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Oakland teacher strike, rescheduled (again)

OEA rally, Tribune file photo

The Oakland teachers union has decided to push back its scheduled one-day strike for a second time. It’s now set for Thursday, April 29, not April 22.

The date is linked to the timing of the much anticipated fact-finding report, which a mediator is expected to release to both sides tomorrow. 

The report will officially be made public about 10 days later, after the union and the administration have had one last chance to come to an agreement before the strike. If I happen to get a copy before then, I’ll let you know what’s in it.

The union has also planned informational picketing at schools this Thursday to let families know about the upcoming strike.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Sue

    Here’s hoping the district and the union can finally reach agreement.

    If not, I have a husband and two kids who’ll be on the picket lines with the teachers. I’d be there too, but I can’t keep burning my vacation days – I’m going to need them this fall when my Skyline senior with autism starts college.

    (This is a shout-out to all the ASIP teachers and staff, and the general ed teachers too, who’ve worked with and helped him over the years. Getting him this far is both his and their achievement, and they all deserve at least double the pay they’re getting!)

  • Chris

    The whole in the budget and these guys want more? The timing is impeccable.

    And the district still sucks….

  • J.R.

    Sue,
    Thanks for acknowledging the great teachers out there. The great ones are very underpaid.

  • ousd funemployed

    Just out of curiosity, does this put their one day strike in the middle of STAR testing?

  • harlemmoon

    Leave it to OEA to make pure comedy out of a situation . Rescheduling a strike – twice. Sheesh. These bunglers can’t even get their dates right. And we wonder why little Jamal can’t read?

    And just in case anyone’s paying attention, OUSD is trying desperately to close a multi-million deficit. How in the name of reason can anyone have the temerity to ask for more at a time when less is better than none at all?

    Does logic still apply in this city?

  • Oakland Teacher

    Some indisputable facts in response to #5:

    1. OUSD has received cost of living (COLA) increases meant for salary increases from the state the past 10 years equaling nearly 20%. The amount teachers have received in salary increases = 0%. That alone gives me the “temerity” to ask for a raise. We have heard year after year that there is “No money.”
    2. OUSD teachers are paid lower (even when adjusting for benefits) than any other teacher in Alameda County.
    3. OUSD spends more money on consultants and administration than is permitted by state law. The law requires that 55% of the total budget be spent on classroom salaries (teachers/aides). OUSD has been spending only 45% on classroom salaries, even receiving fines for their misspending.
    4. OUSD has a 30% teacher annual turnover rate, destabilizing schools which yearly have nearly the entire staff leave. Oakland teachers deserve to be paid comparable salaries to teachers in nearby districts. We actually receive more money than most districts.
    5. OEA is also negotiating over class size, nurse caseloads and many other conditions that directly affect students. We are not willing to accept “less” for our students as suggested by the poster who says that “less is better.”
    6. OEA voted to delay the strike to allow the district time to respond to the (very delayed) fact finding report. We felt it was the prudent and right thing to do. It would be asinine to stick to a date just to avoid being criticized.

    **Sue – I just want to thank you for your continuing voice of reason and support. It is so great to hear what positive experiences your kids have had. I am also an OUSD parent whose kids have had some really remarkable teachers.

  • Katy Murphy

    Oakland Teacher: I don’t believe your 10-year timeline for #1 (no raises) is accurate. According to our archives, the OEA received a three-year, 24 percent raise in 2001, and agreed to scale it back by 4 percent in the fall of 2003. There was also a 6.25 percent increase in the last contract — according to our news story from the time — though teachers agreed to pay up to $700 a year for health care, when they previously paid nothing.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Post #6 “indisputable facts.”
    Post #7 Facts disputed from public documents

    Post #6 is presumably from a teacher, teaching children about facts, reason and citizenship. Hmmm???

    If my memory serves, the 24% raise is one of the main items that precipitated the previous budget hole that led to state takeover. Looks like some want the rinse and repeat that story again.

    As for the musical dates, if those in charge were more focused on negotiating than threatening, couldn’t they just wait until the report is finished and then set a date?

    Of course, that wouldn’t accomplish “the goal.”

