Education

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…

During the teachers strike, “solidarity sites” provided safe places for students

When the Oakland teachers’ strike began, many volunteers joined forces to create “solidarity sites” across the city to support the teachers by giving students a safe place to stay while classes were cancelled. Bushrod Recreation Center was one of the fifteen recreation centers open for parents to drop off their kids so they wouldn’t have to cross the picket lines. Here, children got to play basketball, make crafts, and enjoy free meals provided by Bread for Ed, a food fund…

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…

An Oakland teacher explains why he’s going on strike

Today is the first day of the Oakland teachers’ strike. Public school teachers and staff gathered outside their schools to form picket lines, chanting and rallying support in their quest for smaller class sizes, higher wages, more student support services and a promise from the district that there will be no more school closures. Earlier this week, we followed Alejandro Estrada, a 4th grade teacher at International Community School and the union representative for his school, as he prepared to…

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…