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Wyatt Kroopf

School budget woes strain the bonds between Oakland foster youth and their case managers

There are just under 400 foster youth attending Oakland schools, and for many, one person at their school is dedicated to them: their case manager. This counselor provides support and offers one-on-one guidance—academically and for other issues that may arise outside of school. The Oakland Unified School District has four case managers for foster youth, but their jobs were threatened in March, when the school board passed budget cuts eliminating their positions. After a sustained effort by students to push…

Oakland Unified School District plans to eliminate 100 classified workers’ positions

Melvin Phillips has worked in Oakland schools for the last 27 years. He is currently the lead school security officer at Fremont High School and he is one of hundreds of classified employees in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). Classified workers include instructional specialists like classroom support staff and tutors, administrative workers, custodians, security officers, and other school staff. During the Oakland teachers’ strike last month, classified workers joined the teachers on the picket lines in a sympathy strike….

Oakland City Council gives schools $1.2 million in one-time funding for the school year

Last Tuesday, the Oakland City Council passed a resolution to provide $1.2 million in funding for the Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) restorative justice program, foster youth case manager positions, and school libraries. All three programs were at risk of enacting widespread layoffs or reductions to the services they provide following the Oakland school board’s vote last month to cut about $22 million from the district’s budget. When introducing the resolution, Council President Rebecca Kaplan (at-large) highlighted how each of…

Dream Beyond Bars report offers a new way to study the effects of youth incarceration

About two years ago, when Xochtil Larios was in Alameda County Juvenile Hall in San Leandro, she decided to do more than just participate in classes and programs. “I didn’t feel like it was enough for me. I felt like the girls in there deserved better,” she said. During a session on vision boarding, Larios met staff members from Communities United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), an Oakland nonprofit that works to empower young people affected by the criminal justice…

At Oakland school board meeting, debate over school closures and charter schools intensifies

Tensions from the recent Oakland teachers’ strike were still reverberating among attendees during a special meeting for the Board of Education on Wednesday night. Hundreds of people filled the auditorium at La Escuelita Education Complex, holding small green signs that set the theme for the night. One side of the signs read “No new charters.” On the other: “No school closures.” Many in the crowd wore the black and green of the Oakland Education Association (OEA)—the teachers’ union—or red, the…

Oakland’s schools are open again, but tension remains over budget cuts, teacher contract

The Oakland teachers’ strike officially ended on Sunday evening, but the debate over their contract and district budget cuts is still not over. The vote on Sunday was far from unanimous. Members of the teachers’ union—the Oakland Education Association—gathered at the Paramount Theater for four hours of debate before voting on whether or not to approve the tentative agreement, or TA, reached by union and the Oakland Unified School District. Teachers held signs that read “Say no to the sellout…

Teachers, Oakland school district strike a tentative deal

On Friday afternoon, just as Oakland’s school board meeting was supposed to start, a union representative wearing red–the symbol of the “Red for Ed” movement that has galvanized teachers’ strikes across the nation–stepped in front of the crowd and announced that teachers and school officials had reached a tentative four-year agreement. If ratified, it will end the strike that has shut down Oakland schools for the last seven days. Among the provisions: Teachers will receive an 11 percent raise, as…

On the fifth day of their strike, Oakland teachers force cancellation of a school board meeting

On the fifth day of their strike, Oakland teachers shut down a school board meeting. Starting in the early afternoon on Wednesday, teachers and their supporters picketed outside of the La Escuelita Education Complex. By the time the meeting was set to start, thousands of teachers, parents, and students were marching all around the building. Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) officials released a statement postponing the meeting. The school board had been set to vote on about $21.75 million in…

Oakland’s teacher strike concludes its second day

On Friday morning, Oakland teachers returned to the picket lines as their strike entered its second day. The bargaining teams from the Oakland Education Association (OEA)—the teachers’ union—and the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) met in the morning to resume negotiations but as of 4 pm Friday afternoon, had not come to any resolution. The two sides have been negotiating on a new contract for over two years; teacher pay and class sizes have been the main sticking points in…

Oakland teachers strike for higher wages, smaller classes

Early Thursday morning, Oakland teachers went on strike, calling for a pay raise and a reduction in class sizes. As early as 6 am, teachers gathered—equipped with coffee, jackets, and beanies to withstand the chilly morning weather—and started to picket in front of their schools. The strike follows two years of failed negotiations between the Oakland Education Association, which represents teachers as well as school nurses, counselors and other staff, and the Oakland Unified School District. The teachers have been working…

Lawsuit challenges Oakland’s certification of education funding tax Measure AA

Two weeks ago, a business advocacy group sued the city of Oakland over its certification of Measure AA, a tax initiative from the November election that would create a fund for more early childhood education programs. The lawsuit—filed by the Jobs and Housing Coalition, along with a group of property owners—argues that the city council thwarted the will of Oakland voters by certifying the measure even though it failed to earn support from two-thirds of the voters. The measure, also…

Chapel of the Chimes

Inside the Chapel of the Chimes in North Oakland, it is quiet. The hum of daily life just outside—cars passing by, construction work, a breeze—disappears. It is the type of place where visitors whisper even though there are no rules against talking. Many of the visitors come to mourn or pay respects to a loved one, whose remains reside among thousands and thousands of others here. On this Monday morning, there are only a few visitors wandering—that’s all one can…

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