United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), which has about 35,000 members in second largest K-12 district in the nation, has set January 10 as the start date of their first strike in 30 years if contract talks between the union and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) do not resolve the current stalemate over funding issues, including pay rises, class sizes, and the “charterization” of the District’s schools—about 20% of Los Angeles students are enrolled in charter schools, more than any other district in the nation.
LAUSD enrolls more than 650,000 students at over 900 schools, over 710 square miles. The ethnic composition of the LAUSD student population is primarily Latino (73.4%); the remainder are African American (10.0%), White (8.8%), Asian (3.9%), Filipino (2.2%), Pacific Islander (.04%), American Indian (.04%) and two or more races, not Latino, (1%). In all, 92 languages other than English are spoken in LAUSD schools. The District has over 160,000 English language learner students. Their primary languages are Spanish (93.4%), Korean (1.1%), and Armenian (1.1%) with Tagalog, Cantonese, Arabic, Vietnamese and Russian each accounting for less than 1% of the total.
The District claims that said that giving in to union demands would bankrupt it and lead to teacher layoffs, while UTLA disagrees, saying that the District is holding on to $1.9 billion in unrestricted reserves that schools desperately need.