“We always have money for wars but not for public education”
Oakland teachers and students speak as strike reaches critical juncture
28 February 2019
Teachers, students and other workers expressed their determination to fight on the fifth day of the strike by 3,000 educators in Oakland, California. In conversations with reporters from the World Socialist Web Site, teachers and their supporters also expressed anger over being kept in the dark by the Oakland Education Association (OEA) about the union’s backroom negotiations with the school district authorities and state Democrats.
Supporters of the WSWS Teacher Newsletter distributed leaflets calling on teachers to join the newly formed Oakland Rank-and-File Strike Committee, to take the conduct of the strike out of the hands of the OEA and fight for the broadest mobilization of teachers and all workers to stop all budget cuts and school closures and fight for a 30 percent pay increase and full funding for public education.
Phong, an Oakland native, who has taught in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) for nearly a decade, told reporters, “My job as a teacher pays me just enough to pay the rent, not including my car or bills or anything else, which is insane. I work two other jobs, including teaching classes at UC Davis (University of California-Davis), and work about 60 hours each week. No one should have to do that. The only thing that drives me is I love this environment and this group of students.”
He continued, “Many teachers in Oakland are forced to move into environments that aren’t safe, because they’re the only places where rent is affordable. And living in those environments, where there is gun violence and poverty, is not…