10,000 Stand Up to Shield Our Schools

Jan. 19, 2017 — Our citywide action #SchoolTrump had many school sites out in the streets protesting various issues put forth by the president. 

 

Privatizing

Jan. 19, 2017 - Throngs of parents, students, educators, and community members throughout LAUSD took to Twitter and the streets on January 19 to shield our schools from racism, privatization, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and destructive proposals coming from the Donald Trump administration. One day before Trump’s inauguration, an estimated 10,000 people participated in #SchoolTrump actions at more than 400 sites in the school district.

At Grand View Elementary in West L.A., more than 300 parents, students, and educators marched through the neigh- borhood, carrying oversized signs in the shape of shields while singing “This Land Is Your Land” and “We Shall Overcome.” Speakers included LAUSD School Board President Steve Zimmer, National Educa- tion Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, California Teachers Association President Eric Heins, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl, and parents.
“We are here today for a simple reason,” said Caputo-Pearl. “We are here to stand up against anti-immigrant policies, against 

hate-filled rhetoric and we are going to stand with parents, with students, against federal cuts to education budgets, and we are going to stand against the privatization of our public school system.”

Sharon Savene, a parent at Grand View, told the crowd that the school needs funding, not privatizing.

“Our kids need nurses at this school, our kids need counselors at this school, our kids need janitorial and custodial staff at this school, they need teachers at this school and they need teaching assistants at this school,” Savene said. “We don’t need any more choice. We need to invest in the schools that we have,” referring to the proliferation of unregulated charter schools.

 

Taper Ave. EL
Taper Avenue Elementary participates in the #SchoolTrump action on Jan. 19, 2017.
Immigration

During the actions, school communities wrote messages on oversized letters, giving voice to their fears under a Trump administration. At Second Street Elemen- tary in East Los Angeles, examples of student messages included: “My name is Amanda, and my life matters,” “Better education ... not deportation,” and “Why do you want to take my mom?” Photos of the letters, along with direct messages to Trump, were then sent via Twitter. By
3 p.m., more than 2,300 tweets with the hashtag #SchoolTrump had been tweeted to @realDonaldTrump.

The protests took place one day after a Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education  nominee and billionaire privatizer Betsy DeVos. DeVos has never attended a public school, nor taught at one, and has worked the last two decades to defund and dismantle public education  in her home state of Michigan. DeVos has spent millions in state races on legislators who are elected and use public dollars to fund the proliferation of for-profit, unregulated charter schools and voucher programs, which have proven  to be disastrous  for students, especially in Detroit. The Broad and Walton foundations have bankrolled DeVos’ privatization  efforts, and both Eli Broad and DeVos collaborated on the collapse of the Michigan and Louisiana public school systems.

“Privatization  of our public schools segregates  our  communities,  divides neighborhoods and leaves out our most vulnerable students,” Caputo-Pearl said. “We must reinvest in public education, and fight the billionaire privatizers, including Republicans like DeVos and Democrats like Broad, who will dismantle it, piece by piece, and state by state.” The #SchoolTrump rallies were amplified by events held in several hundred other cities, as part of a national day of action, coordinated with the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools. Locally, our actions were supported by a number of community organizations, including Alliance of Californians  for Community  Empowerment (ACCE), Advancement Project, AFT 1521, Asian Americans Advancing Justice—LA, the Central American Re- source Center (CARECEN), Coalition for


Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Clergy & Laity United for Eco- nomic Justice (CLUE), Community Coalition, Inner City Struggle, Los Angeles Al- liance for a New Economy (LAANE), One LA-IAF, Reclaim Our Schools Los Angeles, SEIU 99, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Los Angeles, UNITE HERE, and Youth Justice Coalition.

At the action at Arleta High School in the Valley, students were front and center and had the chance to tell reporters why they were taking part.

Junior Rosa Rosas told the L.A. Times that she has a personal stake as a female. She said she was “disgusted” by Trump’s “locker-room talk about women.” Her message for Trump on the oversized letter: “Educate yourself before you run a big country. Everyone is affected by your decisions.”

Arleta High student body president Pedro Reyes was brought to the U.S. as a baby and has temporary status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—one of the programs under threat from the Trump administra- tion. Reyes addressed the rally crowd and shared his vow to go to college no matter who is in office. “Education really is the key to life, and Arleta has really great teachers to help us meet our goals,” Reyes said. “I’m not going to change the way I live my life. I’m not going to live in fear. I am going to live with the hope and aspiration for a better future, for all of us.”

 

For more information on this article, contact the United Teacher Editor Kim Turner at kturner@utla.net