Friday, June 06, 2008

Judge allows L.A. teachers to protest California education budget

The school district loses a bid to block the demonstration. Teachers can skip the first hour of class while aides and administrators monitor students.

By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 6, 2008

Los Angeles Unified School District officials urged parents to send their
children to class today even though union leaders are encouraging teachers
to skip the first hour of instruction to protest the state's education

"Schools will still be the best place for them to be," Supt. David Brewer
said at a Thursday morning news conference at 10th Street Elementary School.

The Los Angeles Unified School District filed for a temporary restraining
order to block the job action Thursday, but Los Angeles County Superior
Court Judge David P. Yaffe declined the request. Earlier in the week, the
state Public Employment Relations Board also declined to file an injunction
on behalf of the district, which has expressed concern that the
demonstration could endanger students.

"We're pleased that the court understood that the district request was not
reasonable," said teachers union President A.J. Duffy.

District officials said students will wait in cafeterias, auditoriums and
playgrounds and will be overseen by aides, parent volunteers and
administrators as teachers are picketing. School officials plan to deploy an
additional 450 employees from central offices to campuses to help supervise.

The demonstration, organized by United Teachers Los Angeles, is intended to
draw attention to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest budget, which provides
a $193-million increase over last year's $56.6 billion in education funding.
But L.A. Unified estimates that it will face a $353-million shortfall
because the budget does not include a cost-of-living increase and cuts
support to certain programs that will have to be paid with unrestricted
general funds.

Teachers will lose an hour of pay for protesting, which union leaders said
is the best way to draw legislators' attention.

Along with Brewer, state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell asked
all teachers to report to work on time and discuss the state's budget
process with their students instead of picketing. He said he was concerned
about safety and warned that the district could lose revenue if students
don't come to school.

"I understand the level of frustration . . . but we also know our teachers
need to be in class, on track," he said.

The protest comes as the Board of Education prepares to vote on the district
budget Tuesday. District officials have said that they hope to avoid cuts in
the classroom, but that about 6,500 probationary teachers could be laid off,
a possibility that the union has vowed to fight.

Schwarzenegger, who this week had asked teachers to reconsider reporting
late, said he understood their concerns. "He's just as frustrated over the
budget as they are," spokesman Aaron McLear said.

Some parents, like Cindy Kaffen, whose daughter is a second-grader at
Hancock Park Elementary, said they plan to protest with teachers. Kaffen
said she wasn't worried about student safety.

"The district got rid of a crossing guard position, so [students] have to
dodge traffic when they cross the street. . . . I'm really not concerned
about the demonstration," she said.

Duffy said he expects all of his nearly 48,000 members to participate in the
demonstration, but some have said they don't like the idea. "How petty of
those teachers to take away valuable instruction time from students who need
more, not less hours in the classroom," said Scott Krier, a Panorama High
teacher who has been a union member since 1990, in a letter to Duffy this

Teachers and administrators from ... the Compton
Unified School District protest California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's
proposed budget cuts.

Teachers and administrators from ... the Compton
Unified School District protest California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's
proposed budget cuts.

Los Angeles Unified's attempt to halt teacher protest is

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