3,000 Oakland Education Members hit the pavement Thursday for Day One of a strike seeking to improve education and support for Oakland Unified School District students, stop the dramatic turnover of Oakland teachers, and end the devastating school closures and financial harm caused by unfettered growth of charter schools. The walkout, which comes after two years of failed negotiations, has again put the national spotlight on the need to fully fund public education, and on the housing and cost-of-living crisis that forces many full-time teachers to take up second jobs to make ends meet, or to leave the profession altogether.
Educators on early morning picket lines were joined by supportive parents, students, and community members at OUSD’s 86 school sites, while many students who stayed out of class showed their support at “solidarity schools” set up in churches, libraries and recreation centers. Others attended a massive midday rally in Oscar Grant Plaza. “We are making history today,” said OEA President Keith Brown. “We are together as the Oakland community and we stand on the side of students!” Educators from charter schools joined the picket lines and rally, and teachers at some privately run Oakland charter schools held sickouts or sympathy strikes.
With massive student absences Thursday, and with classrooms staffed by unqualified replacements, OUSD principals asked Superintendent Kyra Johnson-Trammel to close Oakland schools during the strike over safety concerns. The administrators’ union issued a supportive press release stating, “As our Oakland teachers go on strike, we strongly support their fight for smaller class sizes, more support for students, and a living wage for educators.”
Negotiations were scheduled to resume Friday as the strike enters its second day.