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Will Oakland school board impose a contract?

They might. At a 6 p.m. special meeting on Wednesday, the Oakland school board votes on a resolution that would immediately implement the district’s “last, best and final offer” to the teachers, which was made last December and soundly rejected by the union’s membership.

You can read the resolution here and the full story here.

Do you think the board should change course and go back to the bargaining table? What should the union do?

Katy Murphy

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

  • Steven Weinberg

    If the District imposes a contract, does that create any sort of window that the OEA must respect in terms of a strike? My concern here is very narrow, but also important: the window for giving CSTs begins next week, and distruptions of school during that window could have huge effects on schools that are close to falling into the persistently underperforming school category (and there are many in Oakland).
    I think the district should return to the bargaining table in any event, but they should definitely avoid any action that would trigger a longer walk-out (beyond the current one-day strike) during the testing window. I also think OEA would be wise to delay the one-day action until after testing, perhaps in return for an agreement by the district to return to the table.

  • Cranky Teacher

    The one-day strike is happening, and schools are scheduling CST testing around that already, unless they are stupid — schools set the CST schedule within a larger window.

    The union will not launch a full strike without another vote of its members. The next membership meeting is set for May 3.

  • Jill

    It is embarassing to be an advocate for public education given the bickering that has gone on for so long and the cost is has on our children, our school system and our city. The fact finding report was pretty reasonable and did not seem to lean too far to one side or the other. And the OUSD representative agreed with the findings so it is incredible that OUSD decided to just stop bargaining. OUSD needs to understand that they will never increase enrollment by chasing away good teachers, packing their classrooms and cutting the classes and programs that allow them to compete with other public, charter, private and parochial schools for attendance and funds. And OEA needs to accept that charters are here to stay and they are shooting themselves in the foot by opposing a ballot measure that could benefit its members. Why should I continue to send my kids to Oakland public schools when we have so many inexperienced teachers and administrators who are not adequately prepared, no art, no music, no PE, no languages, no basics like paper or textbooks, lousy facilities, poor school security and no hope of any improvement in the near future? Why would anyone gamble their children’s future that way? Why even live in Oakland? Honestly, even elementary school kids are able to do conflict resolution better than these two groups. Shame on them both. They should work it out and then focus all this energy on getting the funds from Sacramento that they so desperately need.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Jill:

    Sacramento has no funds and will not have funds as long as 2/3s majority is not replaced by majority rule.

    In funding both charter and public schools, won’t that money allow charter schools to better compete for qualified teachers?

    Actually, until the ballot language for a new parcel tax is written it is impossible to know if the money for charter schools will make them more competitive.

    The measure N parcel tax was written so $1.8 million a year went to the highest performing charter schools. The director of charter schools that would receive the money could spend it for anything they wanted including their own higher salary and not pay charter school teachers a dime and be perfectly within the rules and laws of the State of California.

    Oakland Public School revenue follows the children and goes to charter schools if the children leave Oakland. Oakland School Board is facilitating a proposed parcel tax that if it assists in the growth of future charter schools, negatively impacts OUSD budget.

    When School Board members try to serve both the students of Oakland Public Schools and Oakland Charter Schools they are serving two masters. The OEA’s choice is not to support parcel tax that will divert resources away from the Oakland Public Schools. Such a choice is clearly self-interest as the fewer children attending Oakland Public Schools the fewer union jobs. Why shouldn’t the OEA be in opposition to charter schools and providing those schools they are in competition with additional resources. While charter schools are created by public school districts, once created they are hybrid of publicly funded but privately managed and should be able to stand on their own.

    The bottom line is that charter schools can go directly to the voters of Oakland and ask for resources without tagging onto the Oakland Public Schools request for money. Let charter schools ask for money on their own and let the voter have a choice as to whether or not they want to tax the taxpayers of Oakland to pay additional money to charter schools.

    I keep hearing that charter schools are all about choice. How come charter schools are not about giving the voters of Oakland a choice on whether or not they want to provide charter schools with additional money?

    Instead charter schools

    Jim Mordecai

  • Jim Mordecai

    My last sentence should have read:- “instead charter schools hide behind the public schools in their request for additional revenue.”

    Jim Mordecai

  • Harold

    When will Congress say our schools are “too big to fail”?

  • Cranky Teacher

    Jill, I suspect you also are frustrated by “bickering” in Washington and want “bipartisan solutions.”

    Well, here’s the deal. Different groups have different interests and points of view and they act accordingly.

    Sure, it is a pain but it is reality, especially when there is no history of mutual trust.

    The district thinks they are using their funds well and the union thinks a higher percentage (the state minimum would be a start) should be pushed directly into the classroom.

    I will say this for the district, they are starting to put out some high-grade propaganda supporting their position after years of Kremlinesque silence:

    http://tinyurl.com/y2ytg77

    And by propaganda, I don’t mean that they are lying — just promoting a particular position, which is not only their right but their responsibility.

    Interestingly, on the OEA website they are emphasizing the fact-finding report itself…

    http://oaklandea.com/

  • Jill

    Jim: Sorry. Don’t buy the argument. I think people are going to charter schools because they are not finding what they need or want at the public schools and for whatever reason they aren’t going private or parochial (or moving). If OUSD could find a way to retain high quality teachers, limit class sizes, and provide the perceived benefits that make charters appealing, there should be no contest or at least no contest beyond the kinds of choices parents already have in Oakland. Why not give people more options? Sounds to me like you don’t believe you could compete unless you eliminate the competition but private schools don’t have unionized teachers and I don’t see anyone clamoring to shut them down. And Cranky Teacher, reasonable people can disagree and it is hard to compromise when you are set in your ways, but let’s not let the house burn down around us while we debate over how best to put out the fire or who started it in the first place. These are absolutely complicated issues and there is a long history of mistrust, but as the fact-finding report says, it is time to find a way to move forward.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Jim,

    I think you are missing the point. The money is there to support students, not systems, not adults. It should ultimately support the systems that best meet the needs of students. If the Board sees their role as elected officials as serving students and not systems, I would see that as a positive. If charter schools are serving Oakland kids, I don’t see why they wouldn’t get some of the money designated to serve Oakland kids. Maybe charter schools should do their own separate parcel tax, but that seems idiotic to me.

