The Oakland Teacher Strike has moved into its seventh day today. This is the first teacher strike in over 20 years in Oakland. The Oakland Unified School District has reported that only about six percent of students have attended school each day. The impact of the lack of students and teachers in school has meant that the Oakland Unified School District has lost about $1 million dollars per day as a result of low school attendance, according to a district official quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle.
On day 5 of the strike, thousands of teachers and supporters rallied outside the school board meeting location demanding that the meeting be cancelled and were victorious in these efforts. This was the meeting set to discuss the budget cuts and planned school closures in the district, the meeting is set to take place at a later date.
The teacher’s union, Oakland Education Association, has demanded a 12 percent pay raise for teachers in Oakland who are struggling to meet their basic living demands in the Bay Area. According to a San Francisco CBS article, “The teachers’ union is seeking a 12 percent pay raise over three years and the district previously offered a 5 percent raise over three years but last week made a new offer of 8.5 percent over four years.” The Oakland Education Association rejected this offer and argued that this amount was simply not enough to cover the rising living costs in the Bay Area.
The low teacher pay in Oakland hasn’t been the only reason for the strike, the argument against the many charter schools in Oakland has also been a factor. The argument against charter schools and “privatization” has been a main concern of the Oakland Education Association, who claim that charters are draining money from traditional district schools in Oakland Unified. However, the Oakland Education Association has called for a Charter Educator Day of Solidarity and is asking teachers from charter schools in the Bay Area to take a sick day as a way of showing solidarity with the teachers in Oakland. Since the strike’s first day on Monday, some local charter educators have called out sick and have joined the teachers in solidarity. Andy Marshall-Buselt, an educator at a local charter high school, told La Comadre the reasons he is choosing to walk the picket lines with neighbors at a local, traditional public school. He stated,
“We believe the current moment is critical in the fight for quality and equitable education across the country. We recognize that we as charter school educators are in a unique position to raise our voices and demonstrate with our actions that we are with you in this shared struggle for the changes we know are needed.”
Mr. Marshall-Buselt joins many charter educators around the Bay Area who believe they are arguing that the conditions that the teacher strike is challenging. Charter educators are also facing, including low wages, high work loads and unmanageable class sizes and have decided to join in the fight.
As a fellow educator in the Bay Area, I would like to see teachers’ needs being met in order to have teachers return to their classrooms and resume teaching and learning for students. It is very important that educators make the decision that is best for them and take a stance that supports students receiving the education they deserve.
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