Los Angeles teachers union members have voted to boycott the first of four optional, extra learning days for students saying the district plans “simply feign support for students,” the union announced Friday.
The first extended learning day is scheduled for Oct. 19., a key time in the middle of the semester when students can improve grades and seek midterm help, district officials said. So far there is no indication that the day will be canceled.
The extra days were intended to “provide additional instruction to students identified as in need of intensive intervention,” the district said in a statement Friday.
United Teachers Los Angeles has opposed the optional learning days — for which teachers would be paid — as a poor use of resources and as a violation of state rules requiring that changes to working conditions must be bargained over in formal labor negotiations. The union has filed with state labor regulators to intervene on its behalf.
The union statement said that “93% of UTLA educators” had voted in favor of a boycott, but did not specify what percentage of union members had participated in the vote. The union represents more than 30,000 teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses.
The union release referred to the learning days as a “$122 Million Stunt” by the L.A. Unified School District that “prioritizes optics over student needs.”
“LAUSD has made clear that they would rather squander $122 million of precious education dollars and simply feign support for students,” the union said in its statement. “These ‘Accelerated Days’ are to distract from the district’s refusal to support an equitable education for all students by denying our children support and services proven to ensure student success. By arbitrarily scattering these days throughout the school calendar, real teaching and learning will be disrupted and dollars that were meant to be used on education will be wasted.”
The district has asserted that the days are not arbitrarily scheduled, but inserted at key — and available — points in the academic calendar.
“This is to accelerate students’ progress toward grade-level proficiency, social emotional learning and high school graduation, while providing teachers and other employees an opportunity to earn extra pay,” the district statement said.
L.A. Unified also challenged the union’s math, stating that the $122 million included $52 million to pay employees to attend the three optional professional training days held on Aug. 9, 10 and 11.
“The majority of educators participated in these optional, paid adult learning days,” the district said in its statement.
The district has defended its process for scheduling the days by noting that they are optional.
Union members have been working under an expired contract since July 1. UTLA is seeking a 10% salary increase for each of the next two years. Its statement said the money for the extra school days would be better spent on smaller classes and higher wages.
L.A. Unified Supt. Alberto Carvalho said the next contract would at least protect union members from the recent harms of inflation, which he estimated had diminished the buying power of wages by about 9%.
Negotiations between the parties are underway on the full union contract.