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UTLA teachers protest federal bank bailout

April 28, 2009 9:57:32 PM PDT
In the latest protest against proposed layoffs in the Los Angeles Unified School District, teachers vented their anger at the federal bailout of U.S. banks.Members of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the teachers union, gathered outside Van Nuys high school Tuesday afternoon, and marched to a nearby Bank of America branch on Van Nuys Boulevard.

From there, they took their protest to a Citibank branch up the street, and on to the Van Nuys Federal Building where, according to a released statement: "We will urge the federal government to guarantee schools, not banker bonuses."

"I received my 'RIF notice' which basically means I'm going to be laid off after June, I won't have a job anymore." said teacher Christian Sheffield, who joined the demonstration. "It's a real shame because the district has the federal money to save my job, they have more than $160 million to do this. They say they're saving it for a rainy day fund, well that rainy day is here."

The LAUSD Board has approved budget cuts for next year that include laying off more than 5,000 district employees, including an estimated 3,500 teachers.

However, that is subject to change dependent, in part, on how much is available from the federal stimulus package. The budget plan calls for increasing class size, another point of contention with the protestors.

"To raise class sizes at this point," said Sheffield, "is going to put us further down the ladder as far as states ranked in this country for education."