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Oakland teacher strike participation: 91%

picket line at Skyline High SchoolI’m no longer at the big, musical rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza, but union leaders there have reported that 91 percent of the district’s teachers participated in today’s strike.

The CTA says the rally drew nearly 2,000 people. That number seems a bit high to me, but I’m not very good at crowd estimates. In any event, there were lots of teachers, students and parents there.

Still waiting on student attendance stats. If they reflect the numbers at Skyline (about 60-65, according to my head count this morning), McClymonds, Oakland Tech (a grand total of 12 kids, according to teacher David de Leeuw) and Futures Academy, the elementary school I toured this morning, it will be extremely low.

Troy Flint, the district spokesman, said he won’t have today’s attendance rate until tomorrow, but that it was well below 50 percent.

By the way, Flint said Adrian Kirk, the director of the Family and Community Office was at Lazear Elementary today and that Kirk was adamant that no one was turned away.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nextset

    They can strike all they want. It won’t change anything. The OUSD schools can be closed down for 3 or 6 month, it only affects the students, staff and their families. It doesn’t look like the general public will care at all.

    Now if Piedmont Unified closed the whole town of Piedmont would care. That school district is important to the property values in the town and in a way, the schools are a “reason for being” to the town. Not so OUSD.

    Strike away. People don’t care.

    If OUSD Educrats wants people to care about them, they need to tie the schools closer to the philosophy of those who count, not the rad-libs – the rad-libs are generally broke, they don’t run industries and payrolls. OUSD does not identify with industry and commerce.

    Thus the indifference to these problems. If the district collapses it’s not like we won’t have any less people (we’d want) to give jobs to.

  • Tim

    How much money in state funding did OUSD lose today because of reduced student attendance?

  • aly

    Tim- on another post a user going by Oakland Educator said OUSD can use last year’s attendance for this date, meaning they won’t lose anything. can anyone else confirm this? the most bizarre thing about today is that financially, OUSD comes out ahead…

  • Chris

    Its not fair to Lazear-since it happened at other schools in the district (from what I heard). Then again, it could be hearsay.

    I agree with that radical lefty of Lauren that someone should have went to the charter schools at the end of the school day to talk with parents and find out what happened at schools that allegedly sent kids away.

    Either way, the fact of the matter is teachers or no teachers, parents sent their kids to charter schools to avoid the strike.

    That should be of some concern to the district. Were the Oakland Charter Academy and american indian campus the only charter schools who hosted these OUSD exiles? These schools do not surprise me-they are pretty bold, but I’m curious about other charter schools.

    Tim, that is a great point!

  • Steve

    Tim and Aly it’s true the district once again made money off the backs of the workers, yes workers there were more than just the teachers out on the line. They will use another year’s attendance and pay thousands nothing.

  • Yastrzemski

    OMI, a charter, was business as usual, with the kids into Day 3 of the STAR tests.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Can’t find the link, but pretty sure the district saved/made money today. 2800 people out, 300 people paid. I’m sure they’re other costs for handling a strike, but I’m sure they were covered.

    Students lose a day of education, teachers lose a day of pay.

    The point is to garner public support and pressure the district to “comply” with their demands. Nothing more sympathetic than a teacher (maybe some nurses). I’m sure the public supported them. And students? What student is not going to support teachers as a group? That would be horrific.

    Now the question of “where’s the money” still needs to be answered.

  • Amy B.

    Regardless of your opinion on today’s actions, what I found most profound was the overwhelming support the teachers received at 66th and International. Community members stopped to chat with us and 90% of passer-bys showed some sort of support. In a community plagued by violence and hit hard by the financial crisis, we felt nothing but love all morning. There was no anger on either side, even towards though who had an obligation to report to work today. Only a sense of shared purpose-the community in which we live and work deserves the opportunity to compete for high quality employees.

    Perhaps it is because their children and families are the ones who suffer most from high turnover and lack of highly effective teachers. Or maybe just solidarity. But either way, the support inspired me to work that much harder, inside the classroom and out.

