Oakland Calls on State to Protect Public Schools and Students

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Oakland education activists stand outside the Elihu Harris State Building at 1515 Clay St. to demand more funding for educators and public schools. Photo by Ken Epstein

A group of community leaders and activists came together Thursday to call on the state to increase funding for Oakland public schools and to end the behind-the-scenes pressure on the school district to close and sell schools and to slash school site budgets, which would mean the layoff of hundreds of employees and slashing to services to schools sites.

The press conference, held in front of the state building at 1515 Clay St. in Oakland, was addressed to the city’s state representatives: State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurmond, Senator Nancy Skinner and Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks and Rob Bonta.
“We’ve had enough. The elected officials who began the take-over of Oakland are long-gone,” read the press release.

“(We are asking) new state officials to change the way they treat our schools, parents, and educators,” according to the press release.

The press conference called for the state to act on the following issues:

  • Abrogate the remainder of the loan that was imposed on Oakland and spent mostly by state-appointed officials and advisers without democratic input by residents.
  • Remove the non-elected Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT).
  • Stop pushing Oakland to close schools. It doesn’t save money or help kids.
  • Listen to Roots parents; reject the closing of Roots International Academy.
  • Stop treating Oakland parents as though we do not have enough sense to know whether a school is good for our children.
  • Fully fund California schools in an amount befitting the fifth- largest economy in the world. Reduce class sizes and pay educators so that they can afford to live in our community.
  • Reform the non-elected Commission on Teacher Credentialing, so that districts can select diverse and inspired educators who can teach, rather than meet all those bureaucratic requirements.
  • Rescind the state law which requires school districts to locate charter schools in their district whether or not local residents find this in the best interest of their community.”

Parent and public school advocate Mona Lisa Treviño said, “Unlike charter schools, Oakland public schools serve all students, no matter what language they speak, no matter what educational challenges they face or where they are from. Our public schools need to be fully funded and our school programs protected.”

In an interview with the Oakland Post, Board of Education Member Rose Ann Torres said the State Legislature has left the school district few options. “The problems go beyond our capacity: the lack of money for teachers and classes without teachers. Teachers are working in Third-World conditions, with no money for supplies like paper and pencils.”

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