Nearly 3,000 teachers and other school staffers in Oakland, California are joining the nationwide wave of #RedForEd strikes on Thursday, demanding greater investment in the district’s public schools, students, and teachers—instead of a continuation of the recent unregulated growth of charter schools in the area.
As Oakland Education Association (OEA) president Keith Brown explained in the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday, the union is demanding an end to school closures in favor of pouring money into charter schools, enough school nurses and counselors to adequately serve the district’s 86 schools, raises for teachers, and smaller class sizes.
“Oakland can’t afford any more years of neglected, underfunded schools. If we stand idly by while the leadership of the Oakland Unified School District closes 24 out of 86 public schools, then students and families will pay the price for generations,” Brown wrote.
On picket lines in front of schools throughout the district, teachers carried signs reading, “Fund Our Future” and chanting, “On strike, shut it down, Oakland is a union town!”
In a tweeted video, Brown and the OEA shared how billionaires including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg have descended on Oakland public schools to influence school board elections, paving the way for the loss of many neighborhood schools and investment in charter schools.
“It’s time for OUSD (Oakland Unified School District) to pick a side. Are you on the side of billionaires who fund our school board races, or the side of teachers, students, parents, and community?” the union asked.
After two years of bargaining, the OEA was not satisfied with the latest offer from the OUSD, which came Wednesday and included a seven percent raise for teachers over three years.
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