Another Oakland school boycott

It’s been months, possibly, since the last school walkout in Oakland. For those of you concerned that the city’s young activists were increasingly pushing for change outside of school hours (or inside their respective school campuses), you have nothing to worry about. 

Tomorrow, in observance of May Day, middle and high school students will leave their schools and march to Oakland City Hall to demand passage of the federal DREAM Act — and for an end to “police harrassment and violence against Oakland youth,” according to a news release from BAMN, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.

For Immediate Release:
NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION FRIDAY, MAY 1, 2009 Students gather 10:00AM to at International + High St. to march to Oakland City Hall (14th + Broadway)

Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) =================================

Oakland high school and middle school students, a number of whom are undocumented immigrants and would obtain legal status and college financial aid if the newly-reintroduced DREAM Act were passed, will boycott and/or walk out from school on Friday morning, May 1st to demand passage of the California and Federal DREAM Acts. They will gather at International Blvd. and High St. at 10:00AM to march down to City Hall. They will also demand an end to police harassment and violence against Oakland youth by demanding justice for Oscar Grant and the conviction of his murderer, ex-BART Officer Johannes Mehserle.

“This is a new era of hope, and Oakland students will no longer accept racist, second-class treatment in our schools and in our lives,” said Brenda Onofre, a Skyline High School junior and organizer with the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN).

“Every year, tens of thousands of undocumented students are unjustly denied their right to college financial aid and pursue their dreams,” said Ronald Cruz, Berkeley Law student and BAMN organizer. “Students are tired of being treated separate and inferior–we demand that President Obama to act on his stated support for the Federal DREAM Act and act on the sweeping mandate for change from November.”

“Oscar Grant could have been any one of us,” said Tanisha West, Oakland Technical High School junior and BAMN organizer. “As a black student I am proud to say I will unite with Latina/o students on May 1 to demand an end to the racism and violence that we face. By fighting together, we cannot be defeated.”

In March, the Federal and California DREAM Acts were reintroduced in the U.S. Congress and California Legislature, respectively.

Tribune file photo by Jane Tyska

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • harlemmoon

    Wouldn’t it have been great if the students, so clearly brimming with passion, could have worked with teachers/administrators to give a similar lesson IN SCHOOL?

  • Katy Murphy

    It would probably be a great social studies lesson, and I’m sure some teachers are using the DREAM Act to teach about history and/or the legislative and political process.

    Three years ago, when I covered a big immigration protest at Tennyson High School in Hayward, I was struck by how few of the students I interviewed knew about the house immigration bill that had sparked all of the controversy, let alone the various provisions being considered in the so-called “compromise bill” that followed.

    In a classroom immediately before the demonstration, the organizer of the protest kept the message really simple and emotional. Of course, the event was about student expression and activism (the immigration issue was close to home for many of the participants), not the finer points of the immigration debate.

    But why not do both?

  • Nextset

    When I was in law school some of the black students staged a class boycott for some insignificant reason or other – they always had some real or imagined complaint.

    This was just before finals. Typical of them.

    One of our key classes was in review for the final. As it turns out the final was completely based on the material covered in class on the boycott days.

    And that professor was black.

    I say lets give the kiddies a similar lesson in Civils. Tell them we understand their position on the class walkout. Explain that they have a duty to stay in class except for excused absenses. (“Duty” should have been carefully explained to them by now.) Political activism isn’t on the approved absense list. Tell them they are going to do what they decide to do, and we really do understand, just so they understand Us.

    Then wave them goodbye. And start administering the spot tests/start the review of the material that is principly tested on the finals.

    Then stick mercilessly to the grading curve – you do have a grading curve? And let the chips fall where they may.

    Brave New World.

  • Nextset

    PS: I got racially specific in the above post for a reason. Black students typically don’t get discipline from white teachers, particularly white liberals, because they are either afraid of the black students, have an unreasonable need to make the black students happy, or just don’t care enough about them to impose any kind of discipline on them.

    Black professionals who have survived competitive environments (military for example – or free enterprise) really do get it about the need to discipline black professional wanna-bes. You can’t get these kids through the competitive hoops until you’ve adjusted their tendencies to believe the world revolves around them and their pleasures, and train them to meet the competition as equals who fit.

