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LA Unified prepares for Trump inauguration, declares ‘Unity Day’

Sarah Favot | January 18, 2017

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San Diego, California, USA - May 27, 2016: Latinos against Donald Trump march behind a banner of unity outside a Trump rally held at the San Diego Convention Center.

Latinos against Donald Trump march behind a banner of unity outside a Trump rally held at the San Diego Convention Center last May.

In preparation for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, LA Unified has declared Friday “Unity Day.” In addition, a district official said LA Unified will be prepared for any potential policy changes under the new Trump Administration and any resulting loss of federal funding.

Pedro Salcido of LA Unified’s Office of Government Relations said the district is tracking how Trump’s decisions on key issues might impact the district’s budget.

“I think we have to be ready that there could be some impacts to our programs,” Salcido said.

He said about $700 million of the district’s $7.6 billion budget is funded by the federal government, which includes Title I and other entitlement programs.

The district announced Tuesday that it will encourage students to participate in the civic-engagement process and will promote schools as safe and appropriate venues for “meaningful dialogue about the presidential election.”

The district’s Office of Human Relations, Diversity and Equity has prepared lesson plans, activities and other resources to allow students to express themselves, including unity dances, poster sessions and restorative justice circles.

“We hope that students will take advantage of these lessons, discussions and other Unity Day activities that will allow them to participate in the civic-engagement process during the school day,” Superintendent Michelle King said in a statement. “We want students to feel part of their school, their community and their country.”

A free resource hotline is also available at 866-842-2273.

In the days following Trump’s victory on Nov. 8, thousands of LA-area high school students walked out of class in protest.

It is estimated that about one-fourth of LA Unified’s 660,000 students are undocumented or have a family member with that status. Fears have been widespread throughout the district about statements that Trump made during his campaign about immigration.

City News Service reported Wednesday that dozens of community organizations will march in downtown Los Angeles on Friday to protest Trump’s inauguration, with thousands expected.

LA Unified officials have encouraged students not to walk out during school hours and plan protests on campus in coordination with school officials.

The teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, on Thursday is planning a “Tweetstorm” against Trump and will hold protests before school at Grand View Boulevard Elementary in Mar Vista and Arleta High School.

Teachers will use the hashtag #SchoolTrump to share “what they will fight for, and defend their school against” at Trump’s Twitter account, according to UTLA.

The protests will not only focus on Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric but will also support “the fight to protect schools from privatization and union busting.”

“With the incoming administration, if we are to believe what Trump says, the very existence of public education is under threat,” UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl said in a statement. “On Thursday, we reaffirm our beliefs in the power of public education, and we stand with our students, parents and community members to say that no matter where you come from, rich or poor, when you walk through the door of a public school, you will have equal opportunities for success and a quality education.”

Also happening in Washington, D.C., this week was the confirmation hearing for Trump’s education secretary-nominee, Betsy DeVos.

LA Unified school board President Steve Zimmer took the opportunity during Tuesday’s Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee meeting to speak out against DeVos’ nomination.

“In a few hours we will hear a completely different assessment of public education in Washington and that kind of take on education and teachers has infiltrated popular culture,” he said. “What we need to do is broadcast a different narrative of the future of the teaching profession. If the heart and soul of what the perceptions are about teachers and urban public schools is not changed, our best efforts are Band-Aids, not solutions.”

Zimmer also wrote about DeVos in his newsletter.

“DeVos’ lack of experience makes her completely unqualified to be secretary of education,” he stated. “DeVos’ record insults our leaders, our school leaders, our parents, and our kids.”

UTLA is also opposed to DeVos’ nomination.

On Wednesday, parent group Speak UP called on Zimmer to stand with Rep. John Lewis and other members of Congress, including California’s Ted Lieu, who have decided not to attend Trump’s inauguration. Nick Melvoin, who is opposing Zimmer in the school board race, Tweeted Tuesday that he stands with Lewis.

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