LA teachers score victory after short strike


Could this be a template for North Carolina teachers?

Preliminary numbers show that a "vast supermajority" of union members in Los Angeles have voted to approve a deal with the city's school district — ending the six-day teachers strike. The decision means teachers will head back to class on Wednesday.

Some teachers expressed frustration, saying the deal didn't go far enough, while others said they were relieved. "I'm pretty excited," said Jennifer Liebe-Zelazny, a fourth-grade teacher at Alta Loma Elementary School. "Nobody got everything, but everybody got something."

Before you say, "That's one county, not the whole state," LA County has a bigger population (over 10 million) than North Carolina. A more relevant argument against the comparison would be the difference between a genuine union and an association, because a direct action of this magnitude here would have varying consequences depending on where you teach. But when you look at what they achieved in just six days, it might be worth the risk:

UTLA — which represents more than 30,000 teachers and school support staff — is striking for smaller classes, and more nurses, counselors and librarians in schools. District leaders previously said they just didn't have the money to pay for that.

At a news conference announcing the tentative deal, Caputo-Pearl and Beutner said it would increase teachers' salary, reduce class sizes, and put more support staff in schools — though they did not share details.

Caputo-Pearl also mentioned that the agreement touched on special education, standardized testing and keeping charter schools accountable.

The union later posted the tentative agreement online, which included these details, among other things: 6 percent salary increase for teachers. A full-time nurse in every school, five days a week, by 2020-2021 school year. Class size reductions over the next few years — by the 2021-2022 school year, classes will be reduced by four students. Additional counselors and librarians in schools. More "community schools" — the district will designate 30 by mid-2020.

I fully realize that North Carolina is the most anti-union state in the country, and building a consensus to take such an action would be difficult, to say the least. But even having that conversation would send a message, and get a lot of people thinking.