Black parents who have children in Los Angeles public schools are planning a “Open Our Schools” Rally on March 13 in the aftermath of some comments made by the LA Teachers’ Union president.

The rally, planned for 11am that morning, is being advertised with flyers being distributed around the community that read, “Our children are severely falling behind and suffering mental health issues. Our kids miss and need their teachers, education, and friends.”

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Controversial Statements From Teachers Union

On Tuesday, United Teachers Los Angeles Union President Cecily Myart-Cruz accused Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed plan to reopen California’s schools as “propagating structural racism,” saying, 

“If you condition funding on the reopening of schools, that money will only go to white and wealthier and healthier school communities that do not have the transmission rates that low-income Black and brown communities do. This is a recipe for propagating structural racism and it is deeply unfair to the students we serve.”

Many black parents were outraged by Myart-Cruz’s comments.

In a report from Fox11 Los Angeles, black parents are saying that the Teachers’ Union does not speak for them and the rally is a response to those comments.

Renee Bailey, who has a 5-year old and a 14-year old son with special needs who has not received the proper therapies for almost two years says, “No one can speak for us better than us.” Bailey called Myart-Cruz’s comments “horrible, especially from a leader.”

 “Because that is a very generalized and almost racist comment in itself. As a culture, Black and brown people don’t want to be generalized. We don’t want to be stereotyped and to say reopening schools is structural racism, that’s wrong.”

Lamar Freeman coaches youth football. He says every parent he talks to wants their kids back in the classroom. He says the comments of Union President Myart-Cruz “sound more like excuses.”

He went to to say, “Our parents are dramatically upset that their kids are not in school, they want their kids in school. They want face-to-face learning. They’re kids, they need some kind of structure.”

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A Few Statistics

As more and more news about the mental health of America’s school children comes to light, Coach Freeman also gives some shocking numbers on the academic picture of the kids he coaches.

He says that before COVID, 80% of the kids he coaches were on the honor roll. That number has slipped to 20%. 

LA has the second largest school district in the nation, serving roughly 600,000 students. 

According to a Daily Mail report, the school district has a racial breakdown of 74% Latino, 10% white, and 7.8% black. With that ethnic make-up of students, it is hard to see where the push from wealthy white parents might be. 

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Teachers Are Also Saying Going Back To School Is Still Unsafe

Even with parents of all backgrounds eager to get their kids back in school, and frustrated that teachers don’t seem to be, UTLA is standing by a Pew Research poll that says white wealthy parents are pushing for school reopening.

The Teachers’ Union says it wants all teachers vaccinated before going back to work. This could take until the end of the school year in June. Los Angeles County has expanded vaccinations to teachers and other essential workers. 

Renee Bailey is not buying the racism comments from Cecily Myart-Cruz. “It’s almost like minority families want the schools to reopen more than anyone else, and the reason why I say that is education, for us, our culture, is a stairway out of poverty, so every day that our kids aren’t in school, that’s just a day closer to poverty for them.”

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