  • For the students

    @ Amy B. – Thank you for stopping by our site and showing your support. I agree… the air was filled with positivity and solidarity. The families and those who drove by showed amazing support. I appreciate the community I work in.

  • L.K.

    Tim – Average Daily Attendance is calculated based on attendance up to April 1st. Today’s action has no effect on ADA.

  • http://emeraldirises.blogspot.com/2010/04/oakland-strike-opinion.html Sarah

    What that 91% doesn’t tell us is how many teachers actually picketed/actively participated, and how many were just staying home in order to not face the picket line? The sentiment at our school seemed to be that many (at least a dozen) teachers did not support OEA’s actions, but just felt either intimidated by what their colleagues would say if they crossed. That’s unfortunate, since now those teachers lost a day’s pay for something they didn’t necessarily believe in.
    One teacher even told me that she stayed at home simply because she was worried how colleagues would respond to her when she presents professional development sessions. It’s really sad that some striking members will allow another member’s personal decision to affect their professional relationship.

    Let’s all just be adults and let each person make their own choice without harassing them about it. Is that really too much to ask?

  • Daniel

    I get the whole idea behind the union and the strike. I wouldn’t say that I am fully for it, but I get it.

    Today, my fiancee went to the district building to pick up papers for a side job she has. For this job she recruits quality teachers to OUSD. As she went in to pick up files she was asked if she was a teacher. She responded that she was not and explained she recruits quality teachers to OUSD. They then warned/threatened her to make sure to check her tires when she left the building a few minutes later.

    I get this is the case of a few bad apples, but that kind of action is frustrating and taints the whole process for me.

  • Cranky Teacher

    “It’s really sad that some striking members will allow another member’s personal decision to affect their professional relationship.”

    “I get this is the case of a few bad apples, but that kind of action is frustrating and taints the whole process for me.”

    Honestly, you guys sound like children in a grown-up world.

    Our students are dying almost every week in crazy shootings. We just spent over a trillion dollars to bail out the biggest and richest companies in the world who pay their employees millions in bonuses even when they LOSE money. Every year for eight years the already paltry power of OUSD to recruit and retain qualified staff to teach the mostly poor and mostly minority students of Oakland has become smaller, weaker, less.

    And you guys are worried about the hurt feelings of adults?

    Is this really about getting a 1% raise or a few kids less in each classroom? Yes and no. Yes, because that is the kind of minimal “victory” we might have to settle for this year, and no, because this is about a MUCH MUCH MUCH bigger struggle about the values and priorities of our whole society.

    Prioritizing politesse and the absence of discomfort over real engagement with prickly issues is just so wimpy.

    Don’t get me wrong, your fiancee should have asked that person if he or she was threatening her, asked for their name and followed up. That was a jerk move, no doubt.

    But I have no pity for folks who are too gutless to stand by their principles, whatever they might be.

  • Montclair Parent

    Looked like about 10-15% of the students showed up today. One teacher was disrespectful and had some ill-chosen words toward attending children, which is a shame since most of the teachers seemed to be making a heartfelt and respectful statement of wanting lower class sizes and to be treated fairly. It was good to see all the parent support for the teachers, but I wonder how many of us would be willing to repeal Prop 13 and pay taxes sufficient to pay teachers what they deserve?

  • starshaped

    At my school, only 30 students showed up. We had tons of community support. Many of my students walked on the line with me. One student brought me a sign he made at home, not because his parents made him, but because he wanted to express himself, and he’s just 6 years old. Parents drove by and asked if I needed anything, could they buy me lunch? Whoever says that Oakland parents and kids don’t care is living in a fool’s paradise. All parents want is for their children is to learn in an environment where they can feel safe to discover their talents. They want teachers that care for their kids. They want to have a class where the children have a sense of belonging and community. They want the continuity of having those teachers around throughout their time at the school. What does that take? Reasonable class sizes and quality teachers that have made a personal investment in Oakland. Yes, it takes money, in both teachers and salaries, but isn’t the future worth investing in?

