On Thursday, Oakland teachers, who have made their six-day strike about protecting and preserving local public schools, bore witness as the Oakland Teachers Strike became a community movement. Members of
OEA members began the morning as strong and committed as they were on Day 1, feeding on the support of parents, students, and community members who have come out in the thousands to stand with teachers committed to ending the unbridled expansion of private for-profit charter schools in Oakland.
At mid-day, a mass of teachers, parents, and students gathered in Frank Ogawa Plaza in a show of community solidarity with OEA leaders and their negotiating team. Among those
Speaking for OEA leadership, Vice President Ismael Armendariz reminded OEA members that their collective strength was making all the difference in reaching a deal with OUSD; “At last night’s bargain that went to 5:00 AM, OUSD finally realized it can’t do business as usual anymore.”
CTA President Eric Heins reminded strikers; ‘When you’re asking for a living wage and no public school closures, you are fighting for your students!’
After the speeches, members gathered pickets signs and waved receipts from purchases made with their own money for classroom supplies as they marched to nearby Elihu M. Harris State Building, where both bargaining teams are continuing negotiations.
As they marched to the state building, there was a pervasive sense of connection and community between educators and parents who have stood steadfastly in defense of the student-centered agenda the teachers have continuously championed.
At day’s end, OEA members moved into the foyer inside the state building where bargaining was taking place, demanding a settlement that preserves local public schools, pays a livable wage and ensures investment in local schools by ending the practice of approving additional for-profit charter schools that is a direct cause of the closure of several of Oakland’s local public schools.
This movement has also created an expectation that any settlement reached should honor the principles set forth by teachers; namely, better classroom funding, comparable pay that enables teachers to stay in the East Bay, and class sizes that will maximize student learning opportunities.
It is a movement that OUSD officials should take care to honor.