Why  Oakland  instructors  are  on  strike

Why Oakland instructors are on strike

By Anne Rowe for DPS board, March 22, 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. — Educators in Oakland, California, went on strike Thursday, part of a national wave of discontent by educators over class conditions, pay and other issues. Current walkouts have actually taken location in West Virginia, Los Angeles and Denver.

The city’s 3,000 teachers want a 12 percent retroactive raise covering 2017 to 2020 to compensate for what they state are the amongst the lowest incomes for public school instructors in the expensive San Francisco Bay Location. They also desire the district to hire more therapists to assistance students and more full-time nurses.

Kindergarten instructor Kaki Blackburn, 30, was among lots picketing outside Manzanita Neighborhood School with signs saying “On strike For a Living Wage.”

Blackburn, who has 29 kids in her class, said her primary concerns were class size and salaries. She said her salary makes it difficult to afford an apartment or condo on her own.

Oakland instructors and students marched from the picket line at Oakland High School to downtown Oakland to rally for greater teacher pay and smaller class sizes. Photo by Narcelito Guinto Jr. / Youth Beat

Student photographers at Youth Beat, a PBS N ewsHour Trainee Reporting Lab in Oakland, California, recorded the first day of the teachers’ strike. Vernajah Walker is a junior at Oakland Technical High School who is being impacted by the strike, and Narcelito Guinto Jr. is a high school graduate and youth manufacturer with Youth Beat.

“There’s no method I’d be able to live here without a roommate,” she said. “This is not what I went to Brown University to get a master’s for.”

The union leader stated the educators were required to strike due to the fact that administrators did not listen to their needs for two years.

“For 2 years we have actually been working out with the Oakland Unified School District to make our students a priority over outside consultants and central workplace administrators,” stated Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown.

The district at first provided a 5 percent raise covering 2017 to 2020, saying it is squeezed by rising expenses and a budget plan crisis.

Demonstrators in downtown Oakland marched down Broadway and protested in front of the Oakland Unified School District main office. Photo by Vernajah Walker / Youth Beat

In negotiations Wednesday intended at averting a strike, the district increased its proposition to a 7 percent raise over 4 years and a one-time 1.5 percent perk. The offer went higher than the recommendation of an independent fact-finding report that suggested a compromise 6 percent retroactive raise.

But union officials declined the offer.

Oakland Unified School District spokesman John Sasaki stated school administrators hope to get a counter proposal from the union when negotiations resume Friday.

“We haven’t heard any proposition considering that last May so we’re hoping they have something for us when we meet tomorrow,” Sasaki said.

Teachers have been working without a contract given that 2017 and have stated their incomes have not kept up with the expense of living.

A starting wage in the district is $46,500 a year and the average salary is $63,000, according to the union. In surrounding Berkeley, a starting instructor makes $51,000 a year and the average wage is $75,000, the union stated.

The walkout affects 36,000 students at 86 schools.

Groups of trainees and youth signed up with the strike in support of Oakland teachers. Image by Narcelito Guinto Jr./ Youth Beat

The district said schools would remain open, staffed by non-union employees and substitute instructors. Nevertheless, moms and dads must not expect teaching as usual, it stated.

Manzanita Principal Eyana Spencer stated 14 of the school’s 450 trainees turned up for school Thursday and were placed in one class to play video games.

Thousands marched to city hall for a rally, shouting “We are Oakland!” Some held indications stating “Kids Deserve Much better.”

Teachers and protesters from throughout Oakland collected at City Hall for a rally in assistance of higher instructor pay. Picture by Narcelito Guinto Jr. / Youth Beat

“If teachers are anxious about how to pay their costs how can they focus on a lesson plan?” said Viviana Rodriguez, whose fifth-grade child joined her at the protest.

Nearly 600 instructors left their jobs at Oakland public schools last year, according to the union, which has said the district can not keep teachers or draw in skilled brand-new teachers.

The union has also called for the district to scrap strategies to close as many as 24 schools that serve mainly African-American and Latino trainees. The union fears further trainees will be lost to charter schools that drain more than $57 million a year from the district.

Recent strikes throughout the country have built on a wave of teacher advocacy that began last spring. Unions for West Virginia teachers, who staged a nine-day walkout last year, ended another two-day strike Wednesday. Last week, instructors in Denver ended a three-day walkout after reaching a tentative offer raising their wages.

Teachers in Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest school district, staged a six-day strike last month that ended when they settled on a 6- percent raise with assures of smaller class sizes and the addition of nurses and therapists.

Jocelyn Gecker and Olga R. Rodriguez from the Associated Press and trainees from the PBS N ewsHour Trainee Reporting Labs reported from San Francisco.

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