Last week A.J. Duffy, the president of the 48,000-member United Teachers of Los Angeles, appeared impatiently pleased. He'd just heard the news that school superintendent Ramon Cortines had decided not to decide who would be cut from the payroll in order to balance the L.A. Unified School District's budget. It even sounded as though the UTLA head was audibly relaxing during this time of economic meltdown and rising unemployment.
"It's not a sigh of relief by any stretch of the imagination," Duffy corrected. "Let's be clear -- between 1,600 and 2,300 teachers are being laid off in the spring."
Duffy conceded that "Cortines' intentions are good," but said the
school system budget, prepared by the LAUSD's chief financial officer,
Megan Reilly, was the real deciding factor -- and villain -- of the
current crisis. In an effort to promote the cutting of what his union
calls administrative waste and to resist school job cuts, Duffy has called for a teacher protest action
on Thursday afternoon. At 3:30 p.m. teachers and school staff members will demonstrate at the LAUSD offices at 333 Beaudry Street, then march to
Pershing Square and, following an hourlong rally, march to another
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demonstration at the State Office Building on Spring Street.
The union hopes the teachers' ranks will be augmented by parents and students. Today the UTLA also began a citywide boycott
of all non-mandatory state and federal assessments of student learning,
claiming the evaluations are a waste of time -- and money.