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Letter of Support from Geffen Academy


Devin Serrano, Ph.D.
UCLA PreK-12 Programs and Schools
3321 Moore Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

23 January 2023

Dear Superintendent Serrano:

We, the undersigned Geffen Academy at UCLA Educators, are writing to you in support of the UCLA Lab School Demonstration Teachers. We know that the Lab School teachers have voted to strike on January 25-26 because of their concerns regarding the university’s failure to bargain in good faith. In order to avoid a strike, we ask that the university return to the bargaining table to bargain over various issues, including guaranteed planning time, professional development funding, instructional supports to meet the needs of all students, and an evaluation process based on standards for K-12 instruction. We aim through this letter to convey how helpful finalizing negotiations on these topics was to us as Geffen Academy Educators and, we believe, for all stakeholders in the process.

In the Spring of last year, the Unit 18 Educators at Geffen Academy completed their bargaining on the above-mentioned subjects, and now have a Geffen Academy Educators Memorandum that provides greater clarity about appointment and merit increases, instructional support, professional concerns, instructional workload, and the academic calendar. The process of bargaining (asking questions, sharing information, clarifying how the policies reflect the work of Educators and reinforce the school’s mission/values) helped establish/clarify/reinforce a shared set of expectations that helps students. For example, the school now has specific guidelines/processes linked to observations/performance evaluations that provides greater clarity about effective teaching. The guidelines provided in the side letter about performance evaluation reinforces the school’s mission of teachers being reflective, which helps them improve as teachers. For example, the process includes a self evaluation, pre-meeting discussion, observation, and a post-meeting discussion. In the past, the evaluation process differed across departments; some departments had observations, some did not, and there was not a clearly defined or accessible rubric for the evaluation process. The Memorandum established a consistent process for evaluations at our school. Clarity and consistency is important for equity, which echoes our commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This kind of transparency also reinforces administration’s and teachers’ goal of supporting students, since teachers’ working conditions are student learning conditions, and teachers who feel secure in their jobs put down the kind of curricular roots that allow good classes to become exceptional.

Additionally, GA Educators were heartened to get enshrined in their Memorandum a means of assessing instructional workload and an internal process for reviewing and redressing workload issues. We also achieved school-wide clarity about Educators’ responsibilities for substituting for each others’ classes, which helps not only make this responsibility more equitable, but also helps avoid Educator burnout.

When an administration refuses to bargain in good faith it creates a situation that could be inequitable. Having an equitable and transparent way to manage and review workload, compensation, and evaluation is central to building a campus that can attract and retain a stable educator body.

We know that the Lab School Demonstration Teachers are dedicated to supporting their students. We can attest to their fantastic work, in part because we teach many Lab School alumni. Teachers at the Lab School want to be in the classroom continuing their excellent work. However, the months of delay and the university’s failure to bargain in good faith has made the Lab School teachers’ situation untenable. We strongly urge you to return to the bargaining table and resume bargaining in good faith. The negotiation of a Lab School Side Letter that is an accurate reflection of the work the teachers do and which also supports the mission of the Lab School, will result in a stronger school and university community. We speak from experience in this process.


The undersigned Geffen Academy Educators
For comparison, here's the 44 page
Geffen Academy Memorandum 2022-2026