LOS ANGELES, CA – Middle School teacher Michele Levin worked from home through winter break amid the threat of a teachers’ strike similar to the one she remembers in 1989.
- Middle school teacher reflects on 1989 strike
- Fighting for similar issues: class size
- Everything to know about teachers' strike
Sitting at her computer, Levin said, “I’m lesson planning, I’m gathering resources, so it’s definitely a working vacation."
Lesson planning for the first week back from the holidays was tricky. Levin had plotted out Monday through Wednesday, but the rest of the week was a question mark.
“I am hoping that a strike does not happen," Levin said. "I don’t want a strike. I want to keep teaching. But I also don’t want to keep teaching in an environment where I’m the one running with Band-Aids trying to make things work because it’s not fair to my students.”
Levin has been in the classroom for 30 years. She started teaching the year after the 1989 strike, and feels like the teachers who took a stand then laid the foundation for her career.
“They fought really hard for those benefits," Levin said, "and it meant for me as a new teacher I came in to a position, I was a teacher, I was respected, I could do my job. It was a huge benefit.”
One of the big issues from back then is still a big issue now: class size. With close to 40 students in each of her classes, Levin’s own students complain that she is less available to them.
“On the weekends I’m grading papers," said Levin. "I take my work with me to her softball games, so I’m constantly doing work because there’s so many students.”
If there is a strike, Levin will be out there; for herself, for her students, for public education, and for future teachers. She wants to stand up for them the way teachers 30 years ago stood up for her.
“Working for LA Unified is absolutely amazing. It’s the most rewarding job you can have," Levin said. "Our students are fabulous. You will have their joys. You will have some of their sorrows but you will leave every day feeling that you’ve made a difference. To be a teacher, you will have to be a fighter but you are fighting for our kids."
A fight she says, she’ll never regret.