We Need All Hands On Deck: The State of Public Education Is At Risk

Thousands of teachers woke up this morning in Oakland, California and instead of gathering lesson plans and making last minute copies, they grabbed their signs and hit the picket lines. Likewise, thousands of families dropped their students off at school this morning, some to join their teachers on the picket lines and some to attend schools being run by Oakland Unified staff members and substitute teachers. OUSD serves 36,000 students each day, most of which will be impacted by the strike taking place.

Thousands of families are facing an important decision today: either cross the picket line and attend schools where they know teachers will not be teaching as normal, or find alternative plans for the day. Many working families are left with a challenging situation given the privilege it takes to be able to take a day off of work to stay home with their children. ABC has compiled a list of resources with local options available to parents and families in the OUSD school district.

Teachers in Oakland are striking to combat the low wages they receive and to receive additional support for students at the various school sites across the district. Keith Brown, the president of teacher’s union told USA today in an earlier interview, “The proposal does not get at the essential heart of the matter, investing in our students by providing a living wage for our educators to keep them in Oakland.”

School districts around the country have been experiencing similar demands from teachers. Los Angeles Unified teachers participated in a week long strike, making similar demands as the Oakland Unified teachers are. This trend is not local to California, as teachers in Denver demanded similar conditions from its school district and were granted an additional $21.3 million towards teacher pay, following a three day strike.

Teachers in Oakland are arguing that the school district has the funds to spend on teachers and additional support staff for students, they are asking for more purposeful spending. This is the current state of public education in the United States right now. The teaching profession is becoming increasingly unsustainable, and teachers are leaving the profession by the numbers. It’s time for reprioritization of funding to include student learning and achievement before anything else. Our students deserve to walk into their classroom and see a qualified teacher every day. As adults, we need to make this basic expectation the reality. It’s time for adults to get to work.

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Daniela Felix

Daniela Felix

Daniela is a first generation college student who is heavily involved in education in her home district, West Contra Costa Unified. After becoming a mother at a young age, Daniela’s passion for education justice only intensified and she began to fight for an equitable education for all children, regardless of background or zip code. Daniela played a key role in organizing parents with the California Charter Schools Association and is a firm believer in school choice for all families. She is currently a Lead Organizer with Students for Education Reform, organizing college students around education justice issues in her home district. She was recently accepted into Teach for America and plans to continue impacting the lives of children in her hometown of Richmond, CA as a high school social studies teacher. Daniela is a UC Berkeley senior pursuing her B.A. in Legal Studies and Education along with her 4 year old daughter and husband. Daniela is a firm believer in that every single child is capable of meeting high expectations if given the correct support. Daniela hopes to be a provider of that support.

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