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Thousands Of Teachers March In Downtown Los Angeles As Strike Looms

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Thousands of teachers who may go on strike against the nation's second-largest school district next month marched and rallied in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday.

United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union estimates 50,000 were there.

The crowd had relief from overcrowding at the top of their wish list.

RELATED: Mediation Fails Between LAUSD, Teachers Union; Potential Strike Looms

"The classroom sizes are too big," said LAUSD teacher Veronica Pepe.

UTLA teachers and supporters wore red for unity. They are seeing red over LAUSD's reluctance to part with more green.

"I want to see investment in the schools and in the kids," said LAUSD parent Carmen Montecito.

UTLA says if LAUSD would just tap in to its almost $2 billion reserve fund it could solve a lot of problems.

"It's unconscionable to hold on to that money acting like kids don't need it now. We need it now," said UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl.

He and the district have negotiated for 20 months.

CBSLA reached out to LAUSD a few times for this story and got no response.

LAUSD's latest proposal adds more teachers and reduces class sizes in communities with the highest need. And a 6 percent pay raise for teachers.

"We are really underpaid in the first place. We take a lot of money from our personal money to be able to do our work in the classroom," said LAUSD teacher Melinda Adams.

A report from LAUSD and UTLA representatives and a neutral participant should come out early next week providing insight to both sides.

If UTLA isn't satisfied they are prepared to strike in mid-to-late January.

Retired teacher John Perez went through two UTLA strikes -- 1970 and 1989. He sees another one coming and like many at the march, he blames LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner.

"Beutner wants to privatize the system and the teachers don't want to privatize the system. They want a public education system," said Perez.

"We are here fighting for the survival and thriving of public education," said Caputo-Pearl.

They finished the march at The Broad for a reason. They want to send a message to Eli Broad. They believe he favors private schools over public schools. They don't like it.

(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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