The forecast for Los Angeles over the next few days: Rainy, windy conditions with a 100-percent chance of inspirational solidarity. Despite soggy weather that would have cancelled recess at schools throughout Los Angeles Unified, poncho-clad educators began walking picket lines before dawn today at more than 900 campuses as the 33,000 members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) went on strike for the first time in 30 years.
Toting umbrellas and picket signs, educators, parents, students and community supporters braved the elements to stand together for the resources schools need and their students deserve. The blustery conditions are forecast to continue for most of the week and if today is any indication, the weather won’t rain on UTLA’s parade. After more than 20 months of fruitless bargaining, nearly 30,000 teachers walked picket lines this morning to fight for the future of Los Angeles public schools, and against billionaires and privatizers who want to dismantle public education in L.A. and across the country.
“Here we are in a fight for the soul of public education,” said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl, marching at John Marshal High School. “The question is do we cut our neighborhood schools so they are starved and privatized, or do we reinvest in our neighborhood schools for our students and for a thriving city? We are here to say from the picket lines of Los Angeles that we choose reinvestment!”
CTA President Eric Heins joined the picket at Marshal High, thanking UTLA educators for standing up for their students and all Los Angeles public schools.
“Every student deserves a quality education regardless of their ZIP Code,” Heins said. “Schools are not banks, children are more than test scores and their teachers deserve respect. CTA is with every single educator making history on the strike line today.”
As usual, teachers were prepared for the wet conditions on the picket lines. Many took advantage of free picket sign laminating offered by an area Lakeshore Learning Store location, while others made their umbrellas into message boards of unity and solidarity. In all, more than 30,000 educators and supporters are estimated to have walked pickets lines this morning, where they will return this afternoon following a rally at Grand Park in Downtown Los Angeles. Initial estimates place the crowd at the march from Grand Park to the L.A. Unified headquarters at 60,000.
Images of supporters wearing #RedForEd and messages of solidarity from around the globe exploded on social media all weekend as UTLA readied for the strike. Join them and send your own goodwill to striking teachers by taking selfies (or groupies) in red and posting to your social media accounts why you support the #UTLAStrong educators. Also, sign the online petition to show you support teachers in Los Angeles and Oakland, and add your message to nearly 2,500 that have poured in from supporters around the world. You can also add a UTLA Facebook frame to your profile photo in solidarity with UTLA and the students of Los Angeles.