We all side with teachers, custodians, and all the other underpaid folks working for the babies and hardly making it themselves. It should not be like this in a rich state in a rich country. Many of us also worry about the students and families that really need the schools, and what it means to them to miss weeks or months of instruction, or worse yet, be in unsafe circumstances. Charles Cole, an Oakland Alum and activist for students, shared his memories of being a student in the 90’s on the latest 8 Black Hands Podcast looking at the Oakland teacher strike.
His story starts at roughly 22:30 in the podcast.
“There were fights every day, I remember somebody getting stabbed”
Charles Cole III- “I grew up her in Oakland, I went Hawthorne, Lafayette and Westlake. I Went to Westlake, and we had one the longest strikes ever, I think it was like 5 weeks.
I remember as a kid, the subs would come out and walk us in, we would be getting booed along with the subs. They were “scabs.” It was kind of crazy it was pandemonium inside. So there were fights every day, I remember somebody getting stabbed… at the time Westlake was a junior high with grades 7-9. If you know Westlake there was a back stairwell connected to a door that people would be letting people sneak in…There was peoples having sex back there.
It wasn’t an option for me to stay at home because both my parents were working my parents had to go to work, so I didn’t have a no option and having to go to school like that was pretty wild from my experience as a student there, it was complete pandemonium”
Sharif El-Mekki- “You got booed by educators on the outside and not protected by educators on the inside”
Charles Cole III- “people would argue that they were not booing the kids, they were booing the scabs, quote unquote. I don’t know who they were booing I only know there were boos as I was walking into school. A lot of my friends just cut- there was nothing happening inside the building… it was probably safer to be out the building than inside the building of Westlake during the strike in the mid 90s.”
So to all those involved in the strike please remember the costs for children and families and work to minimize them. And if there are children who have to got to school during the strike, please, don’t make them feel even worse.