Accusing the Los Angeles Unified School District of turning its back on public education, the union representing the district’s teachers declared an impasse in labor talks Monday and demanded the appointment of a state-appointed mediator.

“Our employer refuses to partner with us for a sustainable vision for the future,” United Teachers Los Angeles said in a statement. “Why? Because our school district is currently dominated by pro-privatization ideologues who would rather starve our public schools than fight for their survival. Therefore, the UTLA bargaining team believes the bargaining process with our employer has been exhausted, and the two parties are at an impasse.”

The nation’s second-largest teachers’ union local, which represents more than 35,000 teachers and health and human services employees in LAUSD and charter schools, sent a letter Monday morning to the LAUSD Office of Labor Relations “declaring contract negotiations are at a deadlock” and demanding that LAUSD “bring in a state-appointed mediator to assist both parties in achieving a bargaining agreement that is acceptable to both parties.”

There was no immediate reaction from the school district or its Board of Education.

The union said in a statement that “for more than one year, we have attempted to engage our employer in a thoughtful and progressive bargaining process that paves the way toward a better future for our students and the Los Angeles Unified School District, but it’s become increasingly clear that the charter lobby-backed school board majority, along with its handpicked superintendent, Austin Beutner, has a different goal.”

“That goal is to blame educators for a starved school system, providing a rationale for even deeper cuts, softening the ground to replace our school district with privatization schemes that have failed in other cities. And we cannot, in good conscience, allow it to happen without fighting back.”

The union charged that the district, through its hires and other actions, is “building a case for a repudiation of public education in L.A., including the report from Beutner’s task force called `Hard Choices,’ which pits students against their teachers, and manipulates data to justify a type of private equity `wind down’ of LAUSD.”

“This school board majority and superintendent have no proactive plan to reinvest in our schools or ensure the survival of LAUSD as a civic institution in our city. Rather than advocate for increased state funding, or use the $1.7 billion in unrestricted reserves, they threaten layoffs, say educators get paid too much, recommend increases to overloaded class sizes and increases to special education teacher to student ratios,” according to the union’s statement.

In contrast, the union contends it “has a proactive vision that includes proposals to reduce class sizes, provide more health and human services staff, significantly reduce testing, increase parent and educator power over school site spending, require investment in community schools, ensure access to ethnic studies for all students, provide reasonable oversight at co-located schools and improve early education and adult education programs.”

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