    Also, there are very few reasons why a teacher should cross the picketline. Pending retirement is not one of them as accumulated sick days will cover it. Financial hardship is not one either. The union will hear petitions for re-imbursement due to financial hardship. Martin Luther King Jr and Cesear Chavez never crossed a picket line. Any crossing strikebreaks deserve to be called a strikebreaker from the line. No one should be threatened, but chants can only hurt if they are true. If you don’t want to work union, work at Macy’s.

  • Daniel

    @13

    I am about to be a new teacher in OUSD so I’m really interested in learning about all the ins and outs of this situation. My understanding is that this strike was called based on the contract that was imposed on the teachers’ union by the district. The district called for a freeze in salary increases with the possibility of increased class sizes. I absolutely believe that teachers should be getting paid more. In this economy however, with the public school system being funded by the government, where does the teachers’ union suggest the money come from? From what I can tell every other government run agency is losing pay whether it be furloughs or job losses. Even nurses, who have supposedly recession-proof jobs are being furloughed.

    “Our students are dying almost every week in crazy shootings. We just spent over a trillion dollars to bail out the biggest and richest companies in the world who pay their employees millions in bonuses even when they LOSE money. Every year for eight years the already paltry power of OUSD to recruit and retain qualified staff to teach the mostly poor and mostly minority students of Oakland has become smaller, weaker, less.

    And you guys are worried about the hurt feelings of adults?”

    I’m not sure I follow your train of thought here. It reads to me like you are saying that my concerns over how picketers were acting are small problems compared to the problems of the world. I agree, but fail to see how that has any relevance in discussion about the strike. Maybe you are saying that we can bailout companies to prevent a complete collapse of the U.S economy but we can’t pay more for quality teachers? I think the role of the district and the union in preventing the hiring and retention of quality teachers is a discussion for another thread.

    “Is this really about getting a 1% raise or a few kids less in each classroom? Yes and no. Yes, because that is the kind of minimal “victory” we might have to settle for this year, and no, because this is about a MUCH MUCH MUCH bigger struggle about the values and priorities of our whole society.”

    I didn’t see any picket signs about the priorities of our society. I think the slide show posted in the following post shows pretty clearly that it is about more money and fewer students in each classroom than any social prerogative. Even at the expense of making school janitors’ jobs more difficult by putting glue in the locks? That should not be the priority of our society.

    “Prioritizing politesse and the absence of discomfort over real engagement with prickly issues is just so wimpy.”

    I may be just a naïve new teacher, but I don’t see why real engagement can’t happen politely. I personally see faults in the way the union and the district misshandled the situation. It seems silly that it has to come down to threats to slash tires and pouring glue in locks. When it comes down to it the students are suffering the most.

  • starshaped

    Montclair parent

    Only 30 kids showed up. Out of over 400, that’s not 30%. I am not aware of ANY teacher at Montclair making disrespectful comments to students or their parents and I was there at 5:30.

  • starshaped

    Daniel,

    Tony Smith makes well over $200,000 a year and I’m pretty sure he does significantly less than most teachers. The problem with Oakland Unified is that it has one of the highest paid administrators in the state and yet the lowest paid teachers in Alameda county. How does that make sense. Yes, even the smallest raise would be great. Lower class sizes, yes please.

    You are naive and will probably only last 5 years tops because being a teacher consumes your whole life. There is very little discourse when there is too much double speak. I was at a meeting at parent’s meeting at Peralta and Troy Christmas was there. He told the assembled crowd that the district had sent a letter to Betty Olson Jones the previous night but the union hadn’t responded to and notified its members yet. I was sitting with a co-worker, who was at the union with Betty until 8 that night and no such letter came. Troy Christmas KNEW that it hadn’t been delievered yet but he straight-up told the community that it had. That makes it look like the union wasn’t informing its members. It turns out, the hand delievered letter was recieved about the same time that Troy was speaking at Peralta. How can you have a civilized discourse with people who aren’t playing the same game?

