The teachers' union has urged parents to walk the picket line in support of the strike, and it was unclear how many of the 500,000 students would show up at schools, which will have only a skeletal staff on campuses.
By 8 am, students and parents had passed along the sidewalk to support the teachers, but there was also a steady stream of students entering RFK, which houses several small schools on its campus.
Once the students entered, they were shuffled inside the campus library, cafeteria or another large gathering area. It was unclear whether any instruction would be given.
Three Ways This Strike Is Different
At first glance, Monday's massive strike in Los Angeles looks like a continuation of the teacher protests we saw across the country in 2018. While some of the issues – stagnant salaries and low classroom funding – are similar, this urban strike is different from the statewide walkouts we have recently seen in conservative and swing states. Here's why:
1. These teachers are picketing their bosses, not politicians. The state-run walkouts in 2018 include teachers to state capitols to lobby legislators and governors for higher taxes and more school funding. In contrast, the Los Angeles action is a traditional strike in which teachers are protesting against their bosses: the district's superintendent and Board of Education.
2. The Los Angeles union is strong. In the six walkout states, teachers' unions were weak and the majority of teachers in many districts were not members. That's not the case in California, a strong labor state where public employee strikes are legal. Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, is part of a group of more than one local union leaders who have been critiquing school reform for years, as the expansion of the charter school sector – a major issue in Los Angeles – and the growth of standardized testing. These issues were simmering in the nation's second largest city for years before the West Virginia walkout that began in February 2018.
3. Los Angeles is trying to keep schools open. It's unusual for a district to keep all schools open during a strike in which all teachers are expected to participate, but that's what Los Angeles Unified is trying to do. This allows the district to continue serving meals and provides child care to its high-needs student population, 82 percent of whom come from low-income families. But with far fewer adults than usual, there probably won't be much traditional instruction going on. Students may be grouped together in cafeterias and auditoriums, perhaps watching movies or playing games. – DANA GOLDSTEIN