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  • Building the Power to Reclaim Our Schools Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles, United Teachers Los Angeles, and the Collaboration Behind the 2019 Teachers Strike

    JULY 2019

  • Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles, United Teachers Los Angeles and the Collaboration Behind the 2019 Teachers Strike

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

    This case study was commissioned by Reclaim Our Schools LA and written by Leigh Dingerson. Many

    thanks to the parents, students, educators, and organizers who contributed. These include, from UTLA:

    Alex Caputo-Pearl, UTLA President; Esperanza Martinez, Parent/Community Organizer; Anna Bakalis,

    Communications Director, and Grace Regullano, Research and Analytics Director. Teacher members Rosa

    Jimenez and Noah Lippe-Klein; AFT community engagement coordinator and ROSLA Director Sharon

    Delugach; Students Deserve Leaders Marshé Doss, Cheyenne McLaren, and Jaime Lee; ACCE Organizing

    Director Amy Schur; ACCE Parent Organizers Martha Sanchez and Cesar Castrejon; and Parent Leaders

    Ruby Gordillo, Maria Osorio, and Silvia Venegas; LAANE Executive Director Roxana Tynan and Campaign

    Director Rudy Gonzalves; Senior Organizer Albert Ramirez; Senior Communications Specialist Haley

    Potiker; and Research/Policy Analyst Edgar Ortiz; UCLA Labor Center’s Betty Hung; Eric Zachary with

    the American Federation of Teachers; Kyle Serrette with the National Education Association and Donald

    Cohen with In the Public Interest.

    Special thanks to LAANE’s Haley Potiker, Edgar Ortiz and Rudy Gonzalves for their careful copyediting

    of the document. Thanks to Terry Lutz: Graphic Design for design. Thank you to United Teachers Los

    Angeles for printing.

  • Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles, United Teachers Los Angeles and the Collaboration Behind the 2019 Teachers Strike

    CONTENTS

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Los Angeles Unified School System — Broke on Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Reclaim Our Schools LA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 What has Changed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Keys to Victory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

    INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

    THE SETTING: A SCHOOL SYSTEM UNDER ATTACK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Privatization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

    THE PLAYERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 A Union Committed to Transformation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Reclaim our Schools Los Angeles (ROSLA) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

    THE CAMPAIGN FOR THE SCHOOLS LA STUDENTS DESERVE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Building a Shared Analysis and Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

    Bargaining for the Common Good . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

    Creating a Platform Grounded in Lived Experiences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20

    Research Supports Platform Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

    Leadership Development and Grassroots Voice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

    Activating Unorganized Parents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

    Communications and Analytics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

    Bold and Escalating Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

    THE STRIKE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 “La Escuelita de Lideres” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Maintaining Control of the Message . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 A Settlement is Reached . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 What Has Changed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Keys to Victory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

    ENDNOTES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44

    APPENDIX A: ROSLA Anchor Groups . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45

    APPENDIX B: Bargaining for the Common Good . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48

    APPENDIX C: UTLA Strike 2019: What was Won . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54

  • Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles, United Teachers Los Angeles and the Collaboration Behind the 2019 Teachers Strike

  • BUILDING THE POWER TO RECLAIM OUR SCHOOLS

    Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles, United Teachers Los Angeles and the Collaboration Behind the 2019 Teachers Strike 1

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    The six-day strike by United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) in January 2019 took the “RedForEd” teacher protest movement to a new level . Early RedForEd walk-outs took place in 2018 in predominantly Republican states—Arizona, West Virginia,

    Oklahoma—signaling a new willingness by educators to fight back against ongoing financial and political

    attacks on their public schools .

    The Los Angeles strike was the first to take place in a deeply “blue” state . It mobilized tens of thousands

    of Angelenos—parents, students, and community members as well as teachers—over a period of six rainy

    days, to express their unambiguous commitment to public education in their city .

    The LA strike resulted in a stunning array of substantive victories well beyond the scope of a typical labor

    agreement . The daily experience of LA teachers and students will change for the better because of the

    strike . But the ramifications of the strike go much further: it has helped to shift the narrative on public