The LAUSD strike on Monday left thousands of parents unsure of what to do with their children — take them to school, where they were likely be herded into large rooms without their teachers, or let them stay home?
Instead, many went with a third option and took their kids to the picket lines to join teachers, whether the kids wanted to go or not.
Perla Flores, a 33-year-old stay-at-home mom, made the teachers’ strike a teaching moment. She trailed the picketers at El Sereno Middle School with her two children and her husband in tow. Her third child, baby Mateo, was strapped to her chest with a sling. Mateo peeked out from under a yellow and black “Minions”-themed beanie with a finger in his mouth.
Flores carried a pink, checkered umbrella in one hand and, in the other, a sign that read: "Estamos con los maestros de Los Angeles!" (“We’re with the teachers of Los Angeles.”)
She said she brought her kids because she wanted to support teachers.
“One person shouldn’t have to handle 40 kids,” Flores said. “I have three kids and I can only just handle that. How can a teacher with 30 kids be expected to teach well and help every student?”
Marco Torres, Flores’ 12-year-old son, said he didn’t mind the gloomy weather. Bundled up in a red sweatshirt and holding an umbrella, he agreed with his mother. “I really want a good future, so I want the strike to go on,” he said. “The teachers want smaller classes — a big class is a lot.”
Flores said her children were scared of how long they might be out of school. But she said she was excited for them to witness this historic moment, even though “it shouldn’t be a historic moment.”
Another mother, Cherie Sanchez, looked to her son and daughter, huddled in pink and green raincoats. She gave her son a nod and asked him, “What are we trying to do, Rocco?”
“I have a bad memory mom,” the 10-year-old responded. But then he recited from memory: “We want to get a raise for teachers, smaller class sizes, more teachers, credentialed nurses.”
Rocco said his parents had been glued to the television and their smartphones for months, looking for news about negotiations between LAUSD and the teachers union.
Sanchez, 48, works as an account manager for a software company but says she’s planning to take time off to take care of her kids at home during the teachers’ strike. Her spouse is a special education teacher for LAUSD, she said, and so she has been steeling for this strike for months.
“Public schools are expected to support special needs students but without the resources to do so,” Sanchez said. “For me, the problem is the privatization of charter schools, and the large class sizes. I want smaller class sizes for my kids.”
She plans to bring her children out with her every morning to picket and then have them read books at home. “I’m lucky,” she said. “I have a flexible schedule. Not every parent is so fortunate.”
At Farmdale Elementary, adjacent to El Sereno Middle School, Leticia Martinez, 24, did her best to support L.A. teachers on the picket line. But her 3-year-old, Audrina, wasn’t as thrilled.
”She’s a little upset,” Martinez said, her daughter clinging to her. “It’s cold and it’s raining. She’s tired.”