Solidarity, yard-duty attire, donuts at Laurel Elementary

7:48 a.m.  More than a dozen teachers were gathered outside Laurel Elementary School, says reporter Angela Hill. There’s only 24 teachers at the school, and all were expected to stay out. They were bundled up in their yard-duty attire to ward against the morning chill. Coffee and boxes of donuts helped with that.

They expected most parents would keep their children at home if they were able to. By this time only one little girl and a couple of substitutes had gone in.

Margaret LeWright has taught at Laurel for 15 years but her roots there are much deeper. She went there herself, and her grandson goes there now.

“This is definitely my school,” said LeWright, a kindergarten teacher with 27 students in her class. “ I just can’t do the best job under these circumstances. It becomes child care.”

Felicity Buxton, a first-grade teacher at Laurel, has been teaching 23 years, long enough to remember the last Oakland teacher strike in 1996. Is she prepared for another long strike? She worries there may not be a choice, but she would do it “for the good of the body.”

“I was here during the last strike. I voted against the last contract because it wasn’t what I struck for,” she said. “If there is a strike this time, I want to know what I am supporting. A lot of time it ends up being about salaries. It would be nice to have a raise, but I think class size is a bigger issue. We can’t meet the needs of all the students.”