Parents drop off their kids to Piedmont Elementary in Oakland during the first week of school.

Zarina Ahmad, principal of Piedmont Avenue Elementary in Oakland, put extra effort this year into creating a bright first day of school. She and her staff pasted a class list to the outside wall, with a photo of each teacher. Big orange cones separated children by their grades. Teachers ran a short pep rally, called the “Line Up to Learn.” Uniformed Oakland firemen welcomed kids into the school.

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With the new school year approaching, Oakland North sits down with the newly hired Oakland Education Association (OEA) president, Trish Gorham. In this wide-ranging interview, the new head of the teachers’ union discusses school closures, the small schools movement, inequity among Oakland schools, the Lakeview protest, the challenges facing Oakland’s teachers and much more.

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During a closed meeting on Wednesday, the Alameda Central Labor Council—an organization that represents over 100 workers’ unions and helps employers bargain to improve their workplaces—decided against a motion to sanction a workers’ picket line in front of Lakeview Elementary School which would have prevented unionized workers employed by the district from helping to develop the site into administrative offices.

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Over one hundred people gathered at Splash Pad Park on Sunday for a “Celebration and Convergence for Public Education” concert and rally hosted by the supporters of the Lakeview sit-in and People’s School for Public Education. The park became a home for the People’s School after the volunteer-run program, and the tent city it served, were raided at Lakeview Elementary School in early July.

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On Monday evening the Alameda Central Labor Council—an organization that represents over 100 workers’ unions and helps employers bargain to improve their workplaces—considered a motion to get school workers’ unions behind an effort to form a sanctioned picket line in front of the closed Lakeview Elementary School to prevent district officials from moving into the building to use it as an administrative office, according to Oakland Education Association (OEA) members.

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