LA Unified, teachers’ union reach agreement over distance learning guidelines

Great news—the school board is reminding the parents and students who runs education in Los Angeles.  It is the unions.

“Los Angeles teachers will be able to create their own work schedules and won’t be required to teach classes using live video platforms as part of a tentative agreement reached late Wednesday with the Los Angeles Unified School District on guidelines for delivering distance learning for the rest of the school year in California’s largest school district.

The district and the United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing tens of thousands of district teachers, reached the tentative agreement after days of marathon bargaining sessions, the union said Wednesday night. The district did not immediately return a request for comment or acknowledge the agreement publicly. 

Educators and parents did not make the rules.  Parents had no say.  I was the union—either agree to our conditions or 700,000 students would not get an education while the schools are closed.  In the real world this is called extortion.  When will the parents rebel?  If not now, when?

LA Unified, teachers’ union reach agreement over distance learning guidelines

Agreement allows teachers to create their own schedules and doesn’t require them to use live video.

Michael Burke, EdSource,  4/9/20   

Los Angeles teachers will be able to create their own work schedules and won’t be required to teach classes using live video platforms as part of a tentative agreement reached late Wednesday with the Los Angeles Unified School District on guidelines for delivering distance learning for the rest of the school year in California’s largest school district.

The district and the United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing tens of thousands of district teachers, reached the tentative agreement after days of marathon bargaining sessions, the union said Wednesday night. The district did not immediately return a request for comment or acknowledge the agreement publicly. 

Under the agreement, which expires June 30, teachers will have the flexibility to create their own work schedules while schools are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement states that teachers “shall create, share and follow” a regular weekly schedule that includes teaching and student support. Teachers will be required to provide instruction and student support for four hours daily under the agreement. They will also be required to have three office hours each week. 

The agreement comes against the backdrop of harsh criticism from union leaders that teachers were being “micromanaged” by the district and being subjected to “unfounded directives and time-wasting processes.”

An agreement in the state’s largest district serving 600,000 students will surely act as a guide to districts across California where bargaining is underway with teachers unions on how to carry out distance learning. When state leaders urged districts to end in-person instruction for the rest of the school year as a way to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, they also urged that districts provide quality distance learning programs for the state’s six million students. While the state has pledged support, it has not dictated specifically how those programs will be carried out.

LAUSD has made significant progress in preparing all of its students in the massive district for distance learning but significant challenges remain to reach all students. In an address Monday, Superintendent Austin Beutner outlined that despite spending $100 million on tools and technology, many students, especially those in the elementary grades, won’t have what they need to engage in online learning until May.

Meanwhile, teachers will be encouraged, but not required, to use live video platforms such as Zoom as part of their teaching.

The two sides came to the agreement after weeks of bargaining that featured 30 hours of negotiations this week, including 15 hours on Tuesday.

“It goes without saying that no distance learning model can ever replace our physical schools,” the union said in a statement Wednesday. “Our schools are where students learn, where they are supported by caring adults who address their social and emotional needs, and where many of them get their most reliable meal of the day. We look forward to the day when we can reopen our classrooms and office doors and reconnect with our school community.”

Alex Caputo-Pearl, the president of the union, plans to discuss the agreement during an address via Facebook Live on Thursday morning, when he will provide a “comprehensive walk-through” of the agreement, the union said.

Disagreements over whether to give teachers the flexibility to set their own schedules and whether to require them to teach via live video were major sticking points that prevented the two sides from reaching a deal before Wednesday, UTLA President-Elect Cecily Myart-Cruz told EdSource.

The district’s initial proposal in March stated that teachers “shall use live video engagement with students whenever possible.” It also stated that administrators “shall be given access to such live video engagement,” a nonstarter for the union. The agreement reached Wednesday does not include that language.

The union has argued that teachers should have flexibility to set their own schedules and use their preferred methods to teach, rather than being mandated to teach via live video on schedules set by schools.

“There are administrators who are hell-bent on micromanaging folks. And it’s ridiculous,” Myart-Cruz said in an interview Monday.

Also as part of the agreement, students will not receive a grade that is worse than their grade as of March 13. Their grades can only improve the rest of the school year. That policy is in line with state guidance.

The two sides also agreed that teachers will be required to receive professional development on “distance learning strategies and use of technology.” The professional development will happen in April and will be “no longer than one hour.”

The union previously threatened that its teachers would not do professional development if the district couldn’t fix technical problems with Schoology, an online platform where teachers can share lesson plans and assignments with students. Teachers reported the platform was often crashing, and the district acknowledged that technical issues existed. Beutner said Monday that the platform wasn’t built to support 500,000 users at the same time and that the district was enlisting a “major tech company” to fix the system.

The deal also states that special education teachers will provide distance learning “as appropriate” and “to the extent practical.” The union and the district plan to “continue to discuss how to provide equitable and appropriate education for students with disabilities,” the union said.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. The credo of the Democratic party in California, and likely across all of America, is “MONEY TALKS AND BULLSHIT WALKS’. They own both of those elements.

  2. am sure that the union itself does not have a Disaster Recovery Plan, other than letting people off the hook

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