  • Daniel

    Starshaped,

    Thanks for the information and the anecdote illustrating your stance. I definitely think that teachers deserve to be paid more and class sizes should be smaller. I would have to take a more detailed look at the distribution of funds in OUSD before I can make a truly informed statement on teacher-administrator salaries.

    I am also disheartened that a teacher would tell an incoming teacher that they think they will only last 5 years tops. I am switching careers and am taking a significant pay cut to make a bigger difference in the community that I live. I hope that I will be able to gain the support of all teachers, new and veteran alike, and other community members to better serve the children we are all working so hard to help.

  • harlemmoon

    So, now what?
    What changed in the past 24 hours? What was accomplished exactly?
    Did OUSD find more money while you were away? Has public perception of OUSD improved? Did the children learn anything of value today?

    I was in a pizza joint when one of the local channels aired the story of the strike. A senior citizen stopped eating to give a listen. After a few seconds, she sighed loudly, turned away from the screen and grumbled: “They don’t know what work is! Fire ‘em all and let ‘em see how hard a job it is to find work!”

    To that, nearly every customer cheered and applauded.

    That about says it all.

  • J.R.

    “I am also disheartened that a teacher would tell an incoming teacher that they think they will only last 5 years tops”.

    It speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

  • PinkertonsNeeded

    I crossed the lines the other day(normal day substitute). I respected the show of solidarity of the striking members showed with each other. But, I thought it was disturbing to see the strikers lure students over with donuts and then “convince” (read badger) them into not attending school. The OEA rep was disgusting; “You’re lower than the sh*t on the bottom of my shoe!” Really? You’re striking for a well deserved 15% & you harass me for showing up to earn 200% more than my daily rate. Me the guy without any healthcare–save the state sponsored indigent program. Me the guy that brings his own lesson plans, convinces students that taking a break when subs show up could possibly waste a half a month a year (if their teachers uses their sick days), me the guy that pays for your union without receiving ANY of the benefits.

    I’m all for group actions to change the status quo. But, you all just represented the age old crabs in a barrel mentality. Get angry at the District, the State, or the Fed. Any. . .ANY person walking into a school to work with the students automatically earns a pass.

    I don’t understand why you all walked the schools anyway? You shoulda been at the Capital, down on 2nd St, or even around some of our big corporations that have dodged paying taxes for so long.

    I said it when I walked by –”Who you lookin at?”

    Know your enemy or you’ll never win your battle.

  • Troy Christmas

    I will probably get in trouble for this, but although I suffer through much misinformation here, I would really rather not suffer through misinformation about me personally.

    The letter mentioned in post #18 was sent via email with the following timestamp which I just cut & paste from my email account:

    “Sent: Mon 4/26/2010 5:23 PM”

    I’m sure those who received it would be happy to confirm.

    Further, I said nothing about what the union had or had not done in notifying its members because I had no information one way or the other.

  • Ms. J.

    PinkertonsNeeded,
    Just FYI, I think I speak for MANY teachers when I say, please do not bring your own lesson plans. We write lesson plans for the days we are absent (very few, in my case, and most of them required by district trainings), and we hope that you will stick to them. I also don’t know what you mean by “ANY person walking into a school to work with the students automatically earns a pass.” On what basis? A pass from what?

  • Ms. J.

    Oh, and for all the people who want OUSD to install spyware on these computers, I am writing this during my lunch break.

  • PinkertonsNeeded

    Mr. J. #24,

    You know half of you don’t leave plans, leave inadequate plans, leave plans that are two levels below the students ability (worksheet), leave plans that do not require the full class period (assuming they’ll be off task), etc. So yes I will bring a plans.

    Lastly, people that work in the schools (Principals, Custodial, Subs, etc) should be recognized for their service. They shouldn’t be jeered or barred entry because one union decides to strike.

  • PinkertonsNeeded

    Wait I apologize. There’s no need for me to tell you about the schools, subplans, etc. Hope you get your contract and achieving students.

