OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Corrin Haskell, an Oakland Teacher, spoke to KRON4 about the importance of today’s strike.

“We know these schools are more than buildings. These are the rocks of the community and we know how important they are to our parents, our children and the communities.”

Teacher’s in Oakland went on strike Friday to protest the closing and merging of 11 schools.

As a result, the district asked parents to keep their kids home from school.

KRON4 talked with parents and teachers who took part in the strike.

The district says enrollment isn’t high enough to keep the schools open, but teachers on strike and parents joining them in protest say these schools are a lifeline for black and brown communities.

Oakland educators were up early Friday. Starting their day on strike with pickets at school sites in the city, then uniting for a rally at Lake Merritt. A giant crowd asking the Unified School District not to follow through with its plan to close 11 schools.

The first three are scheduled for June. 

Haskell teaches science at Brookfield Elementary School. He says his school is on the chopping block next year and that it’s the students who will suffer if forced to attend a school further from home.

“Through some unsafe streets, for the lack of a better term. It’s just not an ideal environment for young children to be walking through. Especially with all the street crime,” he told KRON4.

Haskell and other protestors made their way from Lake Merritt to Oakland City Hall.

Joined by parents like Max Orozco, who’s daughter goes to the La Escuelita School.

He says the middle school there is one of the three closing in June.

“Them cutting the wings of our students, they are giving them a straight path to juvie,” Orozco said. 

The Oakland Unified School district asked parents to keep their kids home Friday, since there wouldn’t be enough staff to teach them. In a statement to KRON 4, OUSD said: “While most students across the District stayed home today with excused absences, some did come to school. Our focus right now is ensuring that they are having a positive experience on campus.”

The district sent a letter to the teacher’s union last weekend saying that a strike would only hurt students missing out on a day of in-person instruction. Orozco disagrees and says his daughter is learning how to fight for a cause.

Frustrated that the closures are planned for schools made up mostly of black and brown students.

“We are a big family. What the district is doing is actually breaking this family apart,” Orozco said.

Haskell says the election in November will be crucial for the future of Oakland’s schools with three school board positions and the mayor’s seat being voted on.