Los Angeles Teachers Return to School with $500 Monthly Child Care Subsidy

A teacher walks through a classroom as high school students take the philosophy exam, the first test session of the 2019 baccalaureate (high school graduation exam) on June 17, 2019 at the Pasteur high school in Strasbourg, eastern France. (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERICK …
FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP via Getty Images

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teachers and other district staff with young children will be returning to in-person learning with a $500 per month child care subsidy in order to further ensure schools are staffed appropriately, the district said.

On Monday, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner announced the district will provide the subsidy “for employees who have childcare issues and help ensure the appropriate staffing of schools as they reopen.”

According to the announcement, the district – the second largest in the country – will provide “full-time employees with a $500-a-month subsidy for each child age 5 and younger who is enrolled in a childcare program.”

The subsidy is offered to all district full-time employees, including custodial staff and bus drivers, and will be available throughout the current semester and for those employees who work in summer school programs through July 31.

Beutner said in a statement:

It’s been a very long year since COVID-19 led to the closure of schools, and many of our employees have had to juggle their responsibilities at work with the need to take care of their own families, including young children. We have done all we can to take care of our employees, from Hero Pay and extended medical benefits to COVID tests and vaccinations. The support for childcare is another step we’re taking to help our employees so they can keep doing all they can to serve the needs of students and their families.

The announcement added LAUSD is working with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99, Carina Care, and the Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles to assist district staff in securing in-home and center-based care for their children.

According to Politico, SEIU Local 99 proposed to the district last week that a subsidy be provided to teachers as well as its own classified employees.

The union’s demand that teachers still be allowed to teach remotely unless they receive subsidized child care was met with anger by some parent groups.

Politico noted a comment from parent Moema Leblanc, who said the teachers are using the pandemic to force demands they have always pushed:

I support a lot of the things they’re fighting for, but there’s a fine line because the moment that it prevents our kids from going back to school, then that’s not okay. These have been chronic issues teachers have fought for for years and unfortunately the pandemic became the platform they needed. They know they can use it.

LAUSD teacher Maya Daniels responded to the criticism that other essential workers are dealing with the same issues without child care assistance by stating “everyone is entitled” to free child care.

“Yes, we know healthcare and essential workers have faced these challenges all year,” she said. “However, a competition to the bottom is not in any of our best interests. We do not want anything we don’t believe everyone is entitled to: employer support for children and families.”

The latest provision comes after very tense negotiations between the district and United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), during which many low-income students have been left at a disadvantage, falling further behind in the core subjects of Reading and math.

In February, while students of other nearby districts had already returned to school, parents of children in LAUSD organized a blackout campaign to protest  the teachers’ refusal to return to work until they were guaranteed vaccinations and virus testing.

Biden administration Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Rochelle Walensky said in February students should return to school.

“The science shows us that most disease transmission does not happen in the walls of the school, but it comes in from the community,” Walensky said. “So, CDC is advocating to get our K-5 students back in school at least in a hybrid mode with universal mask wearing and 6 ft of distancing.”

In March, a leaked post, exposed by Bill Melugin of Fox LA, revealed UTLA urged its members not to post spring break travel photos on social media, warning they could sabotage the union’s position that schools must remain closed for safety reasons.

“Friendly reminder,” the alleged post stated, “If you are planning any trips for Spring Break, please keep that off social media. It is hard to argue that it is unsafe for in-person instruction, if parents and the public see vacation photos and international travel.”

The district is scheduled to reopen for preschool and elementary students, for half-day sessions, on April 12, after more than a year of closure.

 

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