Day 2 of the teachers’ strike started drier than the first, but Jennifer Heath, a drama teacher at Burroughs Middle School, was ready for storms. She had gone to an Army Surplus store on Monday night after a day picketing in the rain, and got better gear.
On Tuesday morning, her new green rainproof pants were tucked into tall black rain boots, as she stood at the foot of the steps that lead to the Hancock Park school of about 1,700 students.
Heath said she was worried about the students inside. She got choked up as she spoke about how strange and unnatural it felt for her to be unable to make sure that they were OK.
On Tuesday morning, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner reflected about how Monday went without teachers. About 140,000 students went to school on the first day of the strike, roughly a third of the nearly 500,000 who would’ve attended on a “normal rainy day,” he said at a 7 a.m. news conference. “The strike is clearly having a big impact on the Los Angeles area,” he said.
The poor attendance would cost the district $25 million in state funding. Subtract unpaid wages for the strikers of $10 million, he said, and that amounts to an estimated one-day $15-million loss.
But for Heath and Christina Silva, a special education teacher at Burroughs, the strike is worth the sacrifice.
“We need to invest in public education,” Heath said, holding up a “Fund the Future” sign.
Her golden retriever, Fenton, was on the picket line, too, wearing a red poncho. Next to Fenton was Silva’s maltipoo, Bailey, wearing a bandanna with the words “Strike therapist in training.”
Silva wondered how her students — many of whom have individualized education plans — would fare without the one-on-one attention from teachers or assistance from the aides assigned to them.
“How do we close the achievement gap when we’re out here?” she said. But in the long term, getting smaller classes for her students will help them emotionally and educationally, she said.
One parent brought hot arroz con leche to the picket line, warming the more than two dozen teachers on the picket line at Burroughs. The teachers, who held up their signs and chanted as a steady stream of cars drove up to drop off kids on campus, picketed until 9 a.m. Then they headed downtown for a rally to protest the growing population of charter schools.