The shake-up outside the walls of Yuba City schools, is starting to disrupt what happens inside the classroom.
Teachers employed by the Yuba City Unified School District (YUSCD) have been calling for a pay increase for the past year but negotiations have since halted, according to Yuba City Teachers Association Executive Board Member, Ursila Towne. About 39 teachers have since taken to the picket line in support of the strike, Towne said.
Teachers, students, parents and other supporters took to the sidewalk Thursday, Sept. 8 and Friday, Sept. 9 in front of the Bridge Street Elementary School (BSES). Picketers chanted and held signs that read “Strike: Teachers standing up for students,”.
Third grade teacher at BSES, Schorre Phillup, said teachers are striking for a fair contract.
“By making the decision to strike and standing together, you not only do that to make situations better for our members, but for the students in Yuba City schools,” California Teachers Association President Eric Heins said in a video posted to YouTube September 7.
“I can tell you for our teachers on the line, yes pay is involved but for most of us, it’s just that we want respect and we want our students to have quality teachers,” Phillup said. “That’s why most of us walked out.”
The tense situations between the teachers and administrators is also affecting the classroom. Rebecca Smith is the mother of freshman student, Sierra, at Yuba City High School.
“They’re playing on their phones, they’re doing movies,” Smith said. “The kids can stay at home and do worksheets.”
On Thursday, Sierra was asked to put her phone away in class and was allegedly told to “shut up” by her principal. She recorded the incident and posted it to YouTube.
“With the strike I could understand he’s probably like irritated,” the younger Smith said. “But telling a student to shut up, when their trying to explain why, that’s just ridiculous.”
The YUSCD enrolls 13,000 students in 16 schools -- About 7,500 students district-wide attended class Thursday and about 5,500 on Friday, according to YUSCD Superintendent Nancy Aaberg. Elementary schools saw higher attendance while the high schools attendance dropped.
“Union leaders have given no indication regarding their plans for Monday,” Aaberg wrote in an e-mail. “Whatever their decision, schools will remain open and parents are encouraged to send their children to school.”
Aaberg said the strike is unnecessary and could have been avoided. The union is asking for a 13.5 percent increase in salary but the district is ready to offer a 9.6 percent increase over the next two years, Aaberg said.
“A number of media outlets have reported that YCTA leadership is interested in renewed negotiations with our district,” Aaberg wrote in an e-mail. “Although we have not been contacted by union leaders, we hope these reports are accurate, and that union negotiators have prepared a proposal or counter-proposal for discussion.”
Strike events are planned through the weekend but there are still no plans for a resolution.