A major teachers union is claiming that the re-opening of schools in its district cannot occur without several substantial policy provisions in place, including a "moratorium" on charter schools and the defunding of local police.
United Teachers Los Angeles, a 35,000-strong union in the Los Angeles Unified School District, made those demands in a policy paper it released this week. The organization called on local authorities to "keep school campuses closed when the semester begins on Aug. 18."
The union outlined numerous major provisions it says will be necessary to reopen schools again, including sequestering students in small groups throughout the school day, providing students with masks and other forms of protective equipment, and re-designing school layouts in order to facilitate "social distancing."
Yet the union goes even farther than those requests, calling for "local support" in the form of defunded police departments and the shuttering of charter schools.
Police violence "is a leading cause of death and trauma for Black people, and is a serious public health and moral issue," the union writes. The document calls on authorities to "shift the astronomical amount of money devoted to policing, to education and other essential needs such as housing and public health."
"Privately operated, publicly funded charter schools," meanwhile, "drain resources from district schools," the union states. The practice of "colocating" charter schools in existing structures, it continues, "adds students to campuses when we need to reduce the number of students to allow for physical distancing."
The union also demands the implementation of a federal Medicare-for-All program, several new state-level taxes on wealthy people, and a "federal bailout" of the school district.
"The benefits to restarting physical schools must outweigh the risks, especially for our most vulnerable students and school communities," the document continues.
"As it stands, the only people guaranteed to benefit from the premature physical reopening of schools amidst a rapidly accelerating pandemic are billionaires and the politicians they’ve purchased," it adds.
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