On Thursday morning, teachers, parents, students, and other supporters of Oakland schools gathered outside Oakland Tech High School to stage a walkout. Hundreds joined in to move from the rally outside the school to a march to Oakland Unified headquarters. A party and community lunch followed.
Multiple videos posted to the Citizen App show dozens walking through the streets, and blocking the intersection at Broadway and Grand Avenues.
This is all in response to the Oakland’s School Board voting this week to close seven schools and merge several others in an effort to mitigate a budget deficit caused by declining enrollment. The district says it’s up against a $90 million shortfall and could face intervention from the state if it doesn’t clean things up.
An Oakland Tech student, Zoe Lloyd Trotter, told KPIX that the goal of the march was to get the school board to reverse a vote the protesters believe was not essential to the district’s success.
“Thousands of Black kids are getting ready to be displaced to save one to four percent of OUSD’s budget when they can just shut down that 1000 building on Broadway,” said Trotter.
SFist has reached out to the City of Oakland and Oakland Police Department to see whether either was given advance notice of the walkout, and to get more details on the exact number of participants.
This is just the latest in a line of many displays of protest. People have caravanned to gather outside school board members’ houses; staff have staged numerous walkouts; and two employees of Westlake Middle School are on a hunger strike. One of those hunger strike participants had to be hospitalized after going nine days without food.
It’s worth noting that the decision about the school closures isn’t yet final. However, the plan as agreed upon so far is as follows: Parker Elementary School and Community Day School are both set to close at the end of the current school year. Another group closes at the end of next school year: Korematsu Discovery Academy, Carl Munck Elementary, Grass Valley Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary, and Brookfield Elementary.
Rise Elementary and New Highland Academy Elementary will combine into a single school by the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
The Oakland Unified School District’s LCAP Parent and Student Advisory Committee has another meeting coming up Wednesday February 16th, as does the Board Charter Committee on Community Engagement.
Assemblymember Mia Bonta is working on AB 1912, a bill that would give the Oakland Unified School District an extra $10 million, along with an extra year to decide whether to consolidate schools.
Photo via Citizen app