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UTLA May Protest Soon

Macy Kwon, Features editor

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The sight of all desks occupied, and a class of 40 students has become a common scenario in many of Cleveland’s classes. However, the overfilled classrooms have the possibility of growing even more with the new Superintendent, Austin Beutner’s vision of classrooms with as high as 50 students per a teacher. This is one of the many factors that the UTLA claims to be the cause factors for a potential strike.

The UTLA and District are once again locked in a struggle of interests over the classroom. If the district does not compromise with the demands of the UTLA, there is a possibility of a city-wide strike in the future of fields of education.

The polls opened, on August 23rd, 24th, and 27th for the voting for the authorization of a strike. Larger levels of approved participation in the strike voted by teachers would increase the bargaining power that the UTLA has, and increase the chances of getting a better compromise.

A strike would mean that those who would participate would cease to perform duties such as grades, college recommendations, etc. Leslie Broyles, UTLA Chapter Chair of Cleveland High School, stated that during this period, “teachers are not to perform,” and though the district would use this to “undermine their professionality to delay things,” she states that,” we can’t make it easier for them.”

Currently, the UTLA is in the mediation stage with the district, the last stage of struggle before a strike where both parties try to find a solution, but the UTLA claims that the district is not stalling and has rejected their proposal to meet for mediation until September 27th, instead of the original date: August 2nd.

The UTLA demands better conditions for teachers financially, but for the classroom as well. Some of the main requests include, a 6.5% pay raise, smaller class sizes, a larger staff in counselors, nurses, psychologists, librarians, and custodians, charter school accountability, and resources. Currently, teachers pay for many of the organizational materials, classroom resources, some textbooks for world languages, and clean their own classrooms.

“Our demands are reasonable,” stated Broyles.

Some of Beutner’s new claims and planned reforms, however, include, reduction of healthcare as funds to other priorities, 90 extra minutes of school per week, reduction of pension, and increasing class sizes.

Although class size is restricted by section 1.5, the district has the ability to increase the size of classrooms if they claim financial hardship, no evidence is needed.

However, the students have also noticed this new addition, and have come to their own conclusions. For instance, Catherine Quinteros a 10th grade student, adds, “Yeah, there’s too many people. You don’t really get learning.”

Another concern of the UTLA is that public schools in general are losing funding to charter schools.  Broyles notes that there is an influx of “problem” kids after the norm period (first five weeks) and before testing, increasing the size of Cleveland, and depriving Cleveland of yearly funds. Furthermore, kids with more special needs are being increasingly sent to public schools.

However, it depends if the teachers will be willing to strike, and if the district will be willing to be swayed by the votes. If the strike is authorized, students may see their own teachers actively fighting for what they claim are their rights, in the eyes of the district. But the question is, Cleveland, what will the students do? Will they strike alongside the teachers, and will the district compromise? Or will conditions remain the same, and new reforms made to schools city-wide?

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The Student News Site of Cleveland Charter High School
UTLA May Protest Soon