Meeting on Oakland school closure expresses hostility to attacks on public education
24 December 2018
Last Tuesday, over 150 parents, students, educators and community members attended a public meeting to protest the planned closure of Roots International Academy, a middle school that serves low-income youth in East Oakland, California. After listening to district representatives attempt to justify the closure, numerous attendees spoke out forcefully against it and in favor of expanding public education funding and resources.
Roots is one of 24 public schools in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) that are slated to be closed or merged with other public schools over the next five years as part of the district’s and state’s savage assault on public education, which includes district budget cuts of $60 million over the next two years. All 24 schools slated for closure or merger are located in the “flatlands” regions of East and West Oakland, where poverty and crime are far more prevalent than in the rest of the city.
In response to this unprecedented attack on education in Oakland, the city’s working class residents are beginning to mobilize. Among Oakland teachers, who have been working without a contract since July 2017, there is growing sentiment for a statewide teachers strike to unite with Los Angeles teachers, who last week announced that they will begin striking on January 10.
Two weeks ago, roughly 100 Oakland teachers engaged in a wildcat “sickout” strike, largely out of frustration over the stalled negotiations and lack of initiative from the Oakland Education Association (OEA) teachers union. The union has been dragging its feet and has done next to nothing to prepare teachers for a potential strike.
The OEA has largely…