  • Starshaped

    Troy Christmas,

    From the OEA website:

    “Late Tuesday afternoon we received a letter from Superintendent Tony Smith requesting a meeting next week to discuss a return to bargaining.This is what we have been demanding since the Fact-Finder’s Report was issued April 13! It is clear that our consistent message is showing results. This means it is even more vitally important that OEA members stand strong tomorrow on the picket lines! We need our message to be loud and clear — Oakland educators will not settle for higher class sizes, we will not settle for remaining at the bottom of all Alameda County districts in compensation, we will not settle for watching our Adult Education program eliminated!”

  • Amy Mueller, Parent

    I find the post from the OEA website disheartening. i wish there was a way for the teachers and the district to unify for a quality education for the kids. The district needs to make cuts in the budget, and children are the priority. so adult education may have to be curtailed for the time being while the financial issues are straightened out.

  • L.K.

    To all the anti-union folks here: The 15% raise is a bargaining position to be negotiated. Speaking for myself, I realize there is a budget emergency going on, but why should that lock me into a 3 year pay freeze? As the economy turns around tax receipts will increase and school districts will get more money. I, and many others I have spoken to, can accept an emergency one year contract. So what was I striking for? Number one for me is the class size increase. I will continue to get paid whether I have 20 or 30 students in my class. It is my students who will suffer by being in an overcrowded class, not getting the attention they need. Small classes are so important. The other thing is being locked in to an extended pay freeze. All of us OUSD teachers have been working under an extended pay freeze for several years now. Enough is enough. Regarding the scattered incidents of vandalism, please don’t take them as representing all OUSD teachers. At my sight, we were respectful towards the non-OEA staff who were required to cross (OUSD sent them a warning letter) and students who had to be at the school. Talking to teachers at other sights, that seemed to be the case for them as well. As for OEA members who crossed or stayed home, I have no sympathy for them. They will benefit from the sacrifices made by those who put themselves on the line.

  • Amy Mueller, Parent

    hear, hear for small class size and teacher pay… teachers deserve the world. preeminant.
    i take issue with the adult education cuts. which, while important, seem like the right priority for cuts.

  • Troy Christmas

    Starshaped,

    It is not my interest to have a back & forth on this point. It is my interest to correct misinformation. You mentioned a hand-delivered letter and I mentioned an email a day earlier. I will not speculate about the information on OEA’s website, but I remain confident that if you check my statements directly with your leadership, you will find them accurate.

    I continue to hope that any misunderstanding can be corrected in this simple way, but rest assured I have ample documentary evidence to support my statements.

    I also hope you understand why I felt it important to respond directly to allegations that I lied to parents, teachers and community. Integrity is always important, but it is precisely in such challenging times as ours that integrity is most important.

  • Montclair Parent

    Starshaped,

    I said “looked like 10-15%”, not 30%. I was making a rough estimate on what I saw. If truly only 30 kids, then it is about 8% of the 368 listed as the total size. I was on the picket line supporting the teachers although I don’t think I would do it again due to what I heard but I truly hope the teachers get what they deserve and will continue to support them. Best of luck.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Hi Daniel,

    “I may be just a naïve new teacher, but I don’t see why real engagement can’t happen politely. I personally see faults in the way the union and the district misshandled the situation. It seems silly that it has to come down to threats to slash tires and pouring glue in locks. When it comes down to it the students are suffering the most.”

    My point wasn’t to endorse glue or any other vandalism. It was about keeping the focus on the big picture.

    I grew up in Oakland and I teach there now. Yes, I think you are naive. Yes, I think you are missing the point.

    Look, you either think the teachers’ working conditions are the students’ learning conditions are the same, or you don’t. I do.

    Let me guess — you are 25, went to a good college and are coming in through TFA or OTF. You are a good person, but you don’t know if this is a career or a stint in the domestic version of Peace Corps.

