After more than a year of contract negotations with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), thousands of public teachers went on strike this week for the first time in three decades. Today (January 18), the walkout entered its fifth day as tens of thousands of teachers, parents, students and supporters rallied in downtown Los Angeles to demand better pay, smaller class sizes, a reduction of standardized testing and more support staff for students.

United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA)—a union that represents roughly 35,000 public school educators—called for the weeklong strike. Union organizers are also taking aim at the growing number of independently managed charter schools, which they say drain money and resources from public education.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest in the nation and it is blatantly segregated. Nearly 75 percent of its students are Latinx and more than 80 percent of them receive free or reduced lunch. Per The New York Times, the city’s wealthy population has historically chosen to send its children to higher performing schools outside the public school district.  

From The Times:

For generations, California has spent less on public schools than many other states, despite Democratic control and an influential state teachers’ union. The state spent about half as much as New York did on the average student in 2016, the last year for which federal comparisons were available. Even now, with a $209 billion state budget with record-high reserves, that appears unlikely to drastically change. After decades of funding shortages, educators say that Los Angeles and other urban schools need far more than what they currently have to educate some of the neediest students in the country.

The school district’s annual budget is another major focal point. UTLA is calling on LAUSD to spend its nearly $2 billion in reserves to make class sizes smaller and hire more nurses, counselors and school psychologists. 

See a full list of the demands here and scenes from today’s action below: