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Oakland Teachers Will Soon Vote on Potential Strike

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As the teacher’s strike in Los Angeles comes to an end, the potential for a similar strike is growing in intensity for employees of Oakland Unified School District.

A group of teachers, parents and students plan to gather in protest at a Wednesday night meeting where the closure of Roots International Academy, an East Oakland middle school, will weighed as one of several measures to deal with the district’s “budget crisis.” An NBC Bay Area report indicates that as many as 24 schools could be on the chopping block in light of severe budget cuts. Opponents of the closures hope to “shut down” the meeting entirely.

Friday, Oakland teachers held the second “sick out”’ in two months as they rallied support for what could become a full-blown strike if their demands aren’t met. Three thousand members of the Oakland Education Association are scheduled to vote next week – the outcome will determine if the union is authorized to call for a district strike. Much like what we saw in Los Angeles, teachers and supporters are fed up and gearing up to make a stand against the deterioration of Oakland schools that threatens the quality of education for students and quality of life for teachers.

Union president Keith Brown released the following statement Sunday:

“If the district does not present a proposal that truly commits to ending the teacher retention crisis, that does not commit to lowering class sizes, investing in student support and investing in a living wage to keep teachers in Oakland, then it’s time for Oakland teachers to draw the line, and that line will be a picket line.”

According to an East Bay Times report, OUSD’s budget deficit is “expected to reach $56 million by the 2020-21 school year,” a forecast that does not favor the union’s demands. Although teacher salaries average a little over $63,000 a year, it should be noted that the cost to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Oakland averages around $2,500 per month. The median home value in the city runs just below $742,000 and Zillow estimates that number will increase by nearly 9 percent in the next year. For educators just beginning their careers, the $46,570 starting salary strains their ability to in live in the city where they teach.

Oakland teachers held “sick out” Jan. 18 as precursor to what could become a full-blown district strike. Photo courtesy of KRON 4

The teacher’s union is demanding a “12 percent raise over three years and smaller class sizes, and that the district hire more counselors and nurses.” The counter offer of a 5 percent raise does not come near a number that will convince the union, which has been out of contract since July 2017, not to strike.

More information will come following a “fact-finding” report to be issued by the board and subsequent votes on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1.

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.