Teachers give union leaders the go-ahead

The vote is in: Union leadership is now authorized to call an indefinite strike as long as a council of representatives from each school approve it first. (As long as it’s less than 10 days long, it’s considered a “short strike” and it won’t need the council’s approval.) The proposal won 75 percent approval last night.

The turnout was roughly the same as it was in January — 755 votes out of a membership of 2,800, including substitutes,according to OEA’s website. That’s about 25 percent.

755 total votes
565 – yes
184 – no
6 – abstained

Katy Murphy

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

  • Oakland Teacher

    Sue- I like the asterisks around *qualified”. It’s interesting to me that you are usually so positive about your son’s services/schools/program, yet you are so negative about the sped director.

    Another day, another thread? (Maybe some day over coffee?)

    Back to topic: there is a really great teacher written letter circulating that talks about the reasons this teacher is willing to strike. Some of us are copying it and sending it out to our families. We are willing to make short term sacrifices for long term gains. We are not willing to accept that some schools have all new teachers each and every year due to teachers quitting. We are not willing to accept class sizes so large that students can’t get the attention they need and teachers continually quit. Oh, and we are not willing to increase class sizes for special education classes either.

    Other school districts do not fill vacancies from TFA or similar and they don’t have the turnover that we do. We are not willing to accept high counselor ratios that result in high school students not knowing which classes they need to take to graduate. We are not willing to accept that OUSD receives more money per student ($3000 more I believe) than other districts, yet we pay our teachers less than other districts. Something needs to change in the fundamental way we do business here, and the teachers believe it is their obligation to stand up and insist on something better for everyone who is in the classroom (adults and children) or working directly with students.

  • J.R.

    GOOD NEWS!!!!!
    To the “HORROR” of the CTA(and thats a direct quote)SB 955 has passed the Senate Education Committee on a 5-4 vote. This will eliminate seniority based preference for re-hiring and instead base decision’s upon merit(evaluations and competence). They are finally getting the courage to let the principals do their jobs, and it’s about time. It’s about time they brush aside the nonsense that these “adult” professionals would act like children and get rid of someone “just because they don’t like them” or “she is a bad teacher,but the principal likes her”. Time to get real about consequences and let the principals assemble their own staff, and then the responsibility is on their shoulders, that is accountability.

  • J.R.

    Oh, there are some other CTA comments “this bill is unnecessary and it scapegoats teachers”(in whose universe)? I hope the bill becomes law, as it’s effect will be immediate and we cannot wait.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I can’t speak about all schools, but I do work in a school where the principal plays favorites, and the teacher he caters to the most, is in my opinion the weakest teacher. He is punitive toward the teacher I believe to be the strongest.

    I worked at another school previously where the new principal was severely criticized by the strongest and most experienced teachers. She retaliated by making them all switch classrooms and grades yearly, but left alone the awful teacher who did not give her a hard time.

    Sorry, but principals are sometimes highly motivated by personal feelings rather than objective standards when it comes to teachers. Some examples: Is the teacher willing to be on the SSC and rubber stamp everything ($ for chosen programs) the principal wants=5+ pts. Does the teacher ever question or criticize a principal selected program, or vote against it=20- points and a grudge carried forever.

    I have always gotten great evaluations and consider myself a good teacher, but have to come out 100% against that bill. There are too many principals who would be biased if given a mandate to hire and fire their teachers. Most principals (I hope) are decent people, but there are some who are power driven and vindictive.

    Important fact: In today’s world (especially Oakland), many schools have principals who are young and have far less teaching experience than some/many of their teachers, but for whatever reason, did not want to remain teachers. Those veteran teachers are less likely to be part of the principal’s “posse” and more likely to be penalized for their independence. Other school districts do not look to programs like TFA or OTF to be a constant backfill of all their vacancies. Their teachers stay in the district and don’t use it as a training ground. I am sick of Oakland students being used like some type of laboratory for teacher training, by people who move on to other districts or careers as soon as possible.

  • L.K.

    JR – Facts? That wasn’t my point. I believe it was Nextset who was making blanket statements about a whole class of people (teachers) and their motivations. I was merely making a suggestion on how this person could broaden his/her narrow point of view. I love your question about being in it for the money. Now that is a hoot! I’d give anything to see you make that statement in a roomful of teachers. The laughter would be deafening.

  • Ms. J.

