The United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), the largest local teachers’ union in California, rejected Governor Gavin Newsom’s school reopening plan on Monday, calling it “”a recipe for propagating structural racism.”
The plan, which was announced by Newsom and Democratic leaders in the state legislature, provides $6.6 billion for schools to accelerate the reopening process as coronavirus cases drop. “$2 billion would fund safety measures to support in-person instruction, such as personal protective equipment, ventilation upgrades and COVID-19 testing. $4.6 billion would fund expanded learning opportunities, such as summer school, tutoring and mental health services,” the governor’s office said in a press release.
The key to the plan is a financial incentive: schools would lose 1% in eligible funding for everyday that they remain closed past the end of March for children in kindergarten through second grade. “Schools in the state’s Red Tier or better would be required to offer in-person instruction to all students in all elementary grades and at least one middle or high school grade, or risk the same penalty,” the press release explained. Moreover, 10% of state vaccines would be set aside for school employees.
UTLA described the plan as racist, however. In a press statement, it claimed rich schools in white areas would benefit most (original emphasis):
Educators are being unfairly targeted by wealthier and healthier people who are not experiencing this disease in the same way as students and families in our communities. If this were a rich person’s disease, we would have seen a very different response. We would not have the high rate of infections and deaths.
Our goals for a safe physical return to schools remain the same: One: LA County must be out of the purple tier. Two:Staff required to return to in-person work must be either fully vaccinated or provided access to full vaccination. Three: Safety conditions must be in place in our schools, such as PPE, social distancing, ventilation, and a cleaning regimen.
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