    I do agree that if OEA is about the system and their membership, then it may make sense to cut off their nose to spite their face. Seems a bit nuts to me, but this whole thing seems a bit nuts to me.

    Frankly, if it’s about systems, then it’s more about adults than children and that’s when I don’t want any part of it.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Jill, as long as many Oakland schools are perceived as unsafe, parents will find ways to get their kids out. Unless the parcel tax is going for metal detectors or police, not sure paying teachers more will solve that problem.

  • Nextset

    NCLB, etc… The urban public schools are supposed to fail and are going to be closed – in favor of Charters. Odd thing is that they have fully co-operated in the process. Whether it’s union or management, there seems to be no interest in making the public schools viable as “schools”. And by that I mean the sort of (relatively) stable no-craziness places we had in Oakland in the 1960s.

    If the unions and administration don’t do something to make the people/taxpayers of Oakland identify with the schools completely the people will stand by and watch OUSD die. Same goes for Los Angeles Unified.

    I don’t think there is enough time to change what is going to occur. We would need to get rid of the rad-lib policies, return hard-core centralist politics to the school operations and manage the students better with programs suitable to the child rather than what the educrats think “all” persons should be doing. If the schools were a better fit to the needs of the students the drop and truancy rates would abate. All this is likely going to translate into segregated schools – by choice. Embrace it. Give people their choices.

    If the behavior rules were serious the comfort factor (for staff and students) would climb and those not suitable for normal school would be removed, transfer out or just go. And I do think the public school needs a social work component for placing and referring kids early and often so that their needs are met. Maybe this is asking too much…

    When this process ends the Public Teacher Unions will be completely busted. And tenure will be gone also. All that will be left is your Contract with a Charter for this year.

    Brave New World.

  • Harold

    Jill — do charter schools take in disabled students? no they cherry-pick. Do you know how much paperwork and documentation is needed to DHP a student in a comprehensive high school? They are harder to move than a “bad Teacher”!

    Charter schools want to take public money, and pretend they are private. That’s never going to fly – especially in Oakland!

  • The real issue

    Harold, your comment that charter schools do not take in disabled students is not true. The charter schools choose I know of choose students through a public lottery system.

  • Cranky Teacher

    To be honest, I don’t hate that charter schools are “in the mix” to provide variety for parent/student choice. However, they need to be kept to a fraction of the overall public schools budget unless they are going to take all comers and prove they are actually better at educating students, on average — which they have yet to do.

    I know this kind of middle of the road position will make me no friends on here. I think charters provide a bit of “creative destruction” and a challenge to the status quo, which is good, but they also should be understood as inherently risky institutions easily manipulated by particular interest groups — whether for profit, ideology or religion.

    And like private/parochial schools, and even “magnet” schools like Lowell, they are inherently somewhat elitist. But then, so is Cal Berkeley.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I would not disagree with what Cranky said about charters: they have not proven themselves to be inherently superior to public schools, they are easily manipulated by outside groups, and particularly that they are somewhat elitist. I had the misfortune to work in a charter for two years and I know firsthand how they either don’t accept students who they think won’t fit, or they make it miserable within a short time for those students, telling the parents “This is not a good fit for your child” and sending them home/calling home repeatedly or instituting such punitive measures that the family pulls the child and enrolls them back into OUSD. Yes, this was just one charter (one with a good reputation); maybe they are not all so “exclusive.”

    When the teachers at the charter tried to get retirement benefits, they were told “no”. I heard they were trying to organize, but am not sure what happened, but there are no charters here with union affiliation.

    Back to the topic: I would rather be facing having a “last, worst, we won’t negotiate” contract shoved in my face than no chance of a contract ever like charter school teachers face. I am proud to be an OEA member and will be there tonight to bear witness to what the district has to say.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Cranky, I must say you have been extremely “reasonable” lately. I’m sure that sounds like a backhanded compliment, but I agree about charter schools. If they don’t take all comers, they can’t demonstrate whether they can perform. I’m less worried about elitist than selling of fool’s gold. However, as you point out, there is nothing inherently wrong with the idea.

  • livegreen

    I want to agree with Cranky and OT’s comments above. I’m sure good Charters can be productive and part of the mix. Esp. if they prove they can accept & treat all students and teachers fairly. However it’s obvious that, just like traditional public schools, not all do and not all perform as needed. They are no magic bullet and the underperforming ones are not better than underperforming traditional schools. & they cost more to operate on top.

    We’re very happy with our traditional OUSD elementary school, and the teachers there. We hope that students, parents, teachers, & admin can all keep it progressing. That said, we realize that some parents will have the same feelings for their charter school.

  • rosa rodriguez

    jim mordecai, i’m not pro or against charter school lets make it clear. but if charter schools open their doors to those students that are missing in education because ousd teachers stike. props to them they are showing more sympathy for educating our children here in oakland.they are demonstrating with positive actions that they want to educate. i just want to know who came up with the brilliant idea to have a teachers strike days away from state testin? teachers should be preparing students for the test. why couldnt they wait for after testing. hello!! you think that wont have a negative impact on students? “SMART” (i’m using sarcasm)