    What is your profession? I am just curious. I am a teacher, and I read this blog (perhaps too) avidly as a source of news as well as opinion on my job, my colleagues, my district, and more general happenings in education. I think I get too sucked in and possibly devote more time to writing here than I should. Maybe I’ll try to scale back. But since it concerns me and what I spend more than half of my time doing, I think it makes sense that I’m a bit obsessed. What do you do when you’re not reading and writing your declarations here? And what gives you so much certainty about what you say?
    In whose universe, you ask, will teachers be scapegoats? In our universe, in Oakland, in California, in the United States under NCLB and now Arne Duncan. It already happens, every day, in this blog and on editorial pages and EVERYWHERE.

    BTW, I am dying for more thorough evaluations, but this bill will not ensure that I get them. But whether or not I am a good teacher (which I think I am) or will become a better one (which I strive to do), the media and public opinion will continue to lay a lot more at my door than I can reasonably be accountable for. This year, I’m teaching kids who do their homework, whose parents check in with me, who are happy and safe at home (for the most part). And their progress reflects that, as well as what I do with and for them. In previous years, I taught children who were far more troubled and less supported. And their progress reflected that, as well as what I did with and for them. I am not excusing myself from responsibility for doing my job, but I do not think a teacher’s job is to save the world. (There was a great article in the Onion a month or so ago about how many Americans are now “School-homing” their kids–very topical!) Society is complicated and people are struggling, and school is ONE piece of a puzzle.

    And those who scapegoat teachers do.

  • Ms. J.

    I meant to end by saying that I do not think a teacher’s job is to save the world, but that those who scapegoat teachers apparently do.

  • J.R.

    What do I do? computer support this, computer technician that..on and on……. Saving the world a little at a time. This reminds me of my favorite little story


    As the old man walked the beach at dawn, he noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Finally catching up with the youth, he asked him why he was doing this. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left until the morning sun.

    “But the beach goes on for miles and miles and there are millions of starfish,” countered the other. “How can your effort make any difference?”

    The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves. “It makes a difference to this one,” he said.

    Author Unknown

    You can put those children who “desire to learn” on the path which they should go. Isn’t that worth it?

    I believe for some teachers(who are the best), it is a calling, and that is primarily why they do it.

  • J.R.

    Once again,
    No matter what your union says, we are not scapegoating teachers, we are just preventing you from protecting the bad teachers, because the children are more important. Your jobs(as opposed to what your union thinks) are not a basic human right). There are bad admins, but sooner or later they are dealt with by parental complaints. We are on our third principal in five years here in a nearby school, but never(and I mean never)have any teacher been terminated(the most that the district can do is transfer them).

  • harold

    The Democratic State Assembly will not pass this bill (SB 955)in a full House vote. They know they will lose CTA funding and support in elections. This is just posturing.

  • J.R.

    The money or the kids, what will they do, maybe you are right, they might go for the money. To heck with the kids.

  • J.R.

    “I don’t represent the children. I represent the teachers”.

    — Al Shanker, former president of the American Federation of Teachers

    Is everyone connecting the dots????????????

  • Cranky Teacher

    You think it’s just a few people angry about this, once you get your head out of the union-protected box of sand it’s in, you will find out different. Oakland unemployment is extremely high, and it’s tax base is weak(even in relation to other cities), you don’t notice because you are a teacher, and your checks just keep rolling in. Why don’t you ask one of the young teachers who are getting RIF’ed what it feels like to be scared about being without a job? I do agree that admin needs to be cut to the bone, but they call the shots on that particular human resource move and they aren’t going to lay themselves off.It’s the same way that the older teachers throw the younger teachers under the bus, and don’t even flinch. If everyone at OUSD was doing their job, they never would have been taken over by the state.”

    J.R., you just keep talking and talking … but what are you saying? Teachers are spoiled? Teachers should keep their mouths shut? Teachers should not point out how our district is mismanaging its resources?

    As for the community, I’m sure there a diverse set of opinions. But absent some significant polling, here’s what we know: Parents kept their kids home from school a week ago Thursday, in the tens of thousands. Parents honked for us, shared their support for us on the picket lines, and on and on. They know what it looks like when their child spends a year with subs because OUSD can’t retain teachers, or what it looks like when their teacher quits 8 weeks in because no “pipeline” or “boot camp” for 5 weeks in the summer could prepare them for the job as virtual cannon fodder.