    When you’re in an education program it has priority and students don’t dictate terms as to when they will attend or not. Demonstrate/Party on your own time.

    The sense on entitlement of the demonstrators will carry over to the rest of their careers to their detriment. But then, I don’t expect to see them make it in Med School or anything approaching that rigor anyway.

  • Nextset

    Typo in post 3, 5th paragraph. “Civics” not Civils

  • James Jones, Parent

    The Dream Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) has absolutely nothing to do with the murder of Oscar Grant. The organizers should be ashamed of themselves for using such a tragedy to get these kids riled up. Encouraging minors to skip school and assemble without their parents consent sounds illegal to me.

    Nextset.. your rambling racial generalizations and racial reasoning really make you irrelevant.. update your rhetoric.

  • harlemmoon

    If the students aren’t in class, they are marked absent. But that really isn’t sufficient when compared to the learning that they miss or the dollars that the district won’t receive because their butts aren’t in the seats.

  • John

    I had a dream that all the illegal aliens, including Obama’s aunt, returned to their country of legal residence and followed the legal process in applying for U.S. residency and “achieving” (instead of stealing)American citizenship in these United States. Then I woke up and saw the (above) pic of the illegal masked Mexican chick demanding that her theft of American resident & citizen tax paid resources be legalized and rewarded with American citizenship.

    Now here’s a strain of nation killing SWINE (in)FLU(ence) that doesn’t require microscopic detection. Legalization of the current mega crop of illegals would provide a wind fall voter constituency that helps keep the party in power partying on for generations to come.

    What a great civics lesson for ‘demonstrating’ the meaninglessness of civics in our Brave New World! By the way, “Who was that masked girl?” “Hi-yo (tax) silver away!”

  • Katy Murphy

    I welcome a wide range of views on illegal immigration and other controversial issues on this blog, but I expect contributions to be respectful of others. Referring to groups of people in dehumanizing terms is not acceptable to me.

  • Pepe

    John, I’m sorry to see that you have become such an angry person. I have laughed at some of your other parodies that poked fun at politicians, but a part of your post above just seems like blatant hatred. While I can’t imagine what experiences might inspire such feelings, I would hope that you can learn to repress some of those thoughts in this public forum. Your views belong to another time and another place, and I can only hope that your words do not inspire other misguided individuals.

  • Pepe

    I also believe the emphasis should be on education in school, and I am always angered at students who abuse protest as a way to get out of class. But how do you manage a protest? Should history teachers have students write a reflection paper on what actions they have taken to either be a part of the problem or the solution before deciding who gets to go?

    These students want their voices heard, and cutting school to protest is a great way to get press.

    How many of those students wrote letters to their representatives in government or knocked on doors to inform the public of actions to take? Bringing about change is no easy process.

    As far as Oscar Grant goes, that is now up to our justice system. Racism in today’s society cannot be ended with protest–that is a much larger issue.

  • harlemmoon

    Well said, Pepe. One quibble: John’s views don’t BELONG in any time or any place. A vile, hateful spirit is never acceptable.

    Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

  • harlemmoon

    Say, Katy, what’s the word on the OUSD Supe search?
    Hearing any names?

  • Chauncey

    Is it true tha BAMN is an extension of the OEA? Inquiring minds would like to know. Did you guys witness the last march on Chavez day? Only about 15 people marched – you know why? It was a holiday!

    God Bless this city and power to the those people who call things the way they see it on the streets instead of blogs.

    On another subject-

    I visited with Mr. Lopez at Oakland Charter High school. Man I am glad he is on the state board and in Oakland. All the hype and press do him well. I can see why liberals hate him- he is from the populants they say they halp and he rips them to shreds.

    Keep it up Man! I want my son at your school in the future!

  • Nextset

    Harlemmoon: Your publicly expressed wish for censorship of public discourse is childish and counterproductive.

    No matter how much anybody may dislike what John has to say, everybody is better off for the public expression of his position. If you can’t handle it you need to re-evaluate your own beliefs. All of us are stronger for public confrontation of policy and points of view if for no other reason than we learn what is going on and if so moved we get off our rear ends to publicly challenge it.

