Reprinted from The Washington Post by Valerie Strauss on December 31, 2019.
With teachers vowing to strike on January 10 if a new contract is not reached with the Los Angeles Unified School District, officials are taking steps to keep schools open, including hiring hundreds of nonunion substitute teachers to fill in for educators walking picket lines.
Superintendent Austin Beutner, a former investment banker, said the district, which is the country’s second largest, with more than 640,000 students, was hiring about 400 substitutes to keep schools open. The Los Angeles Daily News quoted him as saying:
“We have hired substitutes, we have made plans as to alternate curriculums for days that there is a strike but our goal is to make sure schools are safe and open so kids continue to learn. My concern first and foremost is the safety and well being of our students.”
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing some 34,000 educators (including substitutes) in the district, bashed the move, releasing a statement that says in part:
It is outrageously irresponsible for Superintendent Austin Beutner to force this strike when the district holds $1.9 billion in reserves and it is even more irresponsible to think that 400 substitutes can educate more than 600,000 students. We believe that it is illegal for the district to hire people outside our bargaining unit to teach in LAUSD classrooms. …