  • Sue

    TheTruthHurts Says:
    “If my memory serves, the 24% raise is one of the main items that precipitated the previous budget hole that led to state takeover. Looks like some want the rinse and repeat that story again.”

    Um. My memory of those times is very different than yours. What I recall precipitating the state takeover, was then-superintendent Chacones asking for a FCMAT review of the district’s finances, and following the recommendations he got. The big recommendation: a change from an outdated accounting system that was in place before Mr. Chacones was hired.

    Once the new accounting system was in place, it revealed that the district had been operating at a deficit for years, if not *decades*. The then-recent teacher pay raise of 24% (which was well deserved, IMNSHO) certainly didn’t help the situation, but it’s to the teachers’ credit that they were willing to give it back to help out the district.

    My personal opinion – unsubstanciated – is that FCMAT was looking for a new source of business with the Compton district about to return to local control. And as a side benefit, they got their friend Dr. Randy Ward a nice new job just as his old job in Compton was ending.

    As for teacher strikes getting rescheduled – hey, I don’t know a single teacher who *wants* to strike at all. If they can avoid it completely, that would make them much happy.

    They’ve been without a contract for two years. The last time teacher contracts expired, they got down to the very day the strike was going to happen – late-night the day before to be precise, so late the word couldn’t get out fast enough and the schools had to close anyway because parents were keeping their children home for the day – and the district *finally* accepted the union’s terms.

    Seems to me that the only way to get the district to reach an agreement is to again use a strike to hold their feet to the fire. History (as I recall it anyway) certainly supports that view.

  • J.R.

    Truth,
    Excellent points, and even then, on a strictly merit basis the raises are probably not justified. I think only excellent teachers should get raises, and we as taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay the sub-par teachers the same that we pay those that excel. We should demand the means to dismiss those teachers who are incompetent in exchange for any monetary considerations.

  • Katy Murphy

    Just to clarify: In 2003, the teachers agreed to scale back the 24 percent raise to 20 percent. They didn’t give back the entire raise.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Katy, if this is true, why are the starting and ending salaries on the pay scale still the same as 10 years ago??? (As I posted on another thread with the numbers)

    The numbers don’t add up if those raises really happened.

  • Katy Murphy

    Good question. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it, and have requested copies of old pay scales. Are they posted online?

  • David Laub

    Ms. Murphy,

    The 24% raise that you recall as coming from 2001 actually was the raise gain from the 1996 contract struggle, which was made possible by the state funding that was increased at that time across all of California’s public school districts.

    We did not receive such a raise in 2001. Leading up to the strike in 1996, the teachers of Oakland had received no COLA for the previous 6 years. Very similar to today.

    In 2003 we accepted a concessionary contract that gave up 3%-4% on the salary scale. This was the first encounter with the state Dictadministrator, on of Eli Broad’s trained hitmen, Randy Ward. We received no COLA from that time on.

    Wow, if you were to present the kind of responses as journalistic evidence, as you did in #7, #11 as a student in a journalism class I wonder what kind of feedback your professor would have for you as an aspiring journalist. YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK, as you imply that you are “trying” to do in response #13.

    Be professional in your research before you come up with statements like these out of thin air. You have the burden of representing true data, serious research, to the readers of the Oakland Tribune.

  • Katy Murphy

    Huh? But the raise came during Chaconas’s tenure, and he came on board in 2000.

  • Cranky Teacher

    I posted this on the wrong thread — you can delete it over there…

    From: http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us

    Oakland Unified,1998-1999
    Lowest Offered $29,260
    BA+60 (Step 10) $42,135
    Highest Offered $55,009
    Average Paid $42,600

    Oakland Unified, 2001-2002:
    Lowest Offered $38,646
    BA+60 (Step 10) $53,198
    Highest Offered $69,452
    Average Paid $54,994

    Oakland Unified, 2008-09
    Lowest Offered $39,456
    BA+60(Step 10) $54,328
    Highest Offered $70,934
    Average Paid $54,157

    We can see that there was a significant raise between ‘98-’01, which actually brought to teachers in OUSD up to the statewide average for Step 10 ($53,500).