    I don’t expect people to agree with my position on things. Our policy beliefs have alot to do with experience and education. (ie: my position that coddling black students makes them less competitive and more vulnerable in this Brave New World – and you wonder why so much of it is going on) Most people have not been in my position to see or research this syndrome. At least that’s my take is on that.

    I value John’s expression for the opportunity to watch for it’s internal consistency and to see the reaction it sparks on what could be a boring blog thread. Suppression is not in the interests on anybody except the liberals who can’t take any challenge to their Dogma. Well if you can’t take it, that’s a reflection on you/yours. If John is out of line even I can say so. I await the collective replies of the blog.

    And that’s public discourse in a free society. You may not like it. I don’t care. Stop calling for censorship if you ever want to be taken seriously in public discourse.

    PS: This is Katy’s blog and she will remind people where she and her corporate employers draw the lines on expression. I think under the circumstances she is doing so.

  • Nextset

    Pepe: “Cutting School is a great way to get press”. Maybe, and that might even be important if the students were in the business of “getting press”. They are on the job to get an education in the limited time and funding they have available for that. The job description doesn’t include playing Crusader Rabbit.

    Crusader Rabbits fight everybody’s battles and wind up not having taken care of their own affairs. Training the black kids to play Crusader Rabbit at this age can get them killed and incarcerated.

    Part of growing up is learning time and place for many things including when to kill/use violence and when to stay put & get your duties done. We’ve had this discussion on the blog before – a thread involving some silly child who cut class for a march (over a school employee being terminated I think) who got himself Tased by the cops during some altercation involving a girl. My observation that children belong in school and if on a field trip, chaperoned by parents/responsible adults. Here we so again, different day, same stupid.

    They day will come when as responsible adults, these kids will be making such important decisions as participating in public rallys. For now they shouldn’t be at a hog calling contest without parental permission/participation.

    But they can do as they want. Go ahead. If no responsible adult is supervising these kids and they wind up running in the street, well, that’s life. Their lives. Let them demonstrate… OUSD kids in the street. Typical..

    Wonder what it would take to get the Piedmont High Kids to do the same thing?

  • Bruce


    No, BAMN is not an extension of OEA, though some members of BAMN have run for, and in some cases won, leadership positions in the teachers’ union. BAMN just has a way of using kids and institutions that serve kids to further their (BAMN) own agenda. They do this to cloak themselves in a legitimacy they would not otherwise be able to achieve. They have been doing this for years. Rarely much real news in things they do.

  • Katy Murphy

    As to the superintendent search question: I’m working on this right now, and will keep you posted. (I also appreciate any tips, on or off the blog).

    I’ve heard there will be a community forum on May 20 with the finalists, but I’m waiting to hear the details.

  • harlemmoon

    The Supe search is the question of the day in Oakland. I’ve heard some names (at least two current administrators and and one former administrator are in the mix).

  • Katy Murphy

    If you’re inclined to share, my email is kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com!

  • harlemmoon

    Nextset, you make it so tough to ignore your pseudo intellectual discourse. But I shall try. Please, do us all a favor and spare us the preachy rants and phony omniscience.

  • Donna

    Since last fall, BAMN has visited my daughter’s freshman class at least monthly and has succeeded only in increasing the kids’ disagreement with their views. From what I hear, the kids treat them with contempt and get in shouting matches because they don’t find BAMN’s arguments “logical”. I am supportive of the DREAM Act, but not of BAMN’s continued visits, so I think I will offer to act as point person on students’ immigration questions so that they have a better understanding of policy, how that policy plays out, unintended consequences, and the push and pull factors that impact immigration.

    For those who say, “Wait in line” to immigrate, I wonder if they understand that the wait can be five to eight years or more for spouses and children of permanent residents, and fifteen or twenty years in other categories? A number of people here *illegally* are actually beneficiaries of such immigrant petitions. And others have employers or U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouses who want to sponsor them, but because their status has lapsed more than a year ago and/or they entered the U.S. without being inspected at the border, they have to leave the U.S. to regularize their status at a U.S. consulate. BUT, the second they leave the U.S., they are barred from returning to the U.S. for ten years or maybe even permanently. This ten year bar has created a permanent underclass that is essentially trapped here.

    High emotion does not make for sound policy.