Education

OUSD board refuses to postpone school closings, prompting more to join hunger strike

Even after students threatened to join a hunger strike and community members promised backlash, the Oakland Unified School District board voted to proceed with the plan to close seven schools during an emergency meeting Friday night.  “This isn’t going to stop anything, this is the start of it,” said school director Mike Hutchinson, after a motion to postpone the closures for one year failed. “I warned you.” Under the plan, Community Day School and Parker K-8 will close at the…

Seven OUSD schools to close, one spared; board votes despite pleas from children

After more than three hours of heartfelt pleadings from dozens of people, including more than 70 children, the Oakland school board voted 4-2-1 Tuesday night to close seven schools in the next two years. The issue has pitted the community against the Oakland Unified School District board since it was announced in January that eight schools could close and 15 others could merge as a way to reduce the budget by $50 million. The backlash was swift, unified and emotional….

Parents, students, teachers make final push to keep their schools from closing

The Oakland Unified School District board is expected to vote Tuesday night on a controversial proposal to close or merge up to 15 schools in the next two years to help shrink its budget deficit.  Over the weekend, parents, students, educators and community leaders rallied at campuses at risk of closure in a last-ditch effort to persuade school board members to reconsider the plan. Oakland Unified has experienced enrollment declines and budget shortfalls in recent years. Pressured by the Alameda…

Protesters rally outside OUSD directors’ homes against plan to close schools

A caravan of vehicles that stretched for blocks paraded through the streets of Oakland Thursday evening, honking in solidarity against the Oakland Unified School District’s plan to close eight schools and merge others.  The caravan slowly made its way through the streets, stopping at the home of OUSD Director Sam Davis, where dozens of people, old and young, showed up with handwritten signs and posters that read “No School Closures!” After protesting for an hour, the caravan moved across the city to…

OUSD students on verge of strike over COVID-19 measures

With more than 800 student cases of COVID-19 in Oakland schools, students have threatened to go on strike this week unless the district does more to keep them and their teachers safe. Students petitioned the district last week for KN95/N95 masks for every student, twice-weekly coronavirus testing and more outdoor spaces where they can eat when it rains. They plan to stay home this week and strike outside district headquarters on Friday if their demands aren’t met this week, according…

‘A school library is so important’: Community effort to reopen and staff more OUSD libraries

Every day Samantha Solomon opens the Calvin Simmons Library to students at United Success Academy and Life Academy in Oakland. She greets each child by name as they file in during their lunch breaks to read, play games, do homework or converse with each other.  The library serves both schools, which share a building, and Solomon has been its teacher librarian since it reopened five years ago, after nine years of being closed.  “A special thing about libraries is that…

Woodwork, glassware, metal pieces, leather: Annual GIFTY market returns for holiday shopping

Christa Cesario picks out a pair of colorful, handmade wooden earrings and holds them up to her ear.  “I came to buy a gift for my mom, and ended up buying one for myself,” she says. Cesario is among thousands of people who are expected to visit The Crucible’s annual GIFTY Craft Show & Open House this weekend in Oakland. The 56,000-square-foot industrial artists’ space is hosting approximately 70 artists, including woodworkers, glassblowers, beadmakers, neon artists, metalworkers, and leatherworkers, many…

East Oakland scraper bike program gives kids a chance to safely cycle

Beside bikes dazzling with brightly colored tape and foil, about a dozen East Oakland elementary school children excitedly, in unison, recited their ABCs:   “Air, brakes, chains.”  The kids learned the drill to check bike parts during a new six-week, after-school bike course this fall for children at Brookfield and Madison Park elementary schools. Mentors from The Scraper Team and the nonprofit Higher Ground launched the program to teach kids about bicycle safety and maintenance in a neighborhood that has very…

Reparations task force gets to work closing gaps for Black students in Oakland schools

Black mothers are leading calls for change and reparations in the Oakland Unified School District.  Pecolia Manigo Awobodu, a mother of three in Oakland public schools, said she’s watched her children experience disparities when trying to access resources at school. And she’s heard countless similar stories from other Black mothers in the district.  “I have experienced the pain and the joy of raising Black children in Oakland schools,” said Manigo Awobodu. “I am grounded in that experience in real ways.”…