More than 3,000 Oakland educators were on picket lines instead of in classrooms this morning for the second day, as Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) management continues to create a crisis of inaction and Oakland Education Association (OEA) waits for them to bring a comprehensive proposal to the bargaining table.
With no new negotiations sessions scheduled as of this morning, OUSD management and the school board continue to operate in bad faith, attempting to negotiate through the media instead of bargaining with OEA fairly, as they are required to do by law.
“OEA has been prepared to bargain a contract, but the OUSD administration and school board are missing in action, just as they have been absent for much of the past six months,” said special education teacher and Oakland Education Association Interim President Ismael Armendariz. “It’s time for the school board to show some leadership.”
Frustrated educators and community were further incensed by reports yesterday that the OUSD school board has not given authority to the management bargaining team to negotiate and make decisions on behalf of the district. After seven months of management stalling and refusing to present a comprehensive proposal in writing, educators have had enough.
“I feel bad that we have to do this again,” said English educator Agnes Zapata. “One of my students said ‘why do you have to do this when your job makes all other jobs possible?’”
Special education teacher Rachel Carpenter said she’s upset that the school board isn’t allowing its bargaining team to even discuss important issues for students, like community schools.
“I’m just really frustrated,” she said. “Contact the school board and tell them to get in gear.”
Today’s midday protest included a rally and near-mile long march in Fruitvale.
OEA continues to demand that OUSD pay teachers a livable wage, provide improved services for students with disabilities, additional mental health supports for students still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and invest in Historically Black Community Schools. Other issues include special education needs, class sizes, safety issues and equitable treatment for schools in low-income areas, along with additional support for students in those schools.
“Our students are worth this fight! We are tired of OUSD telling us no to support, no to mental heath services, and no to getting what our students need,” Armendariz said. “One day longer! One day stronger! Let’s go OEA!”