When One School Is Wedged Onto Another and Starts Taking Its Space: An L.A. Campus Story

Jan 18, 2019
7:30 pm
Originally published at L.A. Taco

(Photo by Daniel Hernandez)

By Daniel Hernandez

LOS ANGELES — There are two-schools-in-one at the Baldwin Hills Elementary School site: a magnet called Baldwin Hills Elementary Pilot, hence the name, and New LA Elementary, a charter school that was placed there three years ago.

Baldwin Hills Elementary teachers are unionized and bargain collectively with UTLA, so its teachers this week are on strike. New LA, like the majority of other charter schools, does not have a union, so its teaches are working.

On the second morning of the strike, the Baldwin Hills Elementary Pilot teachers who were picketing on Rodeo Road decided to move their line to a shared campus driveway that is used as the entrance to New LA. They began walking in a circle at the driveway, which prevented vehicles from leaving the site and prevented New LA parents from entering to drop off their kids.

The New LA staff was forced to receive students on the sidewalk outside. And things got tense.

At one point, a vehicle trying to exit the driveway inched forward against the backs of the picketing teachers until the vehicle’s hood was nearly touching the circling picketers’ signs. They wouldn’t open a path.

“As long as we keep moving, it is legal to march on a sidewalk,” came a reminding call from Marie Germaine, the union chapter leader at Baldwin Hills Elementary.

Baldwin Hills Elementary School teachers and supporters holding a picket line. (Photo by Daniel Hernandez)

The marching continued. Flustered, the driver rolled down a window and began shouting and complaining as he tried to leave the driveway. At one point, a man physically tried to push teachers out of the way. “Don’t touch me!” a Baldwin Hills teacher yelled back.

RELATED: The Strike Is On! Live Updates From the Picket Lines

Scenes like this are playing out across Los Angeles this week as L.A.’s public-school teachers go on a historic strike. But the tensions between public schools and charter schools have been simmering for years at campuses known as “co-location” sites. At these, privately run charter schools sit on public school property, and compete in local communities for enrollment —and per-pupil funding— as well as crucial instructional space.

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