    Yet, you say this is about the economy, and that because my neighbors may be unemployed or underpaid, I should not demand what is fair for both teachers and students in this district. That is a reductionist argument, similar to saying if somebody is exploited at Wal-Mart because they don’t have a union, I should get rid of my union out of some misguided sense of loyalty.

    As for me, I guess you are making assumptions that I am a veteran teacher, haven’t been pink slipped, haven’t been affected by the recession, etc. All wrong. But whatever, simplicity serves your arguments.

    “The money or the kids” — the ultimate oversimplification! Of course the two are interrelated…

  • Steve

    This just seems to have become a teacher bashing blog! If you read through all of this you would think that teachers have created all of the world’s problems, and that the vast majority of them are “bad”. So many complaints for so few people. I guess teachers are responsible for the economy, toxic loans, gobal warming,unquenchable greed,ect, etc. Really teachers are in it for the pencils and the wonderful school lunches, not like the unlucky people with billion dollar bonuses and stock options

  • J.R.

    Did I say this was all about “YOU”, that is is part of your unions problem, you “think” it “IS” all about “YOU”! Is your conscience getting to you?

  • J.R.

    Sorry about the facts, but the largest part(teachers pay and bene’s)of the largest part of the state budget is involved here(40%-%50%), so yeah it is important that we not expend money on lemons. If you can’t bring yourself to see that inadequate teachers(in whatever form that takes)should not be teaching kids, and you can’t distinguish between bad and good, then I can’t help you(If you are a good teacher, you don’t have to worry).Thats the way it is here in the real world anyway.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins

    The attack rhetoric about people being “all for the children” — or not — has never made one bit of sense to me. Anyone who is a parent KNOWS that when the needs of the caregivers are well taken care of, the caregivers will be much more effective at doing their jobs.

    Exhausted, isolated, unhappy, screamed-at, resentful caregivers won’t do as good of job at taking care of their charges as if they were well-rested, supported, praised and contented. This is why I give my broad support to the teachers and their unions, instead of insulting them like some people on this blog like to do.

    There is a good reason behind why flight attendants instruct parents to put their emergency oxygen masks on first, before attending to the masks of their children. Just at when positives lavished on the adult caregivers will trickle down to the children. it’s just common sense.

    I’ve been a parent in this district for 17 years, and have known many, many teachers (100 at least!). My view is to start with a positive outlook and presume that the teachers are doing a good job. Only very rarely have I had an experience with one who is not, and I find that their continued presence in the schools is ALWAYS due to administrative weaknesses (lazy, overwhelmed, or passive principal), not the fact that unions exist. An effective principal knows how to deal with a bad teacher.

    As with dealing with children, if you start by being close-minded, judgmental and suspicious about teachers, your most negative fantasies are quite likely to come true. It relates to the old saying, “You’ll get more bees with honey.”

    Here’s a cognitive therapy tip for when you need to criticize someone. Use the 2:1:1 rule: two positives, followed by a negative, then another positive. It works wonders!

    Like this to J.R.: It’s wonderful that you are interested in education issues and it’s clear that you care about kids. However, your messages here are grotesque in how they generalize that all teachers are “bad” — something that’s just impossible to be true. Despite the negativity you express, I am still certain you must be a fair-minded person.

  • J.R.

    I said “all teachers are bad”? where exactly is that quote(date,time)?

  • Nextset

    LK: I find your post strange.

    Did I say teachers don’t care about their job? I don’t remember such a thing.

    Perhaps I could could say it doesn’t change much that they care – OUSD is still OUSD.

    It’s not as if the teachers ever set policy. Or have any control over bad students remaining in their classrooms. Or control who enrolls in which classrooms.

    For the record, our problems with OUSD is far more involved with bad students than bad teachers.

    Workers of the world, Unite!?

    This strike is nothing more than a job action over money and working conditions. The (foolish??) teachers are going to settle for less money and worse conditions that it would take to get me to work at OUSD. And I was once a sub a long time ago – and my family has 4 or more generations of public school teachers. As a rule they generally worked segregated black schools (primary through college). In present times it’s black & mexican schools.

    I’ve seen ghetto. And I’ve see higher functioning minority schools. OUSD I have (policy) problems with. But you probably know all this.

    Have a nice weekend.

  • L.K.

    Nextset – I was going off this: “The OUSD Teachers are workers negotiating for themselves. They are not negotiating for the benefit of “the students” – at all. Anyone who thinks otherwise or even wishes otherwise is deluded.”

