The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the largest public school district in California and the second-largest in the United States after the New York City Department of Education. Like any large organization, LAUSD has to negotiate labor agreements with its employees to ensure that everyone is compensated fairly and the district can operate smoothly.
The latest LAUSD bargaining agreement was negotiated between the district and the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union, which represents more than 30,000 teachers, counselors, librarians, and nurses in the district. The negotiations took place against the backdrop of a statewide teacher strike in January 2019, which saw LAUSD teachers walk out of the classroom for six days to demand better pay, smaller class sizes, and more support staff.
The new agreement, which was ratified by UTLA members in May 2019, includes a 6% pay raise for teachers retroactive to July 1, 2018, and a further 3% raise for the 2019-2020 school year. It also includes limits on class sizes, with caps of 24 students in elementary schools and 39 students in secondary schools. The agreement also provides for more support staff, including nurses, counselors, and librarians, as well as funding for community schools and restorative justice programs.
One of the key issues in the negotiations was the role of charter schools in LAUSD. Charter schools are publicly funded schools that operate independently of district regulations and are often run by private companies or non-profit organizations. They have become increasingly controversial in LAUSD and other school districts, with critics arguing that they drain resources from traditional public schools and exacerbate inequalities in education.
The new agreement includes a provision for the UTLA to advocate for a statewide moratorium on new charter schools and for the district to support legislation that would give local school boards more power to regulate them. It also includes language that requires charter schools to follow the same rules as traditional public schools for class size, staffing, and transparency.
The LAUSD bargaining agreement is an important document for anyone interested in education policy and labor relations in California. It reflects the ongoing tensions between charter schools and traditional public schools, as well as the challenges of providing high-quality education for all students in a large and diverse district. As education advocates and policymakers look for ways to improve outcomes for students, they will no doubt continue to debate the role of charter schools and the best ways to support teachers and other education professionals.