    (Problem with state average is it doesn’t take into account higher cost of living here in Bay Area).

    But we can also see the stagnancy in salary structure in the seven years afterward — 2% in total over that time frame. Lower than the rate of inflation by a rate close to ten — I’m not going to repost all the inflation numbers again, but they are easy enough to find.

    (And, because of high turnover, the AVERAGE salary of an OUSD teacher actually declined in those seven years!)

    The district response should probably be: The money all got eaten up by increases in health costs. But that is not only partially true — even that does not account for the lag behind inflation, although I don’t have the numbers in front of me.

    Nor does it deal with the question of whether teachers were already underpaid in Oakland, relative to teachers elsewhere, even AFTER the Chaconas raise when taking into account the admin-heavy nature of OUSD and the cost of living here.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Here it is in graphic form:

    http://tinyurl.com/y2ef7sc

  • Katy Murphy

    The pay scale rose in 2000-01 and again in 2001-02 because of the 24 percent raise, which Chaconas approved in June 2000.

    Trib: http://bit.ly/beeguP
    Chron: http://bit.ly/bDNUVY

  • Cranky Teacher

    those links are blocked on the OUSD system

  • pedro

    so stop cruising the internet and get back to work

  • Sue

    Uh, Pedro, it’s Wednesday. That’s a minimum day in OUSD. Depending on which school, Cranky’s students may have been dismissed before s/he posted anything or tried to follow Katy’s links.

    So, maybe you should stop cruising the internet until you get off your high horse?

  • pedro

    work hours till 315, Sue! And not all schools have minimum days on wednesdays—but on short days they do all have PLCs/PD until 315! I hope Cranky’s not one that thinks he should be paid for all the “outside” work, when he’s not even working while “inside!” Sorry Cranky, but you put yourself on blast! Sue, thanks for standing up for teachers, but this perhaps isn’t the battle to fight!

  • Oakland Teacher

    Sometimes I wonder why teachers even go on this blog, myself included, when there are so many “regulars” whose goal in life seems to be to hate teachers.

    But look at the numbers from the salary schedules and remember that 2009-2010 is the same as the previous year. Also please remember that the average salary in OUSD actually declined. The lowest starting salary is less and the highest salary is $1482 more than 9 years ago. How many professions that require advanced education would only give less than the equivalent of a $200 yearly raise?

    Oakland Unified, 2001-2002:
    Lowest Offered $38,646
    BA+60 (Step 10) $53,198
    Highest Offered $69,452
    Average Paid $54,994

    Oakland Unified, 2008-09
    Lowest Offered $39,456
    BA+60(Step 10) $54,328
    Highest Offered $70,934
    Average Paid $54,157

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Cranky and @Oakland teacher. Many have acknowledged here that teachers are underpaid. I’m one of them. However, it does not do your cause any good when you misrepresent facts. I truly appreciate the numbers offered, but they clearly show a difference from 2001 to now – about the same as my cousin’s condo during that time or the stock market during a similar 10 year period recently.

    I believe Ms. Murphy indicated a 6.25% raise and a 4% reduction. The difference between the numbers seems close to this difference. If you had said as much from the beginning, there wouldn’t be any challenge. Instead we get, “The amount teachers have received in salary increases = 0%.” Or,”why are the starting and ending salaries on the pay scale still the same as 10 years ago”. From there, Cranky, you answer your own question (you were wrong) and then admit doing the research during work time. Then, in all the talk about CPI, you fail to mention that for most teachers there is a annual increase which exceeds CPI – Steps, I believe.

    None of this represents teachers well no matter how deserving of increased wages they are.

    I expect teachers to say they are underpaid, under-respected and underappreciated for the investment they put in and sacrifices they’ve made. I expect them to demand the administration reprioritze (while keeping the lights on) to better pay teachers consistent with “similar” Districts. That I think is fair and can be done without misrepresentation or threats.

  • Harold

    I would love to see the numbers for Administrators over the last decade. How much more do they make? How much more do Buildings and Grounds make? It could be as flat as Teacher salaries, but i would like to see them. Do Coaches make more? What about NEXO pay over the past decade? Lets put everyone’s cards on the table!!

