LAUSD to See a World Without Teachers


Van Nuys’ teachers picket in front of the school. A repeat of this scenario is highly probable on January 14.

By Zoe Rodriguez

It’s been three decades since LAUSD’s 1,000 campuses have had to deal with the logistics of a full work stoppage of its 30,000 teachers. Barring a last-minute settlement, teachers will leave their classrooms and will picket to compel the district to meet UTLA’s demands.

In the midst of understanding what is happening, many have overlooked what the dispute is really about and how we have arrived at this impasse.

Overall Dispute

LAUSD claims to be running out of money, going so far as to have LA County financial advisors corroborate their claim that if it agrees to UTLA’s demands, it will go bankrupt.

UTLA disputes this. They believe that LAUSD is not admitting to all the money they truly have. UTLA also has its hopes set on LAUSD’s reserve of $1.9 billion. UTLA believes that this reserve can, and should, be used to pay for the union’s demands, but the district has already made plans for how, and where, much of it will be spent.

Big Ticket Demands

Higher Salaries

UTLA is requesting a 6.5 percent raise for all staff members retroactively from June 2017 to June 2020.

LAUSD estimates this would cost $189 million/year and had originally greatly opposed this point because of its high price tag. In more recent offers, LAUSD has actually nearly met the union’s requests. They increased their salary offer to 6 percent and dropped the condition that these raises would only hold so long as the district’s finances remained healthy.

But that still did not resolve this issue as UTLA rejected this proposal, claiming that it is a “Trojan Horse”-a way to get them to settle without having to hear their other major concerns.

Smaller Class Size

UTLA requested that LAUSD remove the provision in their contract that allows the district to ignore rules about class size limits and although LAUSD agreed to this, they required it to be replaced with new conditions regarding class size.

This has left the two groups at an impasse as UTLA believes that these new conditions would actually make it easier for the district to increase class sizes in the future. In addition, UTLA doesn’t want to simply prevent future class growth, they want to actively decrease current class sizes.

Both proposals require LAUSD to increase the number of teachers per student, meaning that the district’s budget would need a major reworking. LAUSD even estimates that this would cost the district about $200 million per year.

UTLA disagrees with this estimate an instead claims that LAUSD can move the 2,000 credentialed personnel from non-teaching positions into the classroom rather than hiring on new teachers. They claim that this would make their request cost neutral.

More nurses and librarians

UTLA has requested that one full-time nurse be hired on to every LAUSD campus as well as one full-time librarian for every middle and high school in LAUSD. The district estimates that would cost up to $81.5 million/year.

More counselors, social workers and deans

UTLA proposes the addition of new counselors to every secondary school. They want to have at least one Restorative Justice Advisor, Dean, or Social Worker for every 500 students.

LAUSD estimates the cost of this at $247.9 million/year, while UTLA claims that all of its proposals to decrease student to faculty ratios can cost as little as $35 million/year.

Smaller Special Education Caseloads

UTLA has requested a reduction of caseloads for special education teachers. LAUSD then countered this proposal with the suggestion to create a task force to study special education caseloads. They estimate this to be the most expensive request costing the district $263.4 million/year.

If implemented, these requests could add up to $1 billion more than LAUSD’s current budget.

Major Contention, Small Price Tag

Magnet Schools

LAUSD has encouraged the creation of choice schools (themed magnet schools) because they believe they are good way to keep families in the district and stop them leaving for other local options.

UTLA, however, finds issue with this as the conversion of regular schools into magnet schools forces the current teaching staff to reapply for their positions at the new magnet school. The union feels that this is an unfair practice and instead proposes that the district be required to have the approval of 60 percent of UTLA staff before a school can be converted.

LAUSD strongly disagrees with this point as it would greatly limit the amount of magnet choice schools that can be created.


LAUSD currently uses a  three-tiered ranking system that evaluates a teacher on a scale of “Below Standard Performance” to “Exceeds Standard Performance.” The district wants to add a 4th tier for the “highly effective” teachers.

UTLA opposes this as they believe that   it will lead to the linking of a teacher’s salary  with their score in their evaluation, a system known as “merit pay.”

Standardized Testing

UTLA has requested for the removal of district-specific standardized testing. They propose to only require the proctoring of state and federal tests and then allow the teachers to choose which district tests they want to administer to their students.

LAUSD has outright refused this offer, leaving this issue at a complete standstill.

In Conclusion

While it is unclear exactly how many faculty will be available on Monday, the administration has developed a preliminary contingency plan. But no matter what, it will not be business as usual.