By TONINDEYE RYONO MARISCAL (Age 10, Fifth Grade) and KOSIJO RYONO MARISCAL (Age 8, Third Grade)
“What do we want?” … “Fair contract!”
“When do we want it?” … “Now!”
Those are the teachers of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) chanting. They are chanting because they are on strike for better salaries and benefits. They are also on strike to have smaller classes, nurses, school counselors, and quality public education for all students in Los Angeles.
On a rainy day, we went to meet our Uncle Tony Osumi at the LAUSD offices. So many people came that we had to park far away. We saw many people walking towards the district offices wearing red shirts.
We asked, “Why are they wearing red shirts?” Our mom said, “That is what we are supposed to wear so everyone knows we are supporting the teachers.” We asked, “Why are the cars honking?” Our mom replied, “That is the way people are showing their support.”
When we got to the rally, we were surprised at how many people were there. There were many signs that were cool, but we did not know what they meant. When we met up with our Uncle Tony, he introduced us to his friend, Mr. Tizoc Carrasco. Mr. Carrasco and our Uncle Tony are both third-grade teachers at Gil Garcetti Learning Academy in South Los Angeles.
Mr. Carrasco told us the reason they were on strike was to get more pay, to have smaller classes, and to meet kids’ needs. He talked about why the schools need social workers and counselors because our emotional health matters as much as our physical health.
Mr. Carrasco and Uncle Tony also explained that some rich billionaires want to privatize all public schools. Billions of dollars are being given to privatize all schools. The billionaires say they care about the poor, but many give their workers low pay and no benefits like health insurance and sick days.
The reason the teachers want smaller class sizes is so they have more time to support their students. For example, if you teach five classes each with 35 kids in each class, that is 175 kids, and if you have them write one essay every week, that is 175 essays you have to check every week in your free time. This also means you do not have time to give them advice on their writing and then they do not learn much.
We took a picture with all the teachers who had come to the rally from Gil Garcetti Learning Academy. The adults talked while we played with our umbrellas.
As we walked to our car, we noticed that we had learned a lot about LAUSD and what is happening in our community. We could feel that our clothes were pretty wet. After that, we went to Mitsuwa Market to eat, and we chose our favorite dishes: soba noodles and udon!
Resources for readers on the strike and campaigns for educational and racial justice:
• City resources available during the strike: https://www.lamayor.org/StudentsAndFamilies
• Community Coalition: http://cocosouthla.org/
• CADRE: https://cadre-la.org/
• InnerCity Struggle: https://www.innercitystruggle.org/
• Californians for Justice: https://caljustice.org/
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