    All power to you, we welcome your arrival and hope you’ll put your shoulder to the wheel — it’s certainly heavy enough. But don’t act like a know-it-all Ms. Manners, please, until you’ve walked a few miles in our shoes.

    Sincerely,
    Cranky Teacher

    p.s. When you become a teacher, you will BE the union. The union is not just 3-4 harried organizers in the office, it is all of us who work for the Oakland Unified School District and are not at a charter school. If you don’t think we should fight to maintain a viable recruitment/retention wage, then you can convince your peers and lead the movement in a different direction.

  • Oakland Parent/Teacher

    I am even more unhappy as an Oakland Parent than I am as an Oakland teacher.

    Every single year, one of my own children has had a teacher quit early to mid-year because of the imbalance between pay and difficulty of work. Yes, you could say “They knew what the salary would be.” While that is true, when you are faced with incredibly long days (especially for the new secondary teachers with all the grading), difficult students, too large classes, and then low salary on top of it – it is tough for me to blame them when they bail. But as a parent, I blame the system itself and pray my kids’ teachers will last the year each and every year.

    This is also a second career for me, one that I now earn only slightly more than I earned at a career with no graduate degree 20 years ago. I went to grad school, incurred student loans, and got a Masters Degree to help prepare me to teach. I am in it for the long haul, but can’t realistically expect others to follow my path under these working conditions. I have seen so many energetic new teachers leave Oakland that it pains me. They move on to other school districts where the pay is higher, they get more support in the classroom, and the students are not as high need.

    On top of that, class size makes a real difference to children, especially those who need extra support.

    I am the face of OEA and proud to be part of a group determined to change the “Status Quo” in Oakland.

  • Daniel

    Cranky,

    I really don’t want to get into a back and forth of word twisting, resume/credential measuring, and name-calling. That really isn’t what I am here for. I think I made it clear that I am here to learn more about OUSD and the relations between the district and union.

    You are right, as a teacher I will be part of the union and therefore I want to know exactly how it is representing me. Do I agree with the vast majority of what the union wants? Absolutely. Will I disagree with some of their ideas or tactics? I’m sure I will. But, I don’t think that automatically makes me a teacher/union hater that doesn’t think teachers should get paid more and work in better conditions like you insinuate. That is totally misleading and not representative of my views at all.

    If my attempts to learn more have come off as seeming like a “know-it-all Ms. Manners”, then I apologize. I thought I prefaced my opinions pretty clearly with the fact that I am still learning about the situation and am only here to find out more. If you felt like I was trying to impose my knowledge on you, then that really was not my intention. I’m not sure why being polite rubs you the wrong way though.

    My original point was that my personal interaction with the strike was not a positive one. Sure, that doesn’t have anything to do with the big picture or the problems of the world, like you stated, but that is how it affected my life. Maybe this isn’t the place to share and discuss personal experiences in OUSD as that will be missing the big picture.

    Daniel

  • Ms C

    I have to preface my statements below with the fact that while I have been a member of the union for the past four years my efforts at becoming involved with them have been paltry. Not that this is an excuse, but there simply isn’t enough time at the end of the day for me to dedicate further to the cause of education. I am just too drained. Having said that, I now opine that the union’s intentions are good but their means to the end are questionable.

    I have not met any union representative who is not passionate about their work and believes in what they do. However, the system is flawed. The union is SUPPOSED to represent all teachers but does not. From what I have heard, site representatives do not do an adequate job of “reading the temperature” of the staff at their school. The majority of the staff at my school have mixed feelings about the union. This is not necessarily the site representative’s fault, as they too are overworked teachers. As a result of this un-democratic process, the loudest voices of the union have been self-selected and therefore not necessarily indicative of overall teacher opinion. Unfortunately, I do not have solutions to resolve this other than making sure that union representatives are given an extra prep period a day.

