Oakland schools and Wednesday’s general strike

Staff Photojournalist

I’ll be blogging about the general strike for the Tribune tomorrow, and I’d love to hear how the day is shaping up for staff and families in the city’s schools. If you think of it, send me an email (kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com), message me on Facebook (facebook.com/KatyEMurphy) or post a comment below with your plans, thoughts and stories.

If you’ll be posting photos and updates on Twitter, send me your name so I can follow you! Mine is @katymurphy.

Here’s what I have so far:

  • All district-run schools will remain open tomorrow.
  • OUSD has gotten 268 requests for substitute teachers, compared to 24 for last Wednesday. (Still not sure how many have been filled.)
  • No field trips will be allowed unless an exception is made by the principals’ supervisors.
  • Oakland School for the Arts, an independently-run charter school in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood, will be closed for safety reasons.


  • A memo to families from OUSD.
  • A list of lesson plans related to the Occupy movement — taxation, wealth, the movement itself — posted on the Oakland Education Association’s website
  • A Q & A, also on the union’s website

Katy Murphy

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

  • Makeitgoaway

    You have got to be kidding…

    ( not you Katy, but the teachers/Occupy Oakland with their lesson plans)

    OUSD is in a dysfunctional crisis.

  • Thomas

    The lesson plans; a new low in the brainwashing game. Wow, I feel so stupid as a guy who used to to have a I suppor Oakalnd Teachers sign in the window.

    These guys are nothing but communists!

    Now, however, they are taking kids down with them. OUSD cannot even stop them! how inept! This is what our tax dollars go to?

    Tonight I decided, I will never support OEA Teahers on any matters. Hell- my kids go to private schools anyway.

    Go Charter!

    Taxpayers- first we get donw in by the 99%, then by the administration, and now by the CTA?

    And to think I used to be against charters

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com brokensaint

    please don’t confuse OEA with oakland teachers. I was a teacher there for 8 years. OEA never helped me with anything I or my coworkers needed help with. All the teachers I know are at school today and told all their students to come to school because their education is more important.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Thanks Brokensaint. Not all teachers agree with the direction of OEA but we do not have a choice of whether or not we pay our dues. All our staff and students are at school today but we had a very empowering conversation of fair employment practices and how to stand up for our rights. Thanks all teachers who used this as an opportunity for a very special teaching moment!

  • Bubble Burster

    OEA has comfortably lived in a bubble for years and only their apathetic masses can burst it. Most parents and teachers aren’t interested in the acrimony and don’t have the patience.

  • J.R.

    “Not all teachers agree with the direction of OEA but we do not have a choice of whether or not we pay our dues”. That speaks volumes about the true nature of an organization(NEA and CTA included).

  • Gordon Danning

    Of course teachers have a choice about whether to pay dues. Teachers who join OEA pay some money to fund collective bargaining/representation, and additional money to fund the political stuff. Teachers who don’t “agree with the direction of OEA” on politics don’t join, and only pay for collective bargaining/representation. I believe that is the case with all unions in Calif., public and private.

  • AH

    Yes, Gordon, I believe that’s true, but in my union for instance, those who don’t join pay almost the exact same amount as those who do. You pay either way.

  • J.R.

    Whether you join the union or not, agency fees will be paid.Cha-ching!!

  • Oakland Teacher

    #4 Oakland Teacher is not me, the person who has posted as Oakland Teacher since this blog began several years ago. It would be less confusing if people chose a name not already used, even if you only put a #2 after the name if you are determined to use the same name.

    I am glad to hear your school had a good experience today though.

  • OUSD Parent

    I don’t know about the older grades, but both kindergarten teachers at our elementary school had subs today. I am personally conflicted on this issue. I don’t think missing one day of K instruction is monumental in my child’s education. Honestly, I am more skeptical about how the Occupy movement would be turned into a lesson for my kids. While I consider myself pretty liberal, I want my kids to learn critical thinking. Turns out I am very glad that I was personally able to explain why their teachers were absent. To me it’s really about expressing an individual’s freedom of speech. Yes, I think the teachers could have done this after school hours but they took a personal day and did not strike. Who are we to tell them they can’t take a personal day? I think a lot of people on this blog are severally overreacting about what this implies or means about OUSD at large.

  • Non Union

    If you’re an OUSD teacher and choose not to be a member of OEA, you may request that part of your $ be refunded back to you each year. Non-union members will get this packet and information in the mail each year.

  • Teaching Oakland Kids for 21 Years

    It surprises (and saddens) me to hear teachers criticized for teaching about Occupy Oakland, and the Occupy Movement in general. Do those who criticize think kids should NOT be taught about it? This is a significant social movement (whether you agree with all or any or none of its goals or not), taking place right under our noses. Do you think that kids are unaware of it? My students, who are in ninth or tenth grade, had many questions about it. Should we not take time to answer them, and to put in context the history of social change movements, both historical and contemporary?

    I did a lesson in my advisory class, in which we considered events of the last year or so, including events in the Middle East and the Midwest, particularly in Wisconsin, and the origins of the Occupy movement, what Wall Street symbolizes. We also looked at the Occupy Movement in the context of the downturn of the economy, the imposed budget cuts here in Oakland, including in