  • Jaime

    This blog is getting pathetic Katy.

    Why do you do it? I mean I know its a job, but this is getting terrible. Only smut and smacks!

    Education used to be something to respect, now its trashed by only smut!

    This site is the TMZ of education.

  • Jenna

    I was watching the April 28 School Board Meeting on TV last night. Jody London brought up the point that only 52% (Could have been 54%) of the eligible Oakland students attend OUSD schools. Just over half.

    I have two sons – one in elementary school and one in middle school. My younger son had three consecutive years of teachers who did not teach grade level content. The last two years (same teacher who switched grades) the teacher did not know the math content for elementary school. She told the students. She uses student work to grade student work and has often left incorrect answers alone (did not mark them wrong) and has marked wrong correct answers. In the two years my son has been in her class she has not corrected a single piece of writing – not for grammar, spelling, word choice – no corrections at all. She does not teach over half of the content as defined under the California State Standards. This teacher is tenured, hired two principals ago and has used the union defense to get out of teaching the standards. She has a group of students she calls “the students who will never get it” and she has a group of students she calls “the ones with complainer parents who expect that the kids have to learn something new every day.” Everyone in her class knows who is in these groups because she uses the group names every day in class, when her aide is in the class, when the volunteers are in the class and even when the principal mentor has been in the class.

    We spend over $5,000 per year in PTA contributions, writing camps, math workshops, and science camps just to have the state curriculum taught. One of us must also take time off work to transport my son to each of these events.

    My older son is in middle school and had to give up an elective to be able to take an advanced math class “before it was time.” He was required to take his regular sixth grade math class and algebra – which was deemed his “elective.” He cannot take more than one year of foreign language because it is not offered – and because OUSD offers only one elective and for my son, it is algebra before its time, we must pay for language classes outside of school.

    We had originally planned to sent our elementary son to OUSD middle schools, but we applied for and received a scholarship to a middle school that will put our annual cost at $7,000 – more than we are spending now, but my son will not have to go to five different places to get the state standards – one school – that’s it. And he can play baseball again instead of learning writing during the time he could be playing baseball.

    So, Ms. London, if you want to know the reason why we will be part of the 48% who is not enrolled in OUSD, it is the competency of the teacher. As parents, we know there is nothing we can do about it. As the principal, she knows the only thing she can do is move the teacher down to a grade level which she must assume matches the competency of the teacher (who has not passed a CBEST or CSET and refuses to demonstrate competency). As the teacher, she knows there is nothing anyone can do, the union told her and she told us.

    So, we will be leaving. In high school, my older son will be leaving OUSD. No language classes, six periods a day instead of seven periods a day in middle and high school means 14 semesters fewer electives than other school districts in the area. It’s not about getting into a college, I know my sons will get into college. It is about a well-rounded education from teachers who have high expectations of themselves and their students. It’s about schools that do not punish students for excelling such as taking away an elective for someone who is ready to take algebra before seventh grade. And finally, it is about teaching all of the state standards to all of the students, not picking and choosing based on the flavor of the year.

    OUSD agrees to take money from the state to provide a state-standard based education. Teachers agree to teach the state standards and to differentiate for each student – they take home a paycheck and ratify contracts that say they will differentiate. Parents believe if they send their children to OUSD their children are receiving the same education they would get in any other district. In each of these cases People have taken money and have not given what they have agreed to give and parents have not received what they assumed they would get.

    So, Ms. London, that is the very long answer to your question about why we are the 48%.

  • harold

    Its hard to believe that someone who hasn’t passed the CSET or CBEST, has a tenured position. Don’t you have to pass the CBEST just to get in the front door?

    … i imagine that with higher wages, there will be more qualified people applying for Teaching positions in OUSD.

  • Jenna

    @ Harold – she got her credential before any exams were required.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Jenna, I get it. Of course many here will say you’re “teacher-bashing.” Others here are “administration-bashing.” Your stories and the stories of the administration bashers are relevant to the concerns we all have about the state of education in Oakland.

    I don’t think there is general agreement that there are highly effective teachers and schools in Oakland and at the same time, “the system” is woefully ineffective as a whole. It is ineffective for students, parents, staff, teachers and most recently, even the state. There are myriad reasons – some based in Oakland – many outside of Oakland, but NO EXCUSES.

