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Teachers in Los Angeles are Striking for our Students, Not Ourselves


Teachers in Los Angeles are Striking for our Students, Not Ourselves

Jeremy Zwang-Weissman

Virgil Middle School is the place at which I spend more time than my actual home; it is my home-away-from-home. As a middle school science and music teacher, I spend every single weekday there, from about 7:30 am until at least 5:00 pm, almost entirely with my students.




The strike is for the same reason that every labor strike exists. To improve the situation of members of the union. I have no problem with this, but they hypocrisy of teachers’ unions always bothers me.



The ravages of neoliberalism continue to destroy what once was a decent public educational system. The students are deprived of the arts now as unessential. Damn, arts are just as important as math or science. One must be aware of culture and its pleasures if we want decent productive citizens. They are privatizing institutions best left in the public sphere. Profit doesn’t need to be extracted from student’s education. This economic system exists as vampires sucking the life blood out of all Americans with hollow people in its wake with no appreciating the finer things of life such as art or music. I got exposed to these things in public school years ago when they were included. I could have done without all the worthless, bulls**t PE classes. A complete waste of time and energy.



In the case of teachers’ strikes, improving the situation of labor in almost every aspect means improving the situation of students and vice versa.

So, for example, smaller class size is among union demands. That does benefit teachers, but it is more critical for students. It is quite possible to put less energy into grading more papers and reduce attention to more students. Both of these are unpleasant and reduce the sense of meaning in one’s work. But both are regularly done at any class size above a dozen or so, in some cases at least arguably down to six or seven.

It doesn’t make an immunity to hypocrisy, but it ought to be factored in to public consideration of these things.



It’s as easy to preach in the picket line as elsewhere, and you might be surprised how many students show up and show more interest than on another given day.

I never had to strike myself, but I well remember my teachers’ strikes when I was in the secondary. They were stellar lessons in solidarity, public action, and community involvement.

Are there any of those that do not appear necessary with respect to the ecology?