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Los Angeles Teachers Inch Closer to a Strike. Here's What You Should Know

After three mediation sessions between the Los Angeles Unified school district and its teachers' union failed to reach an agreement, the two sides are now entering the "fact-finding" stage.

If that period—during which an independent third party will review the arguments and recommend a solution—fails to satisfy both parties, teachers in the nation's second-largest district could go on strike. This would be the first strike in the district since 1989.

What is the timeline for a potential strike?

Once a chairperson is appointed by the state, the fact-finding panel has 30 days to submit a non-binding report. Then, the district could submit a final offer. If that doesn't satisfy the United Teachers of Los Angeles, they could call for a strike. Already, a majority of union members voted to authorize a strike.

What does the union want? 

The union is asking for a 6.5 percent pay raise, a reduction in class sizes, and more school nurses, librarians, and restorative-justice advisors. It is also asking for limits on standardized testing and accountability measures for charter schools.  

The district's last offer to the union included a 6 percent pay raise for all teachers and additional pay for teachers who take courses in high-needs subjects. Los Angeles Unified also pledged to reduce class sizes in core subjects in 15 high-need middle schools and 75 high-need elementary schools. 

The union called that offer "insulting" and a "stunning example of disrespect" to teachers.

What does the district say?

Los Angeles Unified has maintained that it agrees with the union's requests on principle, but says the reality is that the district doesn't have enough money. 

"Los Angeles Unified needs to pay teachers better and provide them with more support and more professional development," a statement from the district said. "L.A. Unified looks forward to the fact-finding process to confirm what independent, third party experts have publicly stated repeatedly ... the school district will run out of money if changes are not made." 

If a strike happens, what would it mean for students? 

Los Angeles Unified, which serves more than 600,000 students, has released a family resource guide to help parents prepare for a potential strike. 

The guide said that during a strike, schools would remain open and students would continue to receive classroom instruction by substitute employees and school administrators. Meals would continue to be served. 

What do parents think?

According to the L.A. School Report, a teachers' union representative spoke to immigrant parents about the potential strike in hopes of getting their support. But the parents left the meeting feeling confused and frustrated. 

"We wanted to know more about their demands, but all we heard is that they want us to commit in supporting them to go on strike. But how are they committing to our community, to our kids? I wanted to know how they were preparing to support our kids if they go on strike for those two weeks, but we heard none of that," Juventina Hernández, a grandparent of children in the district told L.A. School Report.

For more coverage on teacher strikes across the country, see:

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