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20,000 expected to ‘walk in’ at LAUSD schools Wednesday morning

Mike Szymanski | February 16, 2016

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Alex Caputo-Pearl strike talks UTLA

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl

More than 20,000 parents, students and teachers in LA Unified are expected to stage a “Walk-In” before school on Wednesday orchestrated by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools to protest charter expansion and call for greater investment in public education.

“We have coordinated this with the school district and the superintendent’s office,” said Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, which is leading the LA part of the nationwide protest.

In fact, Superintendent Michelle King will be attending one of the demonstrations at Hamilton High School in West Los Angeles along with school board president Steve Zimmer and vice president George McKenna as well as American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.

The purpose of the demonstration, they said, is “to fight back corporate privatization and stand up for fully-funded public education; to reclaim the promise of public education in LA.”

Specifically, their mission is to protest the proposed Greater Public Schools Now (GPS Now), which plans a major expansion of school funding and an increase in charter schools for the area. “We reject Broad-Walmart’s plan to undermine LAUSD,” according to the mission statement. “We call on Broad and the Waltons to pay their fair share in taxes to support quality schools that serve all students.”

King issued a statement saying, “Great progress is taking place in our classrooms and schools, thanks to the thousands of talented and dedicated teachers in LA Unified. The United Teachers Los Angeles ‘Walk-in’ will take place before the start of the school day on Feb. 17, allowing our employees to celebrate their success without disrupting the teaching and learning process. We are grateful to our teachers and join with them in recognizing their pride and enthusiasm for their work.”

UTLA’s website included a sign-up list and offered information tools and flyers to print out at the 70 school sites.

The flyers they plan to hand out to parents, staff and community members state, “We stand together—parents, educators, students, school staff and community organizations—to send a strong message to policymakers and billionaires like Eli Broad that public education is NOT for sale. We are reclaiming our school and committing to work in solidarity to ensure that our school serves the needs of its community.”

Maria Palma was incensed when her child brought home a flyer asking her to attend a meeting after the demonstration at the San Jose Elementary and Highly Gifted Magnet School in Mission Hills. She complained to her school principal and district representatives.

The communication is disrespectful to families in our community since it does not clearly state the issues at stake or the political agenda that is behind the ‘Walk-In,'” Palma said in an email. “With the event framed as a school-sponsored activity, it creates a situation where children may feel marginalized if their families choose not to attend, or participate in opposition to the political messages behind the event. It is inappropriate for a public school to advocate a political agenda.”

Palma said she is not going to send her child to school on Wednesday because of the event.

The alliance of parents, youth, community organizations and labor groups said they would be holding demonstrations the same day in 19 other cities at school districts facing similar issues, including Chicago, Milwaukee, San Diego, Dallas and Baltimore.

The demonstration is expected to last 30 to 45 minutes and will end before school begins.

“Given the never-ending attacks on public education that many of our cities endure, this provides a positive action that says that these are our schools and our communities,” the “Walk-In” flyer states.

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