    While I appreciate the “bashing” stories as evidence of need, I really appreciate the posts that offer a solution. Frankly, I haven’t offered many such posts. For me, it probably is more engaging to poke fun at the alternative universe which is Oakland. How folks on all sides of discussion seem content with lack of information, mischaracterizations and untruths. For me, highlighting this lack of intellectual rigor underscores the change in thinking necessary to get to some solutions.

    A couple of friends have recently become part of the 46%. They knew some “good” OUSD schools, but they didn’t get in – so they’ve moved on. We know OUSD teachers and principals (as a group) don’t send their kids to OUSD schools either. Hopefully, Dr. Smith is appropriately motivated to fix schools at least as fast as his child is growing. She will be a middle-schooler soon enough and God help her if something doesn’t change before then.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I do not see how any teacher can be working without having passed the CBEST and CSET (or the tests prior to CSET). From what I have seen, teachers who have not either taken and passed these tests demonstrating some minimum proficiency are fired. I saw one given one week to pack up in the middle of the year, and that was 4+ years ago. It was somewhat ironic, because she was an excellent teacher, but had refused to take the test on general principal. She was very strong in math, so that was not the reason. So they filled her spot with a newly credentialed “highly qualified” teacher who was a complete disaster. The kids learned nothing from the day she left.

    I also know that this year, any teacher that does not have the “latest mandatory credential” required for teaching second language learners (CLAD), is being fired. They have all received termination letters, and many of them are teachers with 30 years and even administrators. So, while initially I felt really upset by your child’s classroom experience, I must say I have a hard time believing that there are ANY teachers still in a classroom that have not passed some type of subject matter competency (CBEST, MSAT, Praxis, CSET). You can’t even stay in a classroom for longer than 30 days as a sub with just CBEST. Do those tests mean that the teacher is more than “highly qualified” except on paper? No, of course not. I must also say that just because someone receives a letter from the school district stating that the teacher is “not highly qualified”, does not mean that they haven’t passed one of these tests. It only means that they may be teaching out of their subject area, e.g. teaching English when their credential is History. My credential is not in math, but I certainly have the math skills and understanding to be able to teach Algebra (no, not Calculus), if I were to do so (I haven’t and don’t plan to).

    I have seen sixth grade students at Montera take only Algebra, in seventh grade take only Geometry, and then in eight grade their only math was Alg II and Trig at a CC. So again, what you describe is not what I have seen happen over many years. I do wish we still had a seven period day, but they don’t have those in any public school district I know of anymore.

    The teacher you describe should not be in a classroom, because anyone who describes elementary school students as “will never get it” is going to fail. As a teacher and a union member, I would never defend that. My kids have had some zingers over the years. But I adamantly disagree that students cannot learn and thrive in OUSD, and have seen exactly that happen every year in my classroom, my peers’ classrooms and my own children’s classrooms all the way through 12th grade.

    There are OUSD teachers and administrators who send their kids to OUSD schools from K-12. I hope that those of you who choose private schools are happy with your decisions and I am not going to talk trash about your school choices. What I have seen over many years is that private school “defectors”, always need to bash public schools to justify their decision to themselves and others. What I tell people who are thinking about the next transition (starting elementary, middle or high school), is to talk to families/students who DO attend public schools. If you talk to people who DON’T attend public schools or are leaving OUSD, you will hear a diatribe of all the things that are wrong with OUSD. OUSD is the one entity that everyone who doesn’t choose it, criticizes instead. I have only known of one person in the past 15 years who left OUSD who kept her mouth shut. BTW her OUSD grad got into a much better college than her private school grad.

    Why does every single thing on here always turn into a teacher trashing parade? I think that the vast majority of teachers are good, much better than the teachers I had growing up in a middle to upper-middle class school district in the suburbs that was well thought of. I never had a teacher (K-12) the caliber of some of the teachers my children have had.

    My friends who sent their kids to private school also teacher bashed. I think they were very angry that they were spending huge amounts of money on private school. But I also think that they were misguided and fearful of having their kids attend school with so many students of varying socioeconomic and racial backgrounds – sad! But what liberal wants to admit that, so instead: on to OUSD school/teacher bashing!

  • Nextset

    LK: That passage hardly equates with “Teachers not caring about their jobs”. Earning an appropriate wage is important. Teachers also have feelings about their jobs.

  • Cheuy_Leuy

    Tell me more J.R.

