Roughly a hundred people spread out across a Valley Village corner Sunday afternoon, to preparing to join their teachers in a possible strike.
Jenna Schwartz, a mom of two students at Los Angeles Unified School District's Colfax Charter Elementary School, asks her son, “Oliver, how many days a week do you have a nurse at school?”
“One,” he answers.
“Yeah,” she says.
Schwartz is also Parent-Teacher Association president, but her current organizing efforts aren’t connected to that role.
“We have an amazing community at our school,” she says. “And everyone is turning out in force to help.”
Everyone used to be a couple of families wondering how they could help teachers and each other. Shortly after Christmas, Schwartz and her friends started a Facebook group called Parents Supporting Teachers, and membership ballooned.
“I think we’re going to hit 5,000,” Schwartz says, checking the page. “I get DMs or whatever they’re called all day long. It’s my new full time job.”
The page gives parents a place to share information, resources, and opinions. One thing this group agrees on, they aren’t sending their kids to school.
“Correct,” says Schwartz, standing in a cluster of moms. “All of our kids will stay home from school.”
That includes Lisa Walco’s son who is in fourth grade. “I am a valley girl born and raised and a product of LAUSD – a proud product of LAUSD,” Walco says.
She’s proposed parents form small co-ops, where four or five families rotate watching four or five kids. The idea has garnered a lot of interest she says, especially since no one is sure who will be overseeing the classrooms should a strike occur.
“We would prefer to take matters into our own hands with parents that we know and have relationships with,” she says. “As opposed to being in a sea of hundreds of children potentially with who knows who watching them.”
Walco came to Sunday’s event with a list of slogans. “Keep class size down so students can rise up,” she says. “I like that one.”
Lisa Adler likes that one too. “My daughter has 59 kids in her dance class,” she says.
Knowing not every parent has childcare options, she spent the afternoon making pins for students who will be in school. “It just tells everyone that we are all in this together.”
In the end, Schwartz hopes a resolution is reached and none of these materials will be needed. “The true goal is to not have a strike,” she says.
But if there is one, she says there are plenty of ways for parents to show support. “All you have to do is go up to your teacher be like, ‘Hey I live three houses down. You are welcome to come and use our restroom.’ They are sacrificing their salary. The least we can do is provide them a bathroom and some water and coffee and our solidarity.”