Sacramento Teachers Say They Hope to Send Message to District with One-Day Strike

SACRAMENTO -- Striking teachers used their large numbers to send a message Thursday to the Sacramento City Unified School District.

"For the first five years of my teaching career, I got laid off every single year and then I was transferred to different schools around the district," history teacher Tammy Abdo said.

Abdo, who has been teaching at C.K. McClatchy High School for the last seven years, says getting to live her passion as an educator makes the early struggles worth it.

She says her decision to join her fellow on the picket line for a one-day strike didn't come easy. Her AP history students take the crucial national exam in just three weeks.

"So every minute counts to me in the classroom, but I'm doing it for them," Abdo said. "I want the funding to go back to them."

The teacher's union says despite negotiations, the district wants to back out of its contract to use teacher health care savings on students, like reducing class sizes and providing more librarians, nurses and psychologists.

But the district's back is against the wall as it faces a state takeover if it can't resolve a $35 million budget deficit over two years. It's telling parents schools will stay open with backup staffing.

Abdo acknowledges the bind the school district is, and failure to resolve it could make everyone worse off -- students included.  However, she says core commitments can’t be set aside.

"We’ll work with you, but you have to show us that you have good faith and showing good faith is honoring our contract," she said.

While Abdo isn’t wild about her students missing a day of instruction she still feels that she taught them something today.

"We do talk about the civil rights movement, not just in terms of African Americans but in terms of everybody --  workers, women’s rights and all of that. And they look at this and they’re like, 'It's kind of like what you guys did. You’re standing up for what you believe in,'" Abdo said.

Teachers will be back in the classroom on Friday.

Following Thursday's strike, SCUSD issued the following statement:

District Administrators and Board Members spent today visiting school sites meeting with and listening to our students, educators, staff and families. The message we heard from our community was clear—they do not want to be caught in the middle of a fight between leaders of the SCTA and District. While our community understands we have a $35 million budget deficit and are at risk of state takeover, they want all of us working on solutions to this problem, not on fighting with each other. We will be honoring Board President Jessie Ryan’s call for a “cease fire” agreement between the District and SCTA. While we had originally planned to file an unfair labor practice charge against SCTA challenging the legality of today’s strike, we have chosen not to file that charge today. Instead, we will focus on working together with a coalition of labor, business, community, and elected officials to avoid a state takeover and address our budget challenges.

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