The strike officially began on Monday, January 14, when United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) called for teachers to not go to their schools in order to fight for not only higher pay but also for the improvement of the quality of students’ education and learning environments: smaller class sizes, more nurses, more librarians, more counselors, regulation of charter schools, and reduction in standardized testing. This event markedly affected about 500,000 students in the nation’s second largest school district. After six official days, on Tuesday evening, January 22, the strike came to an end when UTLA and LAUSD reached a tentative deal that addressed the issues of class sizes, nurses, counselors, and salaries.
Many parents complained about their children not getting the education they needed because of the absence of teachers. Even LAUSD students, like me, worried about not learning, especially when AP exams were upcoming this May. However, it was ultimately a victory for the students.
On Friday morning, January 18, teachers, parents, and students from North Hollywood High School, Walter Reed Middle School, and Colfax Charter Elementary School formed a two-mile human chain down Colfax Avenue. In solidarity, we held hands and chanted endlessly. Many cars driving by honked in support. The whole street was covered in red, and it was truly an amazing experience to see how a small, diverse community in the valley could come together to fight for the same cause.
After, we all took the metro and headed towards Downtown to join the rally at the Los Angeles City Hall. At every stop, people in red holding signs hopped into the subway, and we all waited in anticipation to arrive Downtown. Getting off the metro and leaving the station, I was tremendously shocked at the scene before me: there were hundreds of people streaming out of the cars, walking and chanting in union, with passionate smiles on their faces. We were greeted by a wave of red surrounding City Hall. Music played by band and orchestra teachers filled the air. Everywhere we looked, we saw bright posters: “On strike for our students,” “Invest in education, Invest in the future,” “Fund our schools…” It was a beautiful sight, seeing how so many people, specifically our teachers, cared for the education of the students, and so they were willing to sacrifice so much and strike for our future.
Being a LAUSD student since the grade of kindergarten, this strike was very important to me. I saw my classes getting bigger every year. It became harder to meet my counselors due to the overwhelming number of students they had. Fortunately, I’ve always had the nurses and librarians present daily at school, but students from other schools, especially in elementary schools, didn’t have these necessary resources. Just the last school year, a charter school asked to share our campus with them, but if our school already didn’t have enough space in classrooms and resources for our own students, how would we be able to provide for the students of another school?
With all these ravaging issues, I believe that it was crucial for the strike to take place, as it was ultimately for the students of the future, and I am tremendously grateful for the courage displayed by my teachers. They taught us to stand up for what is right.
Noorim Oh, Grade 11
North Hollywood High School