Skip to main content
UTLA Teachers Striking

Picket lines across LA County persevere despite the rain, for student and teacher rights

Any other day of the year, most Angelenos wouldn’t be caught dead in the rain, but today they let cold water soak their clothes as they picketed outside Los Angeles public schools. Teachers, students, parents, and community allies came out with signs, umbrellas, and megaphones to make their voices heard.

The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) teacher strike is motivating these picket lines on this rainy Monday. But what’s motivating UTLA to strike? Lots of things, and they all center around creating better resources for students: More funding for smaller class sizes; full-time nurses, librarians, and counselors on campuses; and a reduction in standardized tests, just to name a few reasons for today’s strike.

“The lack of respect our school district is showing for [our students] and their needs is just downright disgusting,” special education teacher James McVay said, as his umbrella nearly blew away in the rain.

Teachers on the picket line emphasized that more than anything, the strike is more about educational quality for students than it is about anything else.

Teachers on the picket line emphasized that more than anything, the strike is more about educational quality for students than it is about anything else.

“We’re trying to voice our opinion, we’re trying to get more support for our students, lower our class sizes, get some pay—because we’re not getting enough money, we’re underpaid, and we haven’t gotten a raise in a few years, and cost of living is higher every day,” North Hollywood High School bilingual coordinator Ruby Castillo said about her motivation for striking today. But she added, it’s not all about her and her colleagues; the students are at the crux of why she was on the picket line. “We’re trying to get more support for the students, more nurses, psychologists, counselors. Overall, we’re here for the students.”

Students out in the cold supporting their teachers’ rights to strike also recognized that this strike is about them, and about making sure their rights to education are supported by their school district. They had done their own research outside the classroom, and had facts to back it up. North Hollywood High School 11th grader Claire, and 10th grader Analise, mentioned that they were frustrated California spends more money on prison inmates than on students in K-12 education.

“We’re all fighting for education, we want to improve our system,” Analise said. “It’s really problematic that we spend more money on prison inmates than we do on children learning, which are the future.”

utla strike 722
Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Tenth grader Katherine added that she wants to support her teachers, who have always been there for her.

“LAUSD has never done their students any favors,” she said. “So I think that when our teachers need support for their students, we should be there for them like they are for us.”

When asked about how most of the students were learning about the strike, and digesting this information, North Hollywood High Spanish teacher Ester De La Fuente said that she encourages her students to inform themselves, so they can make their own informed decisions about what they think is right.

“We are living in a world where technology is very important. We are teaching them not to believe what they are being told, but what they find out on their own, because it is important for them to make up their own conclusions about everything in life,” she said. “I tell my kids… inform yourself, because information is powerful.”

Just down the street from North Hollywood High, elementary-age kids wearing rain boots up to their knees picketed with their parents, chanting and marching in front of Colfax Elementary as cars honked their horns in support.

Susie Kheel, the mother of a kindergartener at Colfax Elementary, hopes that the younger kids affected by the strike will see that their parents support their teachers, and that the strike is to support their future, to give them the best possible education.

Kheel said she was on the picket line supporting the teachers and all they are negotiating for in their contracts.

“There are a lot of parents supporting our teachers, and not just ours, but teachers all over the district, kids all over the district. It’s a community effort,” she said.

Community allies from local unions, such as IATSE 728, came out to show their support for teachers, parents, and students on the picket line today, as did other neighbors of these schools. No successful negotiations have been made up to this point between UTLA and LAUSD, but as today demonstrated, rain or shine, UTLA supporters will be outside, showing their support for teacher rights.

Rebecca Gross

Rebecca Gross