and eighth graders are reading at or above proficient levels. These students can’t afford to miss a single day of instruction. And many of them cannot afford to miss the meals they receive, the medical care they rely on, or the social supports they require.

    We strongly believe that teachers deserve higher salaries and lower class sizes, but the walkout is aimed at the wrong people. Already, the Los Angeles Unified School District has lower funding levels per pupil than many other big city school districts across the nation, yet it devotes a higher share of those expenditures to instruction than the median urban school system. District authorities have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that the school system does not spend beyond its means. Instead, the culprit is the state of California, not the school district.

    The Council of the Great City Schools urges the parties to negotiate in good faith, and it implores the state to provide the resources that this critical school system needs to ensure a bright future for all of Los Angeles’ children.