Oakland teachers continue walkout over pay, classroom conditions

Teachers in the district become the fourth in the nation within the last two months to leave the classrooms demanding better wages and environments for educating children

Teachers, students and supporters rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. Teachers in Oakland, California, went on strike Thursday in the country's latest walkout by educators over classroom conditions and pay. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Following the strikes in Los Angeles, Denver, and West Virginia, Oakland is the latest school district with a large Black population to have teachers walk out so far this year.

On Friday, teachers with the Oakland Unified School District entered the second day of their district-wide strike demanding pay raises and smaller class sizes from administrator, according to East Bay Times.

Oakland Unified teachers and some charter schools rallied outside of Roots International Academy in East Oakland before a negotiating meeting on Friday morning.

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On Thursday, thousands of teachers, counselors, nurses, and supporters joined forces for the strike, which resulted in 36,000 students not attending class at the district’s 86 schools. Fill-in teachers and administrative staff were left to supervise.

According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, Oakland has a population of about 300,000 with 109,000 African Americans. It has about 28,000 school-aged Black children.

Keith Brown, Oakland Education Association president, did not say whether union negotiators will make a counter-offer to the district’s latest proposal during the meeting, or what the union’s offer might entail at the rally on Friday.

“Our bargaining team is coming in in a position of strength,” Brown said. “They represent what the community wants for public education in Oakland.”
“We will remain on the picket lines until we see a proposal that addresses the changes we must have for our students,” he added.

Picketers changed “No contract, no peace,” after he made his remarks.

The teachers union are fighting for a 12 percent pay bump over three years, unlike the 7 percent raise and 1.5 percent one-time bonus, the administration is now offering. The initial raise was 5 percent.

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Teachers are also requesting for class sizes to be downsized by two students each. This is contrary to the one student per class at most schools, and two students per classroom for the schools of what the district says has the “most vulnerable students.”

John Sasaki, District spokesman said the district is hoping that there will be a new proposal from the union after requesting to increase its offer.