It’s  official:  Oakland  instructors  walk  out  for  more  pay,  extra  support  personnel

It’s official: Oakland instructors walk out for more pay, extra support personnel

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, March 13, 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. – More than 3,000 instructors and personnel strolled off the job and onto picket lines Thursday, declaring they are amongst the lowest-paid teachers in the Bay Location and requiring a 12 percent pay hike over 3 years.

Waving indications and chanting bilingual slogans, including “Up with instructors. Down with school closures” and “Education, not incarceration,” scores rallied outside Manzanita Community School on a warm however chilly day.

“Today is a historic day in the city of Oakland,” Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown told the abundant crowd. “Teachers, teachers are unified with moms and dads and students – and we are requiring that we have the schools our trainees be worthy of.”

The district’s last deal of a 7 percent raise over 4 years and a 1.5 percent benefit is not enough for Oakland instructors to live in the expensive Bay Location, Brown stated. 

Brown stated wages variety from $47,000 to $84,000, depending on experience. According to an analysis from Zillow, an earner in the lower range would have to spend more than 90 percent of his or her monthly income to pay for the typical home mortgage in the typical Alameda County house, or about 80 percent for the common month-to-month rent.

A neutral fact-finder advised 6 percent over the first two years of the agreement, and a third year the subject of further negotiation.

“Teachers are standing up and telling the Oakland Unified School District that it’s time to listen to moms and dads and the community. It is time to reinvest in our public schools,’’ Brown informed the crowd as death chauffeurs beeped their support. “We can not feed young minds and starve the schools out of necessary resources.’’

Patrick Vaughn and his son Whitworth, a 3rd grader , rally in Oakland, Calif., on Feb. 21, 2019.

Rep. Barbara Lee‏, D-Calif., said she supported the striking instructors.

“They are worthy of a living wage and the tools they need to give our kids the really best education,” she said, adding that she was hoping for a “quick arrangement” that would get the district’s 36,000 trainees back in class.

The teachers are the third group of public school teachers from one of the nation’s 50 largest cities to strike this year after their Los Angeles and Denver counterparts. Chicago likewise had a charter school teachers’ strike.

Teachers throughout the state of West Virginia returned to work Thursday, ending a two-day strike. Union leaders there stated they were confident lawmakers would not try to tie a raise for instructors to funds for the state’s first charter schools.

In Oakland, educators have worked without a agreement given that mid-2017 and want their pay raise retroactive. They’re also asking for more nurses, assistance counselors and other assistance staff and a stop to plans that could outcome in two dozens schools being closed.

“Do we starve our public area schools so that they are cut and privatized or do we re-invest in our public area schools for our students and for a flourishing city?” the state Education Association said in a tweet Thursday. “Oakland instructors state re-investment.”

Pastor Patrick Vaughn and his third-grade kid Whitworth signed up with the picket line to show uniformity. They are delighted with the instructors at Manzanita SEED, a dual-immersion school on the exact same school as Manzanita Neighborhood School.

Vaughn also has a kindergartner at the school, and he values his kids growing up with a multilingual education. At 8, Whitworth comprehends Spanish well and has a much better accent than his daddy, a Spanish significant in college.

But Vaughn is concerned that so many teachers are leaving.

“To be a city that flourishes and flourishes, we need to have great teachers, and instructors who stick around,’’ Vaughn stated. “We’ve had a lot of turnover at our school in the 4 years we’ve been here. It’s understandable. Oakland’s such an expensive city to live in.’’

First-grade teacher Estefana Ramos said the community needs to understand that schools won’t be shut down. The city’s 86 public schools now serve 36,000 students.

“It is not easy to be a teacher in a class with 25 wiggling first-graders on the run,” he stated. “And to understand in the back of my mind that the school is at threat of being closed down.”

Andrik Cardenas, who runs a mental-health consulting business along with his spouse, is offering at the Dimond Park Rec Center, which is serving as a “solidarity school.’’

Cardenas and his other half, who was hosting five kids at their home, have two children in Oakland’s Sequoia Elementary. He used a red Tee shirts on Thursday that checked out, “Teachers are the heart of Oakland.”

“When we found out this was a possibility, we started working on, ‘What are we going to do? How do we aid families who are helpful of the strike but wear’t have a lot of choices?’” he said. “That’s really what this location is about. That’s the intent of the solidarity schools.”

Cardenas said they have only gotten about 10 kids today, even though they have capacity for 40, but that’s mostly because the strike started on a Thursday and numerous parents felt like they could manage until the weekend. That may modification if the strike lasts into next week.

“If nothing is solved, I believe we’re going to see some increased demand going into next week,” he said. “We have a schedule (of parent volunteers), but it has actually been challenging to fill all the slots.’’

After a rally in front of City Hall, a crowd of a few hundred, most of them bring signs with messages such as “Keep teachers in Oakland, fund our schools,” marched toward the Oakland Unified School District headquarters.

There, Futures Primary teacher Magdaline Armstrong regreted the number of associates she has actually seen come and go because they can’t manage to live in the area.

“Students are the ones who are suffering the a lot of,” Armstrong said, “because our district won’t pay sufficient to bring in excellent teachers or to keep excellent instructors.”