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Much at stake beyond Oakland in school teachers' strike

Uploaded: May 11, 2023
There’s plenty at stake in the Oakland teachers’ union strike against the district that is ongoing this week. As usual, students are being held hostage with school scheduled to end later this month.

Certainly, there are valid issues around wages and benefits to negotiate. The district is one of the most challenging in the state for teachers who are paid at the bottom of Alameda County school districts. Sadly, that’s not a factor of revenue—it’s mis-management by the senior leadership and the trustees that has left employees with too little of the pie.

Published reports have indicated that the two sides are close on wages, with the district’s initial offer of 22% nearly meeting the union’s demand of 23%. The union also wants class sizes of 20 students in kindergarten through third grades, a number that has been embraced by districts across the state, along with 30 in academic classes in upper grades. Again, reasonable numbers although good teachers can handle more than 30 in upper grades.

There’s one foundational problem and one key issue that is apparently dividing the school board. The foundational issue is operating way too many small schools and being slow to consolidate them. A move last year to do so met determined opposition. Schools with 200-300 students still demand an administrative staff—combining them saves over $1 million in overhead that can go to teachers’ salaries. The district has been trying to address this, but the last trustee election resulted in some anti-closing candidates winning election.

Oakland has about the same number of students—although it enrollment has steadily declined—as nearby Fremont Unified yet operates about twice as many school sites. The problem in a nutshell.

Even more troublesome and with potential impacts well beyond Oakland is the union’s strategy to include demands outside of the state-mandated bargaining areas.

These include: using district property for homeless families, increasing mental health staffing, reparations for Black students, water filtration units, subsidized transportation for all students and a formal role in deciding how to spend state grant money.

Union leaders across the state would love to include these subjects in bargaining, but they don’t belong there. The state mandates bargaining on the calendar—I don’t object to the number of teaching days, but the employers should set the schedule.

These items are outside the scope of bargaining and management and trustees need to hold firm and simply not go there. If leadership decides that utilizing school sites for homeless housing—there should be some available once schools are closed—then that’s a policy issue, not one for the bargaining table.

The same goes for the rest of the items. The Oakland list is reminiscent of the absurd similar demands made by the Los Angeles teachers’ union as the district leadership tried to get them to return to the classroom after the lockdown.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 11, 2023 at 3:03 pm

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

A lot to unpack here -

Teacher's are right to be furious about ineffective administration resulting in lack of pay.

Failing to consolidate schools to both meet a reasonable classroom ratio and consolidate some administrative overhead to support teacher salaries is also an Administrative office failure.

The union trying to include these other unrelated topics, and using students' education as a bargaining chip (a hostage for negotiation) needs to be classified as terrorist behavior, and met with a reaction equal to.

The union / administrative system is broken in education and needs to be thrown out. Both are layered ineffective management systems (waste) ruining education, and those that educate. When there's more corruption and money going to these things you have a broken system. Throw it out, start over. We should be locking administrators out of their offices, and throwing union leaders out on the street.

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on May 11, 2023 at 8:30 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Give me a break. There are certain professions that shouldn't be allowed to strike. Teachers and nurses come to mind. Teachers went on strike my senior year in high school. I was headed to UCLA, and they were standing outside with their asinine signs, encouraging us not to go to class. All I care about is the students. And you wonder why respect for teachers has plummeted. Think about the kids and quit being so SELFISH.

Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 11, 2023 at 9:30 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.


Indigenous people were enslaved in California. African Americans are not indigenous to California. They were enslaved when they arrived during gold rush years. California constitution banned slavery in 1950. One hundred Seventy-Three years ago.

Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 11, 2023 at 9:31 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Whoops: Typo should be 1850.

Posted by Bruce Baker, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on May 12, 2023 at 12:37 pm

Bruce Baker is a registered user.

Ancestors of Chinese Americans who worked on the Union Pacific Railroad should also receive reparations for being exploited by the likes of Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker, and Huntington (forgot his first name...Colis?) all wealthy white Californians with nothing on their mind except making more money at the expense of others.

These individuals are not worthy of any respect or admiration.

As for reparations, the racist Deep South should be held accountable for the proposed $5M payment to descendents of African slaves.

Posted by JJ, a resident of Birdland,
on May 12, 2023 at 3:55 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Let's start with facts. This is the literal definition of racism, it is illegal and immoral. Choosing to give or not give based on race is racism. Fact The first legally authorized slave owner in the new world America was a black man who enslaved another black man. Fact. The so called Native American tribes raped murdered tortured and enslaved other tribes. Every Native American tribe held slaves everyone of them. Fact.

Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 12, 2023 at 5:27 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Fact is Columbus enslaved American Indians, took them back to Italy with him in 1493.
The guy your "facting about" was Anthony Johnson. Birth name was Antonio. He enslaved people in 1651, 158 years after Columbus, the first white man to enslave people in America.

Posted by JJ, a resident of Birdland,
on May 12, 2023 at 6:02 pm

JJ is a registered user.

Fact. Every race of people have enslaved other people.
Fact. Columbus never set foot in what waldseemuller called the new world, America in 1492 he landed as far north as the Bahamas on the first of four voyages. H called it San Salvador the inhabitants called it guanahani. But I digress.
Fact AJ was the first slave holder in what we call the United States. 1654. John casor became the first legal slave in America.
But let's get back to the original point. Racism is bad let's not repeat a horrible idea by just whitewashing it.
Pun intended????

Posted by Michael Austin , a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on May 12, 2023 at 6:31 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The "New World" was "The Americas".

Some American Tribes held war captives as slaves prior to and during European colonization. Some Native Americans were captured and sold by others into slavery to Europeans, while others were captured and sold by Europeans themselves.

Whereas many Europeans eventually came to look upon slaves of African descent as being racially inferior. Native Americas took slaves from other Native American groups, and therefore viewed them as ethnically inferior, in some cases, the Native American slaves were allowed to live on the fringes of Native American society until they were slowly integrated into the Tribe. The word slave may not accurately apply to such captive people.

Posted by JJ, a resident of Birdland,
on May 12, 2023 at 7:01 pm

JJ is a registered user.

The new world became America in 1507 or let's say was first referenced as America.
The Native American tribes all held slaves of many races. As I stated the fact. All races held and kept slaves no race can take the high road on this and to debate what race of slaves or what particular slaves were treated better or worse is somewhat curious. G. W. Freed his slave and let him live his life out at mt Vernon. So..... but again let's not stray from the topic.
Slavery is bad, racism is bad, let's not practice racism and call it reparations or anything else let's call it what it is racism and let's all not be racists by practicing racism. Now if we are gonna practice racism then we can all just write ourselves a check.
and call it even.

Posted by Travis Jackson, a resident of another community,
on May 14, 2023 at 7:32 am

Travis Jackson is a registered user.

All societies have had slaves and to focus primarily on American slavery is being shortsighted.

The Aztecs had slaves as did the ancient Egyptians and Romans. The Pacific Islanders, Middle Easterners, and Arabs
also had slaves including many African tribes.

Though slavery is a crime against humanity, we cannot rewrite the past.

Posted by James Reed, a resident of Danville,
on May 14, 2023 at 8:29 am

James Reed is a registered user.

Reparations will not solve the problem unless there is a major 'reset' on the part of the proposed recipients' mindsets.

This 'reset' requires a long-term wealth management perspective (in lieu of compulsive consumer spending), an emphasis on higher education, more stable home environments (with a working father present), and a discouragement of street crimes and lootings.

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