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It’s almost March 4. What are your plans?

March 4 posterI hear that quite a few kids and teachers plan to skip school tomorrow and join a huge noon to 4 p.m. rally in front of Oakland City Hall to protest the level of education funding in California.

But those who show up to class will take part in the March 4 Day of Action to Defend Public Education, too. At 9:15 a.m., public schools across Oakland will hold a short fire drill to symbolize the severity of the funding crisis. Later in the day, you or your child might be writing an essay on which spending cuts in OUSD would do “less harm” to students,  or reading about women who created social change through non-violent protest —  two of the lesson plans posted on the OUSD Web site.

[The district's plans for March 4 are listed here. A letter urging the public to contact the governor is posted here.]

Craig Gordon, a Paul Robeson teacher and union leader, has created a supplemental lesson plan that focuses more on issues between the union and the school district than between California schools and state government. OUSD’s curriculum director has declined to post it along with the other lesson plans. Maybe it was the prompt:

Essay Prompt: What can the Oakland Unified School District do to defend quality education as a civil right for all Oakland students, even during this time of economic crisis and state budget cuts? Is the District right to say that it can do nothing other than select among actions that will hurt public education? Or are teachers right to say the District could sustain educational programs by changing its spending priorities and demanding increased funding from big corporations? Write a letter to the school board convincing them to agree with your position on this issue. Remember that good persuasive writing includes acknowledging and addressing the other side’s viewpoint.

Will you take part in the March 4 demonstrations? How? What do you think/hope will come of this day?

Katy Murphy

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

  • Oakland Teacher

    I am hoping that more people will be aware of the budget issues in our city and state that are affecting public education. I am hoping that people will become aware of how both the state government and OUSD set budget priorities that affect public education. I am hoping that people will become galvanized to fight for funding to be put in the right places. I am hoping that students and their families will learn they have a right to speak up for public education.

    BTW – I like Craig’s prompt much more than the one that OUSD posted on their website.

  • Katy Murphy

    Both prompts might be an interesting and useful exercise for students, but neither one seems to get to the heart of the March 4 protest.

    As I understand it, the March 4 Day of Action is being organized to challenge — and to pressure state politicians to change — the way California funds its public schools and universities. The district’s “less harm” prompt essentially asks students to work within the status quo and make the most of a bad situation. Gordon’s prompt asks students to consider the priorities of the school district, rather than state policies and laws.

  • Katy Murphy

    Oh, and if anyone will be tweeting tomorrow, post your Twitter ID and we’ll follow along!

    I’ll be tweeting too: http://twitter.com/katymurphy.

  • Oak70

    Students missing school = loss of ADA. Not a good thing for anyone. I agree that lessons should be created, shared, and taught, but bringing students into union politics vs. district is not productive, but expected.

  • J.R.

    To politicians and bureaucrats, and others who protect their enormous compensation while sitting on their backsides. It is time to put faces on those numbers, and that comes at a cost of time. It is all about priorities, and we need to cut the multi-layered,bloated,top heavy, redundant education and prison systems. Pay the people who actually work with the kids, and provide just enough admin to get the job done.

  • Katy Murphy

    Have photos of today’s demonstrations that you’d like to submit to the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times Web sites? You can e-mail them to pix@bayareanewsgroup.com or upload them directly to our Web site at http://bit.ly/dsLDVu.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Education Week just posted the finalists for the first round of Race to the Top funds, and California did not make the list. The state changed a number of educational laws to qualify for Race to the Top and will apparently on receive one cent in return. This should not have been a surprise, since financial support for education was one of the criteria used to evaluate states, and California is failing miserably in that respect.
    Unfortunately, some of the changes in California law which will not help our educational system will remain, such as encouraging charters even more than before and trying to use test scores to evaluate teachers.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Just want to clarify that the union — nor any teachers I know — encouraged students to miss school today.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Just want to clarify that the union — nor any teachers I know — did not encourage students to miss school today.

  • Cranky Teacher

    OOPS — meant to say did NOT encourage.

  • TheTruthHurts

    I hope whatever folks are doing works because education in CA is becoming a joke and that’s after being one of the best in the nation for years.

    Just read the Trib article about more cuts across the east bay. http://www.insidebayarea.com/education/ci_14478970. The fact that this situation sucks and that everyone needs to do something is at least a point of general agreement in these parts.

    @cranky – we knew what you meant.

  • http://www.imagsts.com Peter Zoll

    We are certain the ideas mentioned on our Legions of Light web pages (link is at the top right on our home page) will NOT solve all of Oakland’s schools’ problems, but we are equally sure the ideas solve SOME of the problems. The Acalanes link (lower right) has some comments on our projections for how teacher layoffs decrease API scores and how long it takes to recover. Then there’s declines in employment, property values and a few other effects. China won’t be waiting for us to get on our feet again.

  • Da East

    Yesterday the people fought back aganist the system! We will take the power by any means necessary. Of course, Susan and others of the establishment will hate our voice. But its revolution. Wake up students and lets organize around our teachers for March 23rd and fight for whats right!!