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New measure extends the working hours of Oakland’s Public Libraries

A man sat on a bench in the Oakland Main Library branch on a recent overcast Monday and asked for the time. It was 5:34 p.m. “What time do they close?” he asked. The branch used to close at 5:30 p.m on Mondays—but as of April 1, it closes at 8 p.m. The man settled into the bench and said he might stick around longer. For the first time in 15 years, Oakland Public Library staffers have extended their hours…

Faced with budget cuts, the future of school libraries in Oakland is uncertain

While the teachers’ strike ended weeks ago, the Oakland Unified School District’s financial troubles are far from over. Less than 24 hours after the strike, on March 4, the school board narrowly voted to cut $22 million dollars from next year’s budget. The move was to keep the district from financial ruin, but school libraries are among the programs being affected by the cuts. We focused on the story of just one library at Frick Impact Academy in East Oakland…

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…

Alameda County supervisors vote to to scale back, shift focus of Urban Shield

After more than five hours of public comment and heated debate, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to approve nearly all of an ad hoc committee’s recommendations to demilitarize the county’s controversial Urban Shield annual training program. They voted 4-0 to eliminate SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) deployment exercises and the event’s weaponry and military gadget show, shifting the focus of the training event to natural disaster preparedness. The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office launched the annual Urban…

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…

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