Last Friday, a group of concerned parents marked the end of their children's school year by kicking off summer and protesting school closures with a campout at Lakeview Elementary School — just one of five Oakland schools closed by the Unified School District at the end of this most recent school year. Aided by veterans from Occupy Oakland, the group of parents, teachers, and community activists rallied for the schools, which they say were sacrificed while schools in more affluent neighborhoods are kept open.
According to Oakland North's report form the scene, over 100 people showed up for a rally Friday, which was the culmination of 10 months of protests against the school districts decision to turn Lakeview Elementary in to administrative offices. Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell and Sante Fe schools were also closed as of Friday — the last day of classes for kids in Oakland.
Over the course of the summer, protestors hope to open "The People's School for Public Education", which is reminiscent of the learning centers Occupiers set up during last year's action in San Francisco and Oakland. The People's School hopes to draw educators from around the Bay Area to give lessons. One parent of a Lakeview student expressed hope that it would become a hub for public education in Oakland, echoing Occupy Wall Street slogans saying, "We are going to take back our public education system—it belongs to us.”
Compared to last year's Occupy campouts at Justin Herman and Frank Ogawa Plazas, Occupy Lakeview seems to have the most family-friendly environment yet. After Friday's rally, nine tents remained on Lakeview's campus where they intend to stay until their demand to reopen the schools are met. According to Oakland North, no Occupy protesters are camping out with the protestors, and no one from Oakland PD has yet to show up to shake down the campsite. [Note: update below] Volunteers from the community came out at all hours to help stand watch over the occupants of the tent city, which at one point included six kids and at least one teacher.
On Saturday, Oakland school board member Alice Spearman — one of two board members who voted against the closures — came out to support the parents' efforts. As Spearman pointed out, none of the closed schools are "above Shattuck," referring to the more affluent neighborhoods in North Oakland. Along with nine other OUSD schools closed in recent years, these most recent closures show what Spearman believes is a pattern of closing schools that serve minority students and low-income families.
Anyway, the occupation of Lakeview Elementary might not be a terrible way to bring the family together this summer. As one parent who spent the weekend sleeping at Lakeview's campus with his wife and three kids told CBS: “We go camping all the time, this is just like camping.”
Update: This afternoon, Oakland North notes that the parents and protestors at Lakeview Elementary have been served a warning notice to leave the premises immediately and not return for 30 days. The notices, which were posted around the school grounds this morning, claim the protestors are willfully interfering with "the good order of a school" — a misdemeanor offense. For now, however, teachers at the site are ignoring the notices and opening the doors to teach a curriculum of social justice classes inside. Just after Noon on Monday, Oakland police had yet to show up to enforce the warnings and protestors have scheduled another rally for 4 p.m. this afternoon.
Update 3:55: The cops have arrived. Journalist Justin Beck is live at the scene: