Tens of thousands of Los Angeles teachers went on strike Monday for the first time in three decades after contract negotiations failed in the nation's second-largest school district, but schools stayed open with the help of substitutes and district officials said students were learning. Educators and parents wearing ponchos and rain boots created a sea of umbrellas as they packed streets to march from City Hall to district headquarters in the pouring rain, pressing for higher pay and smaller class sizes that the district says could bankrupt the school system with 640,000 students. The rain-slicked streets filled with protesters created havoc on downtown traffic. Teachers aim to build on the momentum of successful walkouts nationwide, which launched last year in conservative states and now have moved to the more union-friendly West Coast. But unlike those strikes that shut down many schools and forced parents to find other care for their kids, all 1,240 K-12 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District were open. Bus service was normal, breakfast and lunches were being served, and "students are safe and learning," Superintendent Austin Beutner said at a press conference. The district has hired hundreds of substitutes to replace educators and staff members who left for picket lines, a move that the teachers union has called irresponsible.
Parents are going to court to block a Pennsylvania school district from allowing teachers to carry guns in school, the latest flashpoint in a debate playing out in many states over whether it's wise to arm educators to protect students from mass shooters. The district in Tamaqua, a coal-mining region about 90 miles (145 kilometers) from Philadelphia, serves more than 2,100 students in three schools and is believed to be the first school system in Pennsylvania to let teachers carry weapons. "A teacher's role is to teach," Holly Koscak, one of the plaintiffs, said Friday at a news conference. "We should not be putting those extra roles on a teacher when it's out of their scope." She said her daughter, a sophomore, is "very anxious" about having armed teachers in school. Tamaqua school board members "endangered their community" when they approved a "manifestly illegal" policy to give weapons to teachers and other school employees, according to a lawsuit filed by three parents and a grandparent. The teachers union had already filed suit to overturn the policy. Teachers are allowed to carry weapons in several states, including Texas, Missouri and Ohio, and a number of other states are considering similar measures in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school massacre last February.
The union representing teachers in Los Angeles, whose 640,000 students make it the nation's second-largest school district, postponed the start of a strike until Monday because of the possibility of a court-ordered delay. United Teachers Los Angeles previously said its 35,000 members would walk off the job Thursday for the first time in 30 years if a deal wasn't reached on higher pay and smaller class sizes. But a judge was considering Wednesday whether the union gave legally proper notice of a strike and could have ordered teachers to wait. Union officials said they believe they would have prevailed in court but decided to postpone to avoid confusion and give teachers, parents and others time to prepare. The Los Angeles Unified School District said the delay provides an opportunity to keep talking and avoid a strike. The district has said the union's demands could bankrupt the school system, which is projecting a half-billion-dollar deficit this budget year and has billions obligated for pension payments and health coverage for retired teachers. Both sides say they don't want a strike, but John Rogers, a professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, said one seems inevitable. "We're now coming to a point where the negotiations have not been successful and so there is a strong possibility that a teachers strike will unfold," he told the Associated Press.
Winter is arriving. It is an early start in Moira for John Tate as his pigs are being loaded for the factory. It is a similar story over in Struell Wells near Downpatrick, as Paul Turley's Angus cross cattle have reached the perfect weight for processing. At the Bell's near Ballymena their flock of turkeys is almost ready for the Christmas market. Drew and Valerie McConnell are on alert for calving cows at their Omagh dairy farm. Henry Savage from Cullyhannna is in Ballymena for the Autumn Pedigree Limousin sales.
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