  • Cranky Teacher

    Thanks, Pedro, for your concern about my time management but I don’t feel “on blast” at all. I’m comfortable with what I’m pouring into this job and if I jot down a quick note during my breaks to represent my profession and my thoughts about Oakland students, I can take the consequences. I’m a fast typist, lol.

    I’d love it if all these folks who think teachers are overpaid and lazy would go get their credential and come on into OUSD and help us out. Recession or no, there will be spots for you — the country is facing a huge teacher shortage over the next decade as the Boomers retire. C’mon, Pedro, come get all this “easy” chedder!

    I’m calling your bluff, haters. Show us how it’s done!

    TheTruthHurts: I haven’t misrepresented any numbers, stop making false accusations. And are you saying our salaries should go up and down with the speculative real estate and stock markets rather than the cost of living? Interesting idea — isn’t the Dow over 11,000 again?

  • Nextset

    I see the teacher pay numbers and I wonder what kind of (college degreed and credentialed) people would work for such pay in the Bay Area? What is wrong with these people who are the OUSD teachers? Why do they put themselves and keep themselves in these working conditions for that pay?

    I see a future where public school teachers in Oakland are paid 50% greater to handle far more students (across a large geographic area) through computerization – working out of an office building. Most to all contacts being done through the computer and webcams, computer marker boards, headsets and related equipment, assignments being uploaded as PDF Files, Testing and other in-person things occurring at regional meetings. This is the only way you can get the productivity up enough to make possible the larger salaries.

    And it’s already here, just not at OUSD.

  • del

    Colleagues: I sincerely hope people do take up the offer and accept the greatest job in the world and wish to work with the greatest kids in the world! However, Pedro also makes the “easy cheddar” and has been doing so for so long that he’s retiring this year, leaving me as the oldest teacher at the school. He & I were talking about our strike experience and he was refreshing my memory of the strike in ’77 (a great story about the district offering 3%, OEA refusing, striking for 4 weeks, and then taking a 1% raise! I was still in school). I told him about public perception (the blog), showed him on my computer while we waited for our tutees to finish their essays and math, and he posted (he even used my e-mail!). He’s been county teacher teacher of the year, a professor in teacher ed programs at Cal, etc etc etc. Nice guy, too, great sense of humor.
    However, colleagues, I must implore you to model the expected behaviors we share. Just as you do not HATE the students you assign homework to, Pedro & many others do not hate you but will point out factual inaccuracies in your claims. No one is claiming it is easy or that teachers are overpaid, but in the face of criticism those are your claims. This as the instant reaction to all criticism is (in this colleague’s opinion) distasteful and seems to lack maturity. I know your jobs, I love your jobs. I know your pay and your pain, and I have for decades. Many others do too. As teachers, we need the support of the community to help these kids. The way to foster and grow this support is to openly discuss facts, NOT refer to criticism as hate (this should be a pet peeve of all teachers anyway) and to do exactly as Truth Hurts says above: demand more without misrepresentation or threats.
    Hopefully the fact finding will be embraced by all sides so that we can go back to TEACHING!

  • J.R.

    “I’d love it if all these folks who think teachers are overpaid and lazy would go get their credential and come on into OUSD and help us out. Recession or no, there will be spots for you — the country is facing a huge teacher shortage over the next decade as the Boomers retire. C’mon, Pedro, come get all this “easy” chedder!

    I’m calling your bluff, haters. Show us how it’s done!”

    No one is ever forced to teach, and if you don’t want to teach, then avail yourself of your right to not be a teacher. There are plenty of young,smart,caring, energetic teachers who just got pink-slipped because of seniority. I’m sure some of them would do your job just fine without any loss of productivity.

  • J.R.

    Del,
    I will say it once again(for the benefit of cranky and others who ), most of our teachers are fabulous, and are underpaid. There are some who spend so much time being hyper-political belly-achers(oftentimes these are the sub-standard teachers), that there is not enough focus on the profession of teaching by these same individuals(and many of you great teachers know these incompetent teachers by name and reputation). It is a sham of epic proportions that we must keep some bad teachers employed but must cut loose some very wonderful young teachers at the same time.

