OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Is the school year completely over for Oakland public school students? More than 34,000 students and their parents are left in limbo as the teachers’ strike stretched into Day 5 Wednesday.
There’s only 11 school days left in the 2022-2023 academic year.
A stalemate between the Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland Education Association teachers union appeared to deepen on Wednesday when the district’s school board cancelled its regular board meeting. According to the union, the cancelation underscored the district’s leadership failures.
Thousands of teachers will not return to their classrooms until a new contract agreement is reached that includes “common good” proposals, the union said.
OUSD has kept its schools “open” throughout the strike, but most students chose to stay home rather than cross picket lines.
The teachers’ strike “should never have happened in the first place,” district officials wrote. OUSD President Mike Hutchinson reiterated that district officials will only bargain over teachers’ wages and working conditions. But that’s a far cry from what the union is demanding.
Since Day 1, union officials have said this strike is about teachers and students. OEA’s demands run the gamut:
- Use vacant school district buildings for housing for homeless students. Secure Section 8 vouchers from Alameda County and the Oakland Housing Authority to meet the housing needs of the families of all unhoused OUSD students. (More than 1,500 students are classified as “unhoused” in the district.)
- Terminate district administrative jobs before closing schools.
- Provide more school psychologists and counselors for students struggling with mental health.
- Pay raises for all teachers.
- Transform and invest in schools with 40 percent or more Black students, designated as Black Thriving Community Schools.
- Improve safety on school campuses to address violence, rat infestations, raw sewage, and leaky roofs.
- Provide more resources and support of Special Education students and teachers.
OEA union leaders wrote, “The strike by educators is and has been about more than a livable wage. ‘Common Good’ issues and the ability of educators to use their professional judgement to advocate for the needs of students also is subject to bargaining. OUSD doesn’t want to bargain over ‘Common Good’ issues.”
Union members and their supporters will rally Wednesday afternoon outside OUSD’s canceled school board meeting at La Escuelita Elementary at 1050 2nd Avenue. Parents and students will speak at the rally to challenge the district’s decision to cut special education programs mid-year. The cuts harmed students and caused massive disruptions, according to the union.
OUSD Superintendent Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell said the district’s negotiation team is working around-the-clock.
“Many of our 34,000 students were, again, home. I know this has been incredibly frustrating for our students and families. It is imperative that our students conclude the year positively with the many exciting and memorable experiences we cherish at this time of year,” Trammell said.
“The strike ends with OEA leadership calls it off. The more demands, and the greater the cost, the fewer that are addressed. That is the nature of bargaining everywhere,” Trammell said.
The NAACP Oakland branch is also urging the teachers union to end the strike. “We disagree with the decision to disrupt the critical end of the year learning and activities while the parties are still negotiating. We strongly urge the OEA to reconsider its decision to strike at such a critical time in the school year,” the NAACP Oakland president wrote.