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L.A. Teachers and Students Fight Back

by Carlos Montes |
June 16, 2009
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(Fight Back! News/Carlos Montes)

Commentary

Los Angeles, CA - The Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD) Board voted 4-3 to lay off 2000 teachers and to carry out other cutbacks, forcing the teachers and community to face the brunt of the economic crisis. But the rank-and-file teachers, with student and parent support, have organized a massive fight back campaign. The campaign includes weekly marches, rallies, sit-ins and now a 21-day hunger strike demanding no layoffs, no increases to class size and quality education.  

United Teachers of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles teachers’ union, has been supportive of these actions. The actions led to a partial victory when Superintendent Ray Cortines rescinded 500 of the high school layoffs on June 12. But the fight continues to save the other 1500 elementary school teachers.  

The main demand is that the LAUSD Board reconsider its 4-3 vote to lay off the teachers, reconsider the cutbacks and that they use the federal stimulus money they now have to avoid the cuts. 

The teachers have led daily campouts at local schools, which have majority Latino populations. They have received wide support and are an example to the nation on how communities under attack by the economic crisis and cuts can fight back. Uniting the community of parents, students, teachers, activists and the union to fight - demanding that the crisis be paid for by the rich corporations, high-priced consultants and bureaucrats who milk the LAUSD of its large budget - is a tactic that is having results. 

This fight has also exposed the local non-profit ‘education advocates’ who work with the LAUSD Board members and who have been reluctant to oppose the cutbacks. The struggle for an equal, quality education has been part of the Chicano community history dating back to the historic East Los Angeles High School walkouts, when 10,000 students walked out in the late 1960s demanding an equal education. Today the struggle continues to keep education public and equal for our communities.

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