Teachers Walk Off The Job to Protest Budget Cuts

Thousands of teachers at hundreds of Los Angeles Unified campuses walked off the job for an hour Friday to protest the state's proposed education cuts. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez attended a rally in L.A.'s Mid City and has this story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: About 150 teachers, students, and parents rallied outside Los Angeles High School.

[Sounds of school protest]

Guzman-Lopez: The teachers union called the district-wide action "One Hour's Pay for the Kids of L.A." Teachers lost pay for not showing up in the classrooms during first period. It was a worthwhile sacrifice, said United Teachers Los Angeles Vice President Joshua Pechthalt.

Joshua Pechthalt: This morning, more than 30,000 teachers and tens of thousands of parents are out protesting cuts that are going to devastate our schools and the social services that benefit our communities.

Guzman-Lopez: Proposed cuts to the school district, the union says, would add up to $350 million. The governor's office contends that the cuts aren't that deep. The union's planned a protest for months. Disagreement between the union and L.A. Unified Superintendent David Brewer boiled over this week.

School district lawyers filed two unsuccessful legal motions to stop the walk out. They argued that the action would jeopardize student safety. Local district superintendent Michelle King's office monitors Los Angeles High School.

Michelle King: That was our number one concern, is to ensure that all students would be safe on campus. Which is one of the main reasons we were certainly in opposition to anything that would jeopardize student safety on our campuses.

Guzman-Lopez: Many L.A. Unified students spent first period at auditorium assemblies, supervised by staff and school administrators. King said that about half of Los Angeles High's 3,000 students didn't show up to their first class of the day.

Outside school, a senior named Jennifer who didn't want to give her last name arrived about an hour late to campus. She said that earlier this week, teachers offered instructions about today's walk out.

Jennifer: To come late, to come at 8:40 because they're going to be some, they're going to be doing that.

Guzman-Lopez: Two other students said teachers had told them the same thing. An L.A. High history instructor denied that teachers gave students any such directions, as did teachers union president A.J. Duffy.

A.J. Duffy: I'll call the chapter chair and the co-chair at L.A. High and ask them if there's any credence to that.

Guzman-Lopez: Sacramento distributes school district funding based on student attendance, so absences will mean less money for schools, on top of state budget cuts if lawmakers approve the proposed reductions.

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