LAUSD and UTLA reach tentative deal on Acceleration Days to help students catch up

The Los Angeles Unified School District and United Teachers Los Angeles have tentatively agreed to change the dates the district will offer four Acceleration Days to students struggling with pandemic-related learning losses – a move that would not lengthen the school year and that would stave off a boycott the union had threatened to stage.

Under the tentative agreement, the Acceleration Days that were originally set for four Wednesdays throughout the school year would instead be offered to students during winter and spring break – Dec. 19 and 20, plus April 3 and 4.

If the new agreement holds, the Wednesdays currently designated as Acceleration Days would revert back to regular school days, according to an unsigned Memorandum of Understanding between the parties, shared by UTLA. Under the rejiggered schedule, the last day of school for students would be June 9, nearly a week earlier than what’s reflected in the current school calendar.

“We are pleased that UTLA has accepted our proposal for the Student Acceleration Days, and we look forward to continued discussions with other labor partners,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement Wednesday, Sept. 28, a day after the parties came to a tentative agreement.

“Though our original plan would have allowed real-time understanding of student gaps, this updated plan allows students to benefit from the instruction and support provided by fully staffed schools,” he continued. “At the end of the day, we will continue to do right by our students.”

District officials previously said they had scheduled Acceleration Days at critical points for students — during the 10-week mark of first and second semester, as well as near the end of the grading period in first semester and during the 15-week mark in second semester. Those are times in which staff can identify the students who need more help and give those students opportunities to master concepts or improve their grades, before the end of the term.

But UTLA criticized the schedule, saying the Acceleration Days were scheduled on four “random” Wednesdays that would disrupt regular instruction.

The Acceleration Days won’t be regular instructional days, and details about their content and format will be finalized based on recommendations from a committee of UTLA and district representatives, according to the tentative agreement.

The concept is to provide an opportunity for struggling students to receive extra in-person help from educators, potentially catch up on missed assignments or take part in enrichment activities. Attendance would remain optional for students and classroom teachers. LAUSD employees who worked those days would receive extra pay.

UTLA, which represents about 35,000 teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses and other certificated employees, opposed the original plan when the superintendent announced it last spring.

Union officials said the tens of millions of dollars set aside for those four days could be better spent on reducing class sizes; hiring more counselors, psychiatric social workers and psychologists; and investing in teacher development.

UTLA also filed an unfair practice charge with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board in August, alleging the district was wrong to unilaterally alter the school calendar without first making a good-faith attempt to negotiate with the union. The union would drop the charge if this tentative agreement is ratified, a spokesperson for UTLA said.

Union members had voted last month to boycott the first of the Acceleration Days. Teachers and other employees with the option of working that day or not – about 80% of UTLA membership – were encouraged to gather in downtown L.A. to rally in support of the union’s “Beyond Recovery” agenda, which lays out issues the union wants addressed as part of its ongoing contract negotiations.

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The boycott planned for next month won’t be held if the new tentative agreement is ratified by both the union and school board. UTLA members will vote on the new plan over three days starting Sunday.

Scott Mandel, chair of UTLA’s Valley East area, said Wednesday there are still plans to inform families about what the union is seeking in its new contract.

“There will be informational picketing at the schools the morning of Oct. 19 to share with the parents our ‘Beyond Recovery’ platform as we fight to get a new contract beneficial for teachers and students,” he said.

Related links

LAUSD students lost about five years of academic ground due to pandemic, Superintendent Carvalho says
How burnout is driving LAUSD teachers from classrooms
UTLA members vote to boycott LAUSD’s optional school day aimed at helping students catch up
UTLA claims LAUSD unfairly added four teaching days and three development days to school year

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