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Oakland Teachers, Supporters Rally on Fifth Day of Strike

Wednesday was the fifth day on the picket lines in Oakland and it’s not clear when teachers and the district will come to an agreement.

Meanwhile, high school graduation is only two weeks away.

Dozens of educators and supporters rallied on Second Street ahead of what was supposed to be the school board meeting. It was canceled last minute because the district said they didn’t know if they could reach a quorum or avoid any disruptions. 

Still, teachers say they are committed to fighting for what they say is a fair contract  

“One day longer, one day stronger,” said Noelle Winter, an Oakland Education Association bargaining team member. 

Amidst the ongoing negotiations, educators are now also grieving one of their own after a member of the substitute teacher bargaining team died early Wednesday morning. 

Union leaders say they have continued talks with the district throughout the day, leaving them hopeful progress will be made. 

“We are making progress in reaching an agreement on compensation and around salary,” said Winter. “There are parts of the special education proposal that we are pretty close on in a matter of just a couple of numbers but there are areas we are much further on.”

As teachers continue to show up on the picket lines, high school seniors, like Juliana Vasquez, weeks from graduation spent the day at the Oakland Ice Center explaining how studying for finals and preparing for senior projects are nearly impossible without knowing what to plan for. 

“You want to really close your school year as best as you can, so we are not able to do that,” said Vasquez. “We are not able to talk with teachers, to make up late work.”

Others already done with finals worry how their final days in high school will end.

“It sucks because we don’t get to spend the last few weeks of school with our teachers and friends all together, we are all at home,” said Johana Aviles of Life Academy. 

“It’s been interested having to adapt again to an at home stage,” said Miles Paré, Skyline senior. 

Paré spent parts of his freshman and all of his sophomore year remote learning during the pandemic and is now back to studying online for an AP test with no date. 

“It’s a little stressful in a way because we are all getting ready to graduate and wondering when our finals are going to be, capstone presentations,” said Paré.

While teachers have the support of many of their students, the uncertainty of when they will return to the classroom is leaving seniors uneasy. 

“It’s a mix of feelings because you don’t expect the last few weeks until the end to be out of school,” said Vasquez. “That’s not a good transition.”

Union leaders said they will be back at the negotiation table Wednesday night.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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