Oakland Teachers Announce Official Strike Date

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Oakland teachers announced they will strike beginning Thursday at a press conference held at Oakland Education Association headquarters Saturday afternoon.

Keith Brown, president of the union and a teacher at Bret Harte Middle School, declined to put an expiration date on the action. The district expects students to continue attending classes and has offered replacements at a rate of $300 per day, nearly three times the going rate for classroom substitutes, in order to keep classes open despite claims of a looming fiscal crisis.

Oakland Education Association president Keith Brown announces official date Oakland teachers strike to begin at press conference held February 16, 2019 in Oakland, Calif. Photo by Betty Rose Livingston

In a Friday statement issued through the district’s website, Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said she had reviewed the independent fact-finding report, also issued on Friday, and hoped to continue negotiating a new contract.

“[W]e are pleased with the recommendations and find it to be a solid foundation for returning to the bargaining table,” Johnson-Trammell wrote.

Brown, however, said that the report substantiated each of OEA’s core grievances of low pay, large class sizes and poor working conditions. He said that OEA had exhausted all available options in the roughly one and a half years since the union last worked with a contract in July 2017.

“Bargaining with our school district has not worked,” Brown said.

Oakland teachers announce strike date at press conference held on February 16, 2019 in Oakland, Calif. Photo by Betty Rose Livingston

He blamed billionaire backers of charter schools, which have siphoned vital funds out of traditional public schools, further arguing that proliferation of charters led to a condition of de facto racial segregation.

Clarissa Doutherd, a parent of an Oakland student and former candidate for school board who spoke at the junket concurred, saying charter schools in the district were responsible for pushing minority students out of their schools.

“The black and brown families of Oakland have suffered enough displacement,” Doutherd said.

Sign at Oakland Education Association press conference where official teachers strike date was announced in Oakland, Calif. on February 16, 2019. Photo by Betty Rose Livingston

Doutherd was but one of many district parents in attendance. Others said they were setting up a network of “solidarity schools” to be hosted in community centers and public libraries for children whose parents did not want them to cross the picket line.

Brown stated that a $20,000 meal fund had been set up for those children without their usual access to the district’s free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs.

We will continue to update readers as more information becomes available.

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Nevin Long

Nevin Long

Nevin Long is a writer-reporter, film critic, and East Bay resident since 2009. When he's not slogging it in the rain after a mass demonstration he's writing about, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son, reading contemporary fiction, or kicking back and watching a movie so obscure not even the director's mother has heard of it.