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UTLA Teachers on Strike Share their Stories [Vlog]


#1 Elementary School Teacher | Dolores Huerta Elementary

ME: I just thought for the longest time that education was broken. And I grew up in the city and I grew up gong to public schools and

I'm so excited that for the first time in my lifetime - in 30 years, that's how old I am - there's a huge strike and there's action.

You're wearing a Superman cape, and I'm looking for people to talk to

TEACHER: That's right, well, first of all let me clarify that.

Education is not broken. What is broken is the systemic practices of LAUSD.

In education we are doing everything that is in our hands to move forward our children, our students.

We’re trying to set an equal platform so that all of us will be able to teach and have our students succeed.

ME: You’re an elementary school teacher. What are your demands?

TEACHER: Simple. Give us a nurse, give us a psychologist, reduce the amount of students per classroom, and 6% raise.

ME: Do you think that today’s negotiations will be successful, and do you think the strike will be over soon?

TEACHER: I don’t know if today is the day, but it will happen.

This, all of this, all of this you see around, is who we are. And one way or another things are going to change.

ME: Awesome, thank you so much. What school are you representing here?

TEACHER: Dolores Huerta Elementary


#2 Middle School Science Teacher | Bret Harte Middle

TEACHER: Let’s see, which question I’m going to start with…”What’s the struggle?”

I go in a classroom and I’m supposed to teach science. There's over 35 kids, half of them have serious behavior problems.

And I’m supposed to have a lab with chemicals?

No. Not happening, ok. I’m not putting my credential on the line for that.

ME: What school are you in?

TEACHER: Bret Hart Middle School.

They even sent me a thing, wanting to know if I wanted to help them do dissections, help the kids do dissections.

I said, “You must be crazy if you think I’m going to put a sharp instrument in their hands. Not happening.”

I buy all the supplies. So we did do a rocket launch, you know, but I bought all of what we needed like baking soda, vinegar, all that kind of stuff.

It wasn’t cheap because you buy a lot, I have five classes to do it for.

And any of the labs we have, most of the time I buy all of the supplies. I buy all of the paper every year.

I’m not the only teacher that does this.

I thought that I was spending a lot of money, there was a teacher on Facebook talking about, both him and his wife are teachers, and they’re spending $67,000 a year!

I said no way. I can’t believe it!

But the district then is saving themselves money by putting the supplies on to the teachers. So that’s like an extra tax on us.

So then they think we don’t need a raise, and housing is going up? I have had to move all the way to Santa Clarita.

An hour and a half drive to work, and hour and a half drive home, because this was the cheapest place I can find!

And I don’t have a second, this is me, that’s it. Some people do have two salaries, a husband, I don’t.

So, that means everything I spend I have to decide is that going to come out of food, is it going to come out of gas? I mean, what’s it going to come out of?

ME: So what are you hoping for as a resolution, I know there’s more meetings today with UTLA and the District.

TEACHER: I’m really hoping that not only will we get a pay raise, but that we’ll get a nurse at the school everyday at school. We have a nurse, one day a week she shows up.

ME: Is it really that important to have nurses at school everyday?

TEACHER: Well let’s put it this way, we have kids who have diabetes, what if they have a problem and there’s no nurse there, don’t look at me?

What if we have a kid who falls down and seriously injures themselves? I mean they do some stupid stuff. How many people are going handle a serious injury like that?

They have to wait for emergency, ER, to get there. I don’t know but I think a few parents will be very upset if they have to be in that situation.

ME: School counselors, they seem like they’re so massively overwhelmed.

TEACHER: Yeah they are. Our school counselors have about 600 kids each. And that’s way too many, and that’s just the school counselors so they’re doing scheduling and stuff.

But what the kids at our school really need are psychological counselors.

What kind of psychological trauma does a kid have if they’re homeless? If they’re in foster care? Or you don’t know if they’re getting beaten up?

We had one girl last year, a couple kids from foster care, came into the classroom and started beating on her. This is crazy stuff, so the kids need counseling, and they don’t get it.

We have boys that have serious problems. They need counseling.

So we’re going to defer this, until they get out of high school, and they’re in the prison system, and they’re sitting there talking about, “Well he’s crazy.”

You knew this was coming. You didn’t deal with it then. So now you’ve got an extra burden.

Spend the money now on education, or spend it later on the prison system and your taxes will go up.

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