When teachers represented by the Oakland Education Association (OEA) went on strike in 2019, Great School Voices published a series of articles covering different perspectives — most importantly from students — on the strike and what it impacted. As OEA begins another strike today, we wanted to share with you those articles to help us remember and learn from the past.
The OUSD Strike Re-Centering Ourselves on Quality-Students Reflect
“Teachers should be paid more, hard stop. Now that that’s out the way, I’m concerned. I am trying to get to college. I need to complete FAFSA. I need letters of recommendation. I need good grades in my classes this semester. The colleges do not care about the strike, as deadlines are deadlines. I know that many of my classmates are planning to join the picket line and I may too, but I am really concerned that this might impact my college aspirations. I am not trying to be selfish, but I have worked very hard to get here.”
Tallying the Final Costs of the Teachers’ Strike And Carrying the Voices of those Affected
Thankfully the Oakland teachers’ strike is over and kids and teachers are back in buildings. This was a painful time in Oakland for many of us and there is still healing that needs to happen. There are both tangible and intangible costs to this all—and while we can calculate the lost revenue to OUSD, lost salary to teachers, and lost learning to students, we may not be able to quantify the costs to the community so easily. Here we carry the voices of those involved and affected, students, educators, community and the district and union.
The Costs to Students, Staff, OUSD and All of Us in a Prolonged Strike
The latest bargaining news in not hopeful. OUSD has said it has given the offer it can afford at a roughly 8.5% raise over three years, the union is demanding 12%. The fact finder noted that OUSD might have trouble paying 9%, and the State trustee, who must approve any deal, said that he would rescind a 12% raise. This doesn’t even touch on the class size and other working condition issues. All this is complicated by a mistrust of the district finances by the union.
The saying is that when the elephants fight the grass gets trampled. This is more two starving elephants bumping into each other rather than charging the gates. And while there may be long term benefits to the strike around teacher retention through better pay and working conditions. There will be short term costs as students miss learning time.
“You Got Booed by Educators from the Outside and Not Protected by Educators on the Inside”-A Student Reflection from the Last Big Strike
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.”
The 8 Black Hands Podcast Digs in on the Impending Teacher Strike
Dirk and Dr. Brian Stanley join the 8 Black Hands podcast to discuss the impending strike.
Student Reflections on Quality in Post-Strike Oakland and What We Need to Do
“I had to advocate for myself…Nobody knew who I was…I had to beg and plead for mental health support, in the midst of a panic attack, I’ve had teachers yell at me and tell me I can’t leave. When you are having a panic attack you can’t explain that you are having a panic attack…PTSD, depression, and anxiety are real things for our students.”
After the Strike; Starting the Healing Process and Doing Better by Black Students
As a kid, I didn’t think much of the strike because I was happy to stay home. But my mother crushed my dreams of staying home and playing video games. Both my parents worked and there was no way she was leaving her son home alone in the middle of the day. She felt I needed adult supervision and that I needed to be in school learning.
And, like so many OUSD students during this year’s strike, when I arrived at school there was a long line of teachers with signs who were shouting and chanting. Perhaps like me, kids we were assured the teachers weren’t shouting at them, but I’m sure it was still a wild experience. Inside my school the building was complete chaos. Kids were running through the halls. Some classes were watching movies; some had kids playing chess. I remember fights breaking out all over campus. One of those fights led to someone getting stabbed. The adults did their best, but we were wildin’. I can admit it.