UTLA president calls for more money for teachers ‘in a city rife with millionaires’

Alex Caputo-Pearl, head of United Teachers Los Angeles, speaks outside John Marshall High School on Monday morning.
(Robyn Beck / AFP/Getty Images)

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl addressed a crowd of teachers and children through a bullhorn in front of Marshall High School on Monday morning, raising his voice over chants and honking cars as the first teachers strike in 30 years kicked off.

Caputo-Pearl called on federal and state leaders to increase funding for schools, including the sources identified in Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget. He also urged the Los Angeles Unified School District to spend its reserves.

“Here we are on a rainy day in … a state as blue as it can be and in a city rife with millionaires, where teachers have to go on strike” to get basic needs met for children, Caputo-Pearl said. He called on Supt. Austin Beutner: “Do not hoard LAUSD’s reserve in order to move your cuts and privatization agenda.”


Speaking to the children in the crowd, which included his daughter, Caputo-Pearl said: “The next time someone tells you that you are the future, tell them to prove it to you by investing in you.”

To teachers, he said: “Feel your power. Feel your organized power, feel your pride. ...Until we get the district to reinvest in our kids, chant on that picket line with pride.”

State and national union leaders, including Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, joined Caputo-Pearl at the news conference to express support as people continued to chant and drum in front of the school.

“The eyes of the nation are watching, and educators and nurses … all over the country have the backs of the educators in L.A.,” Weingarten said. “We need the conditions to ensure that every child … gets the opportunity he or she or they deserve.”

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At one point during the news conference, a police officer pushed through the crowd of picketers, journalists and students, escorting inside two students trying to enter Marshall High School.

Watching the speakers shortly before 8 a.m., three seniors debated whether they should go inside, too. Reese Navarrette, 18, said his father told him he didn’t mind if he came home early. Navarrette said he was considering going in to check out the scene; he thought he could be marked down for attendance and then come back outside to join the picketers before heading home.

The group of seniors were told they would be in the arts building on campus on Monday and would receive lectures. But they doubted it would happen.

Navarrette said he supported the teachers: “They need to get paid more.”

He noted he had 47 kids in his music class — and that’s too many, he said.

The latest on the LAUSD teachers’ strike »

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