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Teachers fight back with 'Pink Friday'

March 13, 2009 7:34:35 AM PDT
LAUSD teachers, as well as others across the state, are fighting back with protests on "Pink Friday" as potential layoff notices go out this weekend.Friday's protest day is being called "Pink Friday" because thousands of teachers and other employees will be getting pink slips on Friday.

California school districts handed out 25,000 pink slips as they cope with $11 billion in state cuts to education. The notices that were sent are precautionary. This doesn't mean that all 25,000 teachers will lose their jobs.

The budget crunch is perhaps most deeply felt in the Los Angeles Unified School District, facing a $718 million shortfall, with the possibility of 8,000 teachers and staff being laid off.

Teachers, parents and students gathered outside Miguel Contreras Learning Complex in downtown Los Angeles on Friday morning, many wearing pink.

About 40 percent of the teachers at Miguel Contreras are probationary, which means they only have a couple of years of experience. That means they're the ones most likely to lose their jobs.

Teachers are frustrated and nervous.

"I will smile in the classroom till June when my students graduate to 10th grade. After that, my dedication is to education. It might be in a new district, it might mean in a new state even," said second-year teacher Stuti Goswamy.

Students are also upset about the potential cuts.

"They mentor us, they help us write our essays for college, even after their class hours. They're not getting paid, and they stay after school They come before school to tutor us," said student Perla Ortiz.

The L.A. Unified School District is sending out notices to nearly 6,000 teachers and health and human services professionals, warning that they may lose their jobs at the end of the school year.

The district is trying to reduce a $718-million budget shortfall for the coming school year.

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) President A.J. Duffy said even layoff notices will have a traumatic effect on teachers.

"If I got a notice, I'm going to assume that I'm not going to have a job in September. The long-term effect is if I get another job, either in another district, out of state, or in another profession, I'm gone to the teaching force in Los Angeles Unified, and that's a tragedy," Duffy said.

The teachers union said making cuts in the classroom is not the way to resolve the deficit. UTLA's budget proposals include:

  • Cancel contracts with outside consultants
  • End district-mandated student assessments
  • Close local mini-districts
  • Reduce the number of administrators in schools and offices
  • Sell the KLCS-TV station and make any other nonessential cuts
  • Don't open any more new schools and use bond money to refurbish old schools

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines issued a statement: "It is important to note that my vision is to allow schools to make decisions as much as possible as money comes in. Schools will determine what to add back with the new money, but we need to send precautionary notices to some employees because we don't know when the money will come in and what each school will purchase."

The district is hoping to receive some federal stimulus money.

Eyewitness News Reporters Amy Powell and Robert Holguin contributed to this report.


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