This Week in Education Organizing - January 4, 2019

WE ARE LA! – 50,000 March on December 15th

In a historic show of support, tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of Los Angeles on December 15th to demand the schools all our students deserve. With class sizes that are too high and not enough resources in schools and classrooms, teachers are fighting for a profound reinvestment in Los Angeles schools. Together with parents and students, they are demanding more counselors and librarians, greater charter school accountability, an end to random searches of students, and more. LAUSD has not made a meaningful offer to the union since the end of October.  

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles told the banner-waving crowd that barring a settlement in the next few days, UTLA will go out on strike on January 10th – next Thursday.

 “If we are forced to strike, it will be to defend our schools; but it will also be because we think our kids deserve more, we deserve more, because we dare to have high expectations,” Caputo-Pearl said to the cheering crowd. “If we strike, it is all of our strike. When we win, it is all of our victory.” 

Following a rally, students, parents, educators and community members began a march through the streets of downtown Los Angeles, bringing the momentum and energy of the national teacher rebellion to the doorstep nation’s second-largest school district. Marchers then proceeded to the Broad Museum to highlight the destructive role billionaires like Eli Broad play in draining money from our public schools by funding the corporate charter industry and privatization efforts.

Join AROS and our National Partners in Supporting Los Angeles Parents, Educators and Students!

On December 28th, LA superintendent Austin Beutner sent a letter directly to UTLA members at their homes—a stunning end run—rebuking UTLA and charging that the union has refused to bargain in good faith. He is encouraging teachers, as well as parents, to call the union and urge them to settle the strike. UTLA counters that it is Beutner who is refusing to negotiate—no new, legitimate offers have been put forward by the district since late October. Instead, Beutner is trying to negotiate through the media rather than at the bargaining table.

If the strike proceeds, Reclaim Our Schools LA (ROSLA) – the labor/community coalition that is helping to mobilize support – has called for educators, parents, students and everyone concerned about public education to WEAR RED on January 10th in solidarity with UTLA. Here are some action steps YOU can take:

(1)    CALL LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner (213-241-7000) and/or School Board President Monica Garcia (213-241-6480)! LAUSD has a $1.9 billion surplus. Tell them they should use a portion of that surplus right now, today, to fully fund Los Angeles public schools. See the union’s other demands HERE and HERE (see second page)– encourage the district to meet these demands to improve public schools.

(2)    WEAR RED ON JANUARY 10th!

(3)    Join an AROS / Journey for Justice Social Media “Power Hour” on January 10th! We will be sending a social media packet and more information on Monday, January 7th.

In addition, a number of cities are planning solidarity WALK-Ins on January 15th to show support for the schools all our students deserve. 

These actions are taking place under the banner, WE ARE LA! #WeAreLA   Please join us.

Check the AROS website ( on Monday for additional information and a call to action. 

DeVos: Discriminatory Discipline Makes Schools Safer. Huh?

On the eve of the Christmas holidays, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos officially rescinded six documents related to the Obama Administration’s guidance on school discipline, which was designed to help school districts reduce racial disparities in their use of suspensions and expulsions.

The Washington Post reported on the action.

The Secretary indicated her distaste for the discipline guidance early in her tenure. But after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida last February and the creation of the President’s School Safety Commission, which DeVos chaired, it seemed clear that DeVos would use the Commission to justify action on the discipline guidance as well. And she did.

The Commission report, released on December 18th, criticized the guidance as an example of “federal overreach” and linked school discipline policy to school safety in a bizarrely backwards analysis. U.S. Representative Bobby Scott, who is in line to chair the House Committee on Education and Labor in the new Congress, called the move “a terrible message that schools are safest when they discriminate against students of color.” Well put. The report recommended the rescission of the guidance, and DeVos made it official on December 21st.

The Advancement Project and Alliance for Educational Justice have released a toolkit on responding to the School Safety Commission report and the rescission of the discipline guidance. In addition to its recommendations on the discipline guidance, AP and AEJ note that the Commission’s report includes additional recommendations that, if followed, would increase the level of discrimination, school pushout and criminalization faced by Black and Brown students on a daily basis.

The toolkit,  No Turning Back! – Federal School Discipline Guidance & Commission on School Safety Toolkit provides a primer on the Federal School Discipline Guidance and the Federal Commission on School Safety’s recommendations and includes messaging, demands and organizing resources.

Meanwhile…Restorative Practices Work, Finds Rand Study

The Rand Corp. has released a new study that finds that restorative practices, such as inclusive and non-punitive ways to respond to conflict, have been effective at reducing student suspensions in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district. The report finds that the use of a set of practices they call “Pursuing Equitable and Restorative Communities,” or PERC, improved school climate (as rated by teachers), and reduced the average suspension rate in schools, as well as disparities in the use of suspension by race and income. The report acknowledges that academic outcomes have so far not resulted from the use of PERC, and includes a set of recommendations around the provision of ongoing, substantive professional development for educators, the collection of data, and more.

Job Announcements in Education Justice

The Edward Hazen Foundation is looking for a Program Officer

In April of 2018, the Hazen Board made the decision to “go all in” to support the movement for education justice in this critical time of challenge and opportunity. Thus, the Foundation will spend out its full assets over the next 5-7 years. They are seeking a program officer with experience in and ties to their fields of work: education justice, racial justice, and youth organizing; experience with social justice philanthropy is a plus. It will be an opportunity to help shape a body of work that, if well executed, could have a lasting impact well beyond Hazen’s lifetime.

Review of candidates will begin January 25th and continue until the position is filled. For more information on the Foundation, see our website at  The full job description can be found at this link.

Rights and Democracy is Hiring an Organizing Director for Vermont

Rights and Democracy is a progressive multi-issue organization based in Vermont and New Hampshire. They are building a strong movement and the people power necessary to win justice and improve the policies that affect their communities. From making sure that every worker earns a livable wage, to securing access to quality healthcare and education for all, Rights and Democracy is active in a broad range of issues that people face every day.

Rights and Democracy works in partnership with community groups, progressive unions, faith communities, organizations fighting for human and civil rights, and environmental and climate action groups. See the full job description here.


January 10th: WE ARE LA! Wear RED! Join our social media campaign (#WeAreLA) and check out the AROS website for more information.

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The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools
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