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Los Angeles teachers' strike extends to second day as charter teachers join

A strike at Los Angeles schools expanded on Tuesday as teachers at a small charter school system joined some 30,000 public-school educators on the second day of a strike, pressing for higher pay, smaller classes and more staff at the United States' second-largest school system.
The expansion of the work stoppage to The Accelerated Schools, which runs three charter schools, comes after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed support for teachers who educate some 640,000 students.
"This has been already an historic week for educators and for public education in Los Angeles," the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President Alex Caputo-Pearl told a rally for striking charter school teachers.
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) officials have said all schools will remain open during the strike, though the Los Angeles Times said more than two-thirds of the student population did not attend class on Monday.
A spokesman for The Accelerated Schools, which are managed independently but run under a charter from LAUSD, said its three schools remained open on Tuesday. He declined to immediately provide staff or enrollment numbers although a staff directory on its website listed 28 teachers.
Although the two sides are far apart on contract proposals, they are largely aligned on their goals, Los Angeles County School Superintendent Austen Beutner said.
"We aspire to the same set of things, but we have limits," Beutner told a morning news conference. "We didn't set the limits."
Beutner said the district has offered staff increases that would cost $130 million a year - more than county officials have said is available - while the union's demands would cost $800 million.
Beutner offered to join teachers in lobbying state lawmakers to increase education funding. "Join me on the bus," he said."Let's go."
Asked about Garcetti's support for the striking teachers, Beutner said the school system would welcome additional financial support from the city.
Garcetti, a Democrat, said on Twitter late on Monday: "I am proud of our teachers and I admire the courage with which they remain steadfast in defending excellent schools and opportunities for our children."
UTLA negotiators have demanded a 6.5 percent pay raise, more librarians, counselors and nurses, smaller class sizes, less testing and a moratorium on new charter schools.
Teacher pay currently averages $75,000 in the LAUSD, according the California Department of Education. The district has offered a 6 percent hike with back pay.
No negotiations have been held since talks broke down on Friday, and administrators and substitute teachers have been leading classes.


© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.
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