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An L.A. teachers’ strike is the only thing that will get Sacramento’s attention

An L.A. teachers’ strike is the only thing that will get Sacramento’s attention
Alma Lucatero, a teacher at Nevin Elementary School in South Los Angeles, walks across Wilshire Boulevard with other UTLA members after picking up signs and materials for the scheduled teachers' strike. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Both an editorial and the op-ed article by Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Austin Beutner on Jan. 9 express the hope that teachers will decide not to strike on Monday by accepting the premise that there is not enough funding for the improvements in public school education that the teachers are demanding. Both want United Teachers Los Angeles and LAUSD to lobby Sacramento for more funds.

The sad truth is that the strategy of acquiescing to state underfunding of public education over past decades has led us to the disgrace that California’s per-pupil spending ranks 43rd in the country when accounting for cost of living, according to Education Week.

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The sadder truth is that without a strike in Los Angeles, Sacramento will continue to ignore the problem. It is a credit to the teachers that they are unwilling to be bought off by personal pay raises if that means schools will still lack the resources necessary to support high-quality education.

Cyril Barnert, Los Angeles

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To the editor: You write, “Los Angeles isn't where the real debate needs to take place,” and, “If [a strike] happens, it will be a mess all around.”

The mess is already all around. Education is not being funded properly and the system works for the benefit of middle-class and upper-class students.

You ignore the fact that strikes have traditionally been a nonviolent method of resisting oppressive conditions and correcting unjust policies. If there is no strike, the needed debate will probably not take place anywhere.

Julian Weissglass, Santa Barbara

The writer is a professor emeritus of education at UC Santa Barbara.

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To the editor: Not once, in any article or report on the looming teacher strike, is it mentioned that some teachers themselves lower the bar for student learning.

I tutor L.A. school students. I have 26 years teaching secondary math and social sciences.

It is shameful how weak many of the teachers are that my students must bear. There are no handouts for many assignments, and history is often just dates and people. Math teachers don’t often require student notes. Students, many who struggle with English, are not taught the vocabulary that would enable success.

It is hard for me to support teachers when they strike to get more when they have been offered more.

Brian Miller, Los Angeles

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To the editor: As the parent of a 6th grader at Thomas Starr King Middle School and a 2nd grader at Franklin Avenue Elementary who has volunteered in their classrooms for the past five years, I have seen firsthand how much is asked of our teachers and how limited the support resources are.

The teachers are amazing at their jobs, but must spend way too much time getting the kids to be quiet and focused. In my career I see the critical importance of strong writing and analytical skills, but how can teachers effectively teach these subjects with so many kids in their classrooms?

Let’s use the district’s reserve funds to reduce class sizes immediately and work together to raise per-pupil spending statewide. We are way behind other states in this area.

Cynthia Freeman, Los Feliz

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