    I have a few suggestions for the union if a strike occurs again:
    - I noticed very few people other than teachers at the various picketing sites. Perhaps if this was not already done, the union should publicize the strike to other community members so that they may support us. A simple stack of flyers to distribute at each school site would have been great.
    - Teachers were not sure what to tell our supporters who wanted to help further our cause. Perhaps a small business card or flyer to give to passersby with the contact information of Tony Smith, the OUSD superintendent, would have been useful in encouraging outside pressure on the district.
    - During the rally, many people spoke but no classroom teachers spoke. I think the most heart-wrenching stories come from the teachers, many of whom work in atrocious conditions that may shock the general public into further pressuring the district. Many think we have it easy because of supposedly short work hours and long vacations. The fact is that I personally work 50+ hour weeks, have gotten injured breaking up fights, deal with daily anger from impoverished students living in broken homes, and tutor after school without pay. The school sometimes has toilet paper in the bathrooms and sometimes not. There is often on hot water in the bathrooms, even in the winter. The heating was not on during the entire winter such that I became sick on a monthly basis. None of my windows open for the summer.

    Additionally, I think the priorities of the union should be the following in order of importance:
    1. Make the job less stressful for teachers by limiting the number of preps and/or increasing the number of prep periods that teachers have.
    2. Push for sufficiently trained and experienced teachers to enter high-needs schools, not Oakland Teaching Fellows or TFA participants, who enter into teaching with virtually no training. In other words, don’t feed young, idealistic fighters for social justice to the wolves, because when you do you lose teachers and destabilize already fragile communities.
    3. Push for the district to be in compliance with state law. Do not accept a contract which allows the district to spend more than half its money on central administration rather than on direct impacts to the classroom.
    4. Finally, push for salaries to be commensurate with other surrounding districts. This is not an excess demand, as we arguable work in more difficult circumstances than most neighboring districts. If change is to occur, we need to be able to attract teachers to the region.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Yeah, Daniel — I guess it just seems I always hear folks use the nuts and ideologues among us as the rationale for disengagement, and that starts to feel like a cop-out.

    I actually think the current leadership of the union is very centered, compared to some of the confrontationalists who were leading it in the past.

  • http://yahoo.com what the heck

    How can Oakland be hiring new teachers when they are laying teachers off? Who do you know Daniel?

  • Katy Murphy

    what the heck: OUSD did not lay off tenured K-12 teachers strictly for financial reasons this year. The district sent “Reduction in Force” (pink slip) notices to teachers who hadn’t received (or who hadn’t proven they had received) a certain credential (to teach English learners, I believe), as well as to a number of adult education teachers. OUSD also fired 47 first- and second-year teachers — “probationary” teachers, who can be let go without even knowing why — but those staffing decisions aren’t supposed to be budget-related.

    This is partly because OUSD has such a high attrition rate; about 14 percent of its teachers leave the district each year. I do wonder, though, given the smaller staffing projections and the rough job market, how many new teachers will be hired, and for what subjects/grade levels.

  • L.K.

    OUSD always lays off probationary teachers. I have found that OUSD has never been very good at making projections. They underestimate enrollment at schools where I have taught. Every spring, new teachers are let go and every fall, new teachers are hired. It’s hard to build up the next generation of teachers with such a turnover. There are ways that the OEA can help OUSD with this were there a good working relationship between the two.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Cranky, I agree. I was affiliated with OUSD back in the Visnick era and it seems Ms. Olson-Jones is a breath of fresh air, but just as committed.

  • Union Supporter-But

    @ Daniel and @ Cranky Teacher – You may be naive and you may not yet be a teacher in Oakland who, as correctly stated, will be a union member.

    But I am not 25 and single. I am 55 and raising two sons. I am a union member – and there is almost no room, either at my school or at a meeting like tonight’s to offer any opinion other than what the majority expects.

    If you try to bring up that teachers at a school site do not know the material they teach (such as the math or science) and that you feel they should have to teach a grade level or two below where they are teaching or ramp up skills, you have other teachers YELLING in your face that we have to be united for all teachers and that this “infighting” will break out ability to get a good contract.