    What do you think of a paid OUSD Consultant using District contact numbers to promote his personal consulting business?


    There are others too…

  • Jenna

    To be clear, I was not teacher bashing. I was stating that two teachers in one elementary school were substandard. One of those teachers does not know the content, and the union is protecting her. My sons have also had excellent and fine teachers at the same school.

    At Montera, the current principal, who has done fine things in many respects – reduced the number of hallway incidents involving horseplay, use of subtle bullying by reducing the space in which some students give others to walk, and by making sure that there is finally a shop teacher. However, there are other things that are really frustrating such as an attitude toward parents who advocate for their children and their children’s needs.

    Parents should not have to have five or six parent-teacher conferences per year to be able to have their students learn in the classroom. If students are respectful, complete their homework, participate in class and in after school activities, parents and teachers should be able to work together a couple of times a year to keep education plans on track.

    I know and expect that there are private schools with similar issues. I think the big difference is that there are many kinds of private schools, Archway – for example is a small learning community of 12 – 15 students per class – Bentley has larger classes but caters to students who are intellectually and scholastically ready for very rigorous coursework. The vast majority of students do not need classrooms with 12 students, nor could the vast majority of students handle both Latin and Mandarin in elementary school. My point is that OUSD has not taken into account these two examples of schools that meet the needs of specific groups of students.

    As for the school districts that still have seven periods a day: Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Piedmont, Albany and Berkeley – these are just a few of the school districts around us who have seven periods. The advantage of seven periods a day of course is that more state standards are met in middle school and high school. Nearly every private middle and high school also has seven periods a day.

    We have many, many positive aspects of our school district. Students are making progress in learning. And, teachers make a huge difference – the vast majority in a positive way, about 10% in a negative way. Jody London and every other Board member seems to ask the same question, why do students choose private schools and charter schools – my experience is that charter schools are chosen, not because parents think students will learn more, but because most have discipline policies which make parents feel safer. Fighting at the school happens less often and the fights that do happen are less violent. Often, there is a strictly enforced dress code. Students must have homework done.

    Parents choose private schools because they feel students will be held to higher standards of learning. There are often foreign languages, music, geography and other coursework that is done in similar proportions as language arts and math. In public schools, particularly those trying to raise test scores, the time spent on language arts is 50% – 60% of the school day with math another 25% – 30% of the school day. As we know, transition – moving bodies, books, papers, etc. takes 5% – 10% of the school day, and that leaves very little time for social studies, science, music and art.

    We need to find a way in our schools to make every teacher and administrator accountable for bringing up the level of all who have student contact. Often peer pressure is needed. We also need to recognize that many, many students want to work and learn across the disciplines and we must find a way to weave in all subjects or we will lose our students to private schools, charter schools, other districts (through legitimate and illegitimate inter-district transfers), and through general drop out (by not showing up in middle school and officially dropping out of high school). We are seeing it now and we need to be mindful that parents do have choices and the parents who do see their choices will make them – and the vast majority of the choices will not benefit our school district.

    We also must begin to look at the seven period middle and high school as an option. It seems to be the only way to me to be able to meet the minimum state standards in ALL areas of the grade level curriculum.

  • Katy Murphy

    Please remember to keep your comments respectful. Criticism is one thing; name-calling is another. I’ve just deleted a comment for that reason.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I know for a fact that Berkeley does not have a 7 period day; I can’t speak to the other districts. When there are obvious errors in postings, it makes me wonder exactly how much is accurate. Most schools have an “A” period before school and/or “B” period after school. Perhaps that is what you are (mis)understanding to be the 7th period. OUSD high schools have the same.

    We would love to have class sizes as small as you mention in #79. As a matter of fact, we are united in our fight to keep class sizes small. Unfortunately, the new imposed contract will result in an increase across the board in class sizes, a huge loss for OUSD students.

    There are many things Oakland teachers would like to see improve in our schools – both in terms of the students’ learning conditions and our working conditions. That is why we are taking a stand: with over 90% of us not working on April 29, and why over 75% of our members who voted on May 3 agreed to give our OEA leaders the go-ahead in terms of future actions.

