The LTA and LSD bargaining teams met again today (Friday, July 31, 2020). Negotiations continue on three main topics:
1. Class sizes and concluding negotiations for the 2019-2020 school year,
2. Language governing the safe return to in-person teaching and learning, and language governing distance teaching and learning until then, and
3. Language governing the safe administration of the ELPAC test to new kindergartners and students new to the district, because the ELPAC must be given in-person.
1. Class Sizes and Concluding 2019-2020 Negotiations
Soon after the Covid pandemic forced the closure of schools in March, LTA offered to withdraw all bargaining proposals this year (including salary and benefits proposals) EXCEPT for the topic of maintaining small class sizes. At the July 13 bargaining session, the district formally proposed concluding negotiations for 2019-2020 and focusing on 2020-2021. LTA immediately reminded them that LTA had proposed the same thing back in March, that LTA would be fine with concluding 2019-2020 negotiations, but that we needed closure on the topic of class sizes first. (The permanent LTA contract sets all class sizes at 29 students to 1 teacher, but for at least the last 15 years LTA has negotiated smaller class sizes in short term MOUs [Memorandums of Understanding]. Currently, LTA has negotiated 20:1 in TK, K and 1st grade, 24:1 in 2nd and 3rd grades, 27:1 in 4th and 5th grades, and it’s 29:1 at LMS.) On July 23, LTA formally proposed continuing with current class sizes into the 2020-2021 school year.
And today (July 31), the district stated that they “have no interest in continuing the MOU reducing class sizes.” Just like that. 15 years of smaller class sizes and increased attention for students… over, because they’re not interested in continuing.
LSD – no counterproposal
By-the-way, LTA has also fought for norming class sizes in the Dual Language program separately to make sure neither the DL classes nor the English Immersion classes got too big, and for including students with IEPs who receive special ed services on GenEd rosters so they can be more a part of the classroom community. Protecting those advances were also rejected by the district.
2. Safe In-Person Teaching and Distance Learning
On July 13, the district presented a vague proposal on school safety and distance learning, but the district’s proposal lacked detail and [LTA feels] would not have done enough to protect students and teachers from the risk of Covid infection. On July 23, LTA presented a detailed, comprehensive proposal to safe in-person teaching and learning and effective distance teaching and learning until it’s possible to return.
Today (July 31), the district said they needed more time to prepare a complete response to LTA’s proposal but shared counterproposals to some portions of LTA’s proposal. Please read both proposals and decide which one you think would do more to keep students and teachers safe and to ensure rigorous distance teaching and learning.
(LTA is working on a side-by-side comparison that we will post here when completed.)
3. ELPAC Testing
Under normal circumstances, the district conducts initial testing of all new kindergarten students and students new to the district in the weeks before school starts to determine students’ levels of English and provide ELD support once school starts. However, given the Covid pandemic and the closure of schools, LTA raised concerns with bringing large numbers of students and teachers together, IN-PERSON, on otherwise closed school campuses to conduct testing this summer. The district said it believed it could do so safely and LTA asked for details of the district’s safety plan and a formal proposal. The district discussed its ideas on safety precautions at the July 13 and July 23 meetings but failed to provide actual proposals. Then, last weekend, on Sunday, July 26 (between bargaining sessions) the district emailed an actual proposal and wanted to know if LTA would be ready with a response by the next session. LTA has been waiting for over a month and district requested a response in under a week.
Today (July 31), LTA asked the district to compare its proposal to the LA County Health Department’s list of requirements for re-opening schools for in-person education. The district declined. In addition, LTA shared an email communication it had received the day before from the director of EL assessment at the California Department of Education in response to a question LTA had sent. The email stated that districts should make every effort to test incoming EL students, but then listed several alternatives in case it was unsafe to do in-person testing, and further added that the state would be sending out its own set of in-person testing safety precautions in the next week or so. Given the district’s inability to demonstrate that its plan met all LA County Health Department requirements and the state’s provision for alternative methods of assessment, LTA had no choice but to oppose in-person testing incoming students and unnecessary risks to students and teachers.
The two teams agreed to meet again on August 13, with the goal of finalizing negotiations. LTA will respond to the district’s proposals. LTA understands the need to move as quickly as possible to resolve these issues so teachers can turn their focus back to where it belongs – on preparing for students and the start of school. But LTA WILL NOT be rushed into agreeing to unsafe working conditions for our teachers and unsafe learning conditions for our students, nor will we stop fighting for the small class sizes our students deserve.