Equal learning opportunities, racial equality and effects from COVID-19 in minority communities had protesters demanding that police be removed from schools and funds be allocated toward online learning for students without access, the Aug. 6 article reported.
“The time is up for neglecting our communities. The time is up for criminalizing our students. The time is [up] for billionaires not paying their fair share,” said activist Cecily Myart-Cruz, president of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). “It’s the perfect time to stand up and speak truth to power.”
Corporations and businesses have been the main focus of the Chamber of Commerce, the protesters claimed, while neglecting the interest of the schools.
“We’re calling on them to fund students and not billionaires,” said Kahlila Williams, a senior and student leader at the Girls Academic Leadership Academy. “For years, students in Black and Brown communities have faced [the] inequality of LAUSD and our California businesses. They need to pay up and start funding our schools.”
UTLA and LAUSD reached a tentative agreement after the protest and prior to a school board vote. Under the terms, students will have a “smart start” to the school year with more emphasis on socio-emotional support and technology support, said the article.
Access to online learning within minority family units is still highly disproportionate, which can lead to low achievement rates and the added criminalization of students, the Sentinel reported.
“For online learning we need the resources and that access,” said Williams, “and we can’t do that if we are not being funded. We’re calling out the Chamber of Commerce.”
Joseph Williams, director of operations and campaigns at L.A. Students Deserve, said, “We know that Black student achievement has been one of the lowest rates in all of LAUSD.”
Williams cites the criminalization of the students by police as possibly being a contributing factor.
“In LAUSD Black students are only 8% of the student population, but they’ve been 25% and 30% of all contacts, citations and arrests by school police,” he said.
In addition to the protest by students, parents and teachers, drivers of passing cars chanted “Defund the police” and honked in solidarity to bring awareness to what the protesters believe was the failing by the LAUSD and the Chamber of Commerce to the communities of color.
In the words of the late John Lewis, congressman and Civil Rights icon, “Let us get in the way and demand change,” Myart-Cruz concluded.