The Los Angeles teachers union is calling on the city district to allow teachers with young children to continue to work from home, until they are provided with subsidized child care.
United Teachers of Los Angeles has not made providing child care a condition to return to in-person instruction, and the Los Angeles Unified school district is planning to reopen some elementary schools beginning April 12. LAU closed many of its schools in November and December 2020, amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the area.
However, a petition calling on the district to grant waivers for teachers with young children has garnered over 2,000 signatures, saying that LAU’s hybrid plan asks educators with children “to choose—our children or our job.”
The ask has worried parents from other districts pushing their own schools to reopen, who contend that additional unions might make additional demands.
“I support a lot of the things they’re fighting for, but there’s a fine line because the moment that it prevents our kids from going back to school, then that’s not okay,” Moema LeBlanc, a parent with a child in the San Jose school district, told Politico. “These have been chronic issues teachers have fought for for years and unfortunately the pandemic became the platform they needed. They know they can use it.”
The petition for child care for teachers, written by LAU teacher Maya Daniels, acknowledges some concerns regarding the effort.
“Yes, we know healthcare and essential workers have faced these challenges all year. However, a competition to the bottom is not in any of our best interests,” Daniels wrote. “It is further important that educators…not flood daycares operating at limited capacity for the remainder of the year. These spaces can and should be prioritized for those who absolutely cannot work from home.”
California districts have struggled to reopen in the midst of the pandemic, with many districts opting for hybrid in-person and remote learning schedules. The California state government passed a plan in early March to offer financial incentives for schools to reopen, however UTLA president Cecily Myart-Cruz condemned the initiative.
“If you condition funding on the reopening of schools, that money will only go to white and wealthier and healthier school communities that do not have the transmission rates that low-income Black and brown communities do,” Myart-Cruz said at the time. “This is a recipe for propagating structural racism and it is deeply unfair to the students we serve.”