  • Cranky Teacher

    @Del: Wait, Pedro attacked me “for surfing the net” but I’m the one who was modeling immature behavior? I was trying to respond to take what I considered a nasty cheap shot and flip it back a little lighter — but maybe it didn’t work. Oh well.

    @J.R.: I never said I didn’t want to teach. I chose to teach when I didn’t have to, and I hope to teach for another 15 years. When you see kid overcome challenges, it makes it all worthwhile. But yes, it is the hardest job I’ve ever had, and I have already had a few tough ones over the decades.

    Also, for those “young, smart, caring, energetic teachers who just got pink-slipped,” they will be fine if they want to keep teaching. They got pink-slipped from schools that are more desirable to teach at and thus are not losing as many vets in turnover. They can go to a more downtrodden school. I was pink-slipped after one year and while it sucked at the time, it wasn’t the end of the world — just set up some interviews and go.

    If you haven’t been to the OUSD or Richmond or SFUSD recruitment fairs and had middle-school principals stuff business cards into your clothes like you were a stripper, you don’t realize the desperation a lot of schools are in just to keep the room staffed.

    And don’t OVER-glorify beginners. I notice we get a lot of credit for just being, well, less OLD, and I don’t think it is always deserved or fair. Some of our best teachers are young and some are old, but I would say that nobody in there first year or two is all THAT. And every year at our school, at least two quit by Christmas…

  • J.R.

    I wasn’t saying that “all” the young teachers were great, but I was saddened that all the young teachers who do happen to be “great” will get tossed like yesterdays garbage just the same(case in point is that crummy Lazear teacher who should be immediately dealt with). If students(and the world at large) were handled with the same seniority model as the school system, and not the merit system, we as a society would be in very bad shape.

  • J.R.

    I think it is a great thing when teachers who(for whatever reason)can not handle the job well, just leave. The students should never be subjected to anyone who is less than professional. We as citizens, taxpayers and parents don’t owe anyone a job(I don’t care about seniority, ability and attitude are much more important), and likewise teachers should just do their jobs and quit whining, or if they aren’t up to it or the pay is not enough, just leave.

  • Cranky Teacher

    J.R., I feel you, on both the “whining” (I prefer to call it “venting”), and the particularly crappy teachers who hang on and seem to be coddled. But you are missing the bigger picture and Oakland’s place in it.

    First of all, ask: Why would a system that seems to promote mediocrity — tenure, low salaries, limited prep/grading time, large class sizes, few support personnel, limited material resources, etc. — have developed in the first place? Did the unions construct this reality, or did they just fight for the scraps the financially-starved system was willing to dole out?

    The reality is that for districts like Oakland, not having ENOUGH teachers who want to stay is the primary problem. When you average 15% turnover a year, and much higher at many schools within the district, you save a few bucks employing 22-year-olds but the students lose out because a school which churns over half its staff every 3-4 years is dysfunctional by definition.

    The first day of my second year, at least two vets told me the same thing: “It’s always a surprise when a rookie comes back.”

    In several years in the district, I have seen only 1-2 non-tenured teachers lose their position — and they were consolidated/transferred to other schools. In that same time, however, I have seen well over a dozen non-tenured teachers quit the profession or move to a different district.

    I have also met teachers who were borderline crazy. Yet they have survived decades in Oakland, usually in the poorer schools. Why would this be tolerated? Well, imagine you are the principal of a flatland middle school which just lost half its staff. Short of crimes being committed, are you going to go hard after the eccentric bat in Room 101 who at least is harmless? Maybe next year, after you get this new crew settled … but then that crew leaves, or you do, and a new principal comes in, and the cycle repeats.

    Stats don’t lie: Half of all teachers quit before their fifth year.

    Again, I laud the parents at Lazear who took on the whole system to say, enough! Hold the school, the teacher and the district accountable. But we should also see the big picture, which goes far beyond Oakland, where young people with college degrees are taking a look at teaching…and then walking away.

    To me, this contract fight is about doing anything we can — pay, resources, class size — to recruit and retain teachers in Oakland, because that serves the students.

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  • jk

    why don’t the teachers quit and we can have the ill imm do the job….