  • Been there…

    Jenna: I think you might be interested to know that 8 years ago, the teachers at Montera asked for a seven period day so that students could have the access to the core curriculum that each needed as well as having a range of electives. The teachers were told that they had to ask for a waiver from OEA to work in a condition counter to the contract. OEA, surprise surprise, denied the request because it would create for unequal work conditions within the union. Here you had a group of teachers asking, unanimously, for a waiver to do what they knew was right for their students, and they were told by the “Oakland EDUCATION Association” to basically sit down and be quiet. OEA is not about education as much as it is about maintaining equality over equity. The result is always the same: mediocrity.

  • Jenna

    @Oakland Teacher – Look at Berkeley High School’s bell schedule. I don’t understand why they would publish a bell schedule with seven periods if they had fewer than seven. The same with each of the other districts. Perhaps they intentionally publish their bell schedule wrong?

    In addition, many of these schools districts mentioned offer an A period (After school) or a B period (Before School) when they have classes in which they cannot meet the needs of the students.

    I was in no way suggesting a class of 12 students. Quite honestly, the range of students at Archway is incredibly narrow and would not serve the vast majority of Oakland children and teens. Class sizes that small limit the number and range of experiences, ideas, and abilities. And in creating such small classes, the expertise that is offered is smaller. I mentioned Archway, because it is an excellent school for students who have difficulty in working in a larger setting, playing with students who are three or four years older or younger or for students who need additional resources to meet their learning needs.

    The highest percentage of students in Oakland classrooms do not meet these criteria. However, I do believe that OUSD should have some of these smaller class sizes to meet the needs of the students who need them – however, as mentioned in 82 the OEA would say it is not equitable.

    I believe OEA believes “Equitable” = “Same” – nearly everyone on this blog, with the exception of OEA leadership understands that Equitable DOES NOT EQUAL Same.

    Students have different needs. There are students who need small class sizes and longer school days to learn one year’s curriculum – curriculum as defined by the State of California. There are students who could learn that same curriculum in four or five months and have time remaining to think more deeply, use the information across the disciplines, look more closely at details, looking for patterns or looking at trends over time. My sons do not need a class of 12 to 15 students. It would not serve them well. They enjoy larger classes of diverse students. Both sons feel comfortable with flexible groupings for different subjects that include students who are excellent in math, other students that may be at the same level or a different level in writing.

    With such a small class size it is difficult to have diversity in groups because those students who are brilliant in math also look to be ahead in other subjects. The groups become stagnant rather than flexible because there are so few students. So the fight you describe for these small class sizes of 12 to 15 students is wasted on our family – it is simple too small to provide the diversity for the needs of my sons. You could save it however for the students who need it because they are working below grade level – oh, wait, that would not be equitable, equal or the same? Would it?

  • harold

    OEA member here. I cannot speak for anyone else, but i would welcome a seven period day in Oakland.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Berkeley has “0” and “7” period. They are before and after school, just like the “A” and “B” periods in OUSD schools.

    I would love to see 7 period days as well. I would love for us to have the small class sizes seen in the private schools you mention, but I don’t understand why this particular thread is being used to discuss OUSD vs private schools. The only thing that connects the discussion is that the poster thinks teachers should not be compensated at the rate of all other Alameda County teachers because they have decided to place their child in private school. Tiresome!

  • Jenna

    I DO believe OUSD teachers deserve a raise. Whether or not I send my sons to private school OUSD teachers need a raise. I will vote to increase the tax on my home to give them a raise whether or not they are in private school – sorry if that is so tiresome.

    What I do not subscribe to is the same size classes for all schools for all students. Same is not equal. What I subscribe to is that there is differentiation of curriculum in every classroom as is in the AGREED contract between OUSD and OEA members. What I do subscribe to is learning why families choose charters, parochial and private schools so that we may learn HOW to meet the needs of more students. And finally, what I subscribe to is the belief that every child in our district is given the classroom opportunities to learn the ENTIRE state curriculum with our tax dollars without excuses.

    We simply cannot do all of these things in six periods per day. Teachers need to understand and take responsibility for differentiating the curriculum for all learners, not just those on the bottom and the middle beginning in kindergarten. Principals who do not insure that differentiation is happening in every classroom every day should be coached, counseled and let go if they cannot make the change happen. Teachers who are unwilling or unable to differentiate every day in every classroom should be trained, coached, counseled and let go if they refuse.

    OEA and the OUSD should be mindful of salaries, benefits and the needs of the teachers and the students and Oakland families should support both. At the end of the day, all students should have the opportunity to learn at the highest levels at which each individual student is capable and the very minimum standards of learning should be the minimum State of California standards.

    Tiresome but true!