    When you, as a union teacher go to the union steward and state that you are frustrated at having to teach two years’ material because the teacher before you consistently, year after year shows Disney movies every other week, loads in art projects and cannot teach math and science which means that you are teaching fourth and fifth grade math and science in fifth grade to get students caught up – you will be told that you are betraying your “brothers and sisters.”

    There is no room to bring up legitimate complaints in our union – we simply don’t recognize that teachers have to know the content they teach, learn it or move to a grade in which they are able to do the content themselves. We are told to take “photographic evidence of scabs.” We are also told that “it is very bad to cross a picket line so sometimes we must show parents, students and scabs how bad it is.”

    We should have the right to disagree. We should have the right to have a work stoppage. We should have the right to teach one grade level – the grade we teach – or if we have a combination class – we should have to teach one grade level to some students and another grade level to another set of students not two grade levels to one set to cover a brother or sister.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Union-supporter-but,
    Welcome to democracy – union style. This is how well-meaning organizations are taken over by extremists. Not saying OEA has been because I don’t think it’s gotten that bad, but when the pressure is on, reasonable voices (in any organization) are squeezed out by zealots.

    Those who want to avoid this scenario have the choice of not showing up and losing their voice, showing up and keeping quiet or trying to voice their opinion in fear of ridicule or possible retaliation.

    Not pretty. Sorry you have to deal with it.

  • J.R.

    Union supporter,
    I hope you never end up ostracized,(in your own personal Gulag)so to speak. The collective is strong and all disagree will be assimilated one way or another.

  • Cranky Teacher

    L.K., you’re right, but at least in recent years, OUSD has been pretty measured with its pink slips compared to other districts I am familiar with. In many districts, EVERY prob and many tenured teachers get pinks and RIFs as a matter of course.

    At San Lorenzo High this year, the incompetent Broad-trained administrators RIF’ed half their science teachers, based on seniority, and even though they would almost certainly be hired back (science teachers are not easy to come by), several have said screw it and jumped to different districts — including academy heads and past winners of teacher of the year…

    Lots of talk about incompetent teachers — how about incompetent admin?

  • Harold

    @USB – OEA does not hire or fire. OUSD hired the Teacher.
    Maybe, you should direct your anger at them?

    Did your OEA representative say what you wrote(…betraying your “brothers and sisters.”)?

    …or is that speculation?

  • Union Supporter-But

    Exact quote was “she needs more than one year to learn the material. Do not criticize her in the teacher’s meeting, she is our sister.”

  • Union Supporter-But

    The new principal is trying to have the teacher’s math skills evaluated because she has consistently assigned homework without teaching the materials. Several parents complained to the principal. This teacher has specifically told students “do not ask me questions about the math, I don’t know. Ask your parents.” We know this is true because the parent who had their child put a recorder in his desk played it for several parents and the principal. Teacher refused and went to the union. They agreed.

    Teacher filed a complaint, first with the union steward and then an official complaint that she was being discriminated against – she is not, she is not teaching. Union steward who has to two grades of material in math because of the incompetence, tried to remain neutral. Union agrees with the teacher.

    Principal paid for training and a sub out of school funds. Teacher did not show up because she claimed a “transportation problem.” School asked for reimbursement from teacher. Teacher refused union supported. Now there is no training and less money for those of us who want additional training – yes – in Si Swun math.

    Teacher refuses to take ACCLAIM classes in the summer even when the school will pay and teacher will earn $100 stipend for the week. Union agrees – it’s teacher’s time off.

    This particular teacher had more than three-quarters of her class score 90% or better on the CST in math last year. The latest benchmark has just over have the class scoring 58% or better. The remainder of the students scoring under 50%.

    Shame on all of us for allowing this teacher to stay in the classroom when she does not know the content.

  • J.R.

    lots of talk about incompetent teachers — how about incompetent admin?

    How about stupid “seniority rules” set by incompetent union people that are being followed and exercised by admins who don’t have much choice, or they face the wrath of that very same union.People are opening their eyes and seeing through the double talk, there is no hiding it any longer.