Members of the public joined United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) in a massive protest Thursday, responding to the L.A. Unified School District board’s proposed cuts to adult education funding. Protesters claim the cuts will virtually eliminate programs across Southern California.
"They’re really slamming the door on people’s dreams," said Matthew Kogan, an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at Evans Community Adult School and chair of the Adult Education Committee for UTLA.
"These people aspire to better jobs, they aspire to be part of their children’s education. It really means a lot to them," Kogan said. "When I say that [John] Deasy and Mónica [García] don’t understand, I really mean it."
Over 2,000 protesters showed up on the corner of 3rd Street and Beaudry Avenue, and the crowd quickly took over the whole road up to Boylston Street. Members held up signs and chanted slogans like "Si Se Puede!"
Dozens of LAPD officers and cars scrambled to deal with traffic, rerouting masses of cars away from 3rd Street. Kogan said that rally leaders had attempted to warn the LAPD about the crowd, but never heard back.
"They should have returned our calls," said Kogan. "We knew it would be a very big rally."
Adult education programs — including high school completion programs, ESL classes and career preparatory courses — serve about 350,000 students across Los Angeles.
The latest budget proposal presented to the LAUSD board in January included $0 for the $120 million Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE).
Kogan and others at the UTLA say they have gathered over 200,000 signatures for a petition against the proposed cuts.