Educators from across the state held events yesterday to call on school districts to support and expand community schools, which lead to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities.
Events continue today to shine a light on the successful community school model, which includes educators, students, district management, parents and community in shared decision-making to determine individual, school and community needs, and how funding is allocated.
“Community schools are collaboratively imagined and democratically run public schools designed to meet the unique needs of local students. Through authentic governance structures and a bottom-up approach, educators, students, parents and community organizations utilize a model of shared decision making to provide academic, emotional and community support for student success,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “Today’s actions across California show that educators are deeply committed to community schools, and that they are standing up to ensure their voices and those of parents, students and the community are heard.”
Oakland Rallies for Community Schools, Good-Faith Bargaining
More than 1,000 Oakland educators, students, parents and community rallied at Oakland’s Lake Merritt, calling on Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) management to negotiate fairly around safe, stable and racially just community schools.
Instead of attending a district professional development meeting, Oakland Education Association (OEA) members rallied to demand that OUSD listen to the concerns of educators who are advocating for the best resources for students.
“Our students need experienced educators and strong community schools; anything less than this is a disservice to them,” said Interim OEA President Ismael Armendariz. “Just four years ago, our historic 2019 strike won major victories. Now, we are bargaining for a new contract to build on those wins. OUSD has ignored us at the bargaining table, let’s see them try to ignore us in the streets!”
Sacramento Educators Hold Forum on Community Schools
Educators and parents from four Sacramento-area local associations (Sacramento City Teachers Association, Folsom-Cordova Education Association, Natomas Teachers Association, Twin Rivers United Educators) held a community forum calling on those respective districts to establish nationally recognized shared-governance models that are the heart of successful community schools.
UTLA to Honor SEIU Local 99’s Picket during Three-Day Strike
At a massive rally in downtown Los Angeles March 15, UTLA President Cecily Myart-Cruz stood onstage with SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias to announce a three-day Unfair Labor Practice strike beginning March 21. UTLA will honor the picket line of SEIU 99, which represents about 30,000 teachers’ aides, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and other support staff at L.A. Unified School District, as both unions fight back against months of stalled negotiations by district management.
The rally, held in downtown Los Angeles’s Grand Park and in front of historic L.A. City Hall, drew thousands of certificated and classified LAUSD employees as well as community supporters. The event was among multiple events taking place throughout the state yesterday with direct ties to CTA’s priority issue of Community Schools. UTLA’s bargaining proposals include language expanding community schools and providing resources for family/community/youth engagement and wrap-around services, as well as additional funding for special education and the Black Student Achievement Program.
The two striking LAUSD unions will have plenty of support. CTA President E. Toby Boyd, Vice President David Goldberg, AFT President Randi Weingarten, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Yvonne Wheeler, and leaders from multiple other unions took the stage to show solidarity with UTLA and SEIU Local 99 as they join together in a massive show of strength and solidarity.
“This is our moment. This is what solidarity looks like,” Myart-Cruz told the crowd. “UTLA stands with SEIU!”
San Diego Education Association Rallies for Community-Centered Contract
After a week of rallies, San Diego Education Association’s (SDEA’s) Recover, Rebuild, and Rise Together organizing campaign has brought to light the demand for additional student support that every San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) student needs to succeed. Across the city, parents, students and educators mobilized at well over 100 school sites to show they are committed to school improvement.
Backed by the input and strength of thousands of San Diego Unified educators and professional support, SDEA is currently negotiating a contract that would ensure long-term improvements for students, schools and the community.
SDEA’s bargaining goals are community-centered, with a plan to improve schools as they meet the needs of each neighborhood with programs that nourish and improve every student in SDUSD. To do so, SDEA has proposed doubling elementary enrichment classes, like music and art, and class size limits that ensure additional individualized instruction time for students. SDEA has also proposed full-time counselors at every elementary school and a full-time nurse at every high school to provide the much-needed supports students need and deserve.
SDEA wants to be sure students and the educators who are charged with their safety, are indeed safe in SDUSD schools. Prioritizing school perimeters and controlled points of entry at every site brings peace of mind to educators, students and parents.
Increased support for special education staff is also a priority and underscores the need to fight for a fair pay raise. The local cost of living has worsened the already existing staffing shortage, creating a challenge of attracting new educators to teaching while also keeping veteran educators from leaving the profession.
Despite substantial funding increases that could make these goals a reality for San Diego students, SDUSD has yet to reach an agreement with SDEA on these badly needed improvements for schools. SDEA will continue to organize around the goals established in their Recover, Rebuild, and Rise Together organizing campaign until it reaches a settlement that will meet the existing expectations of our outstanding educators, while ensuring that a fair salary from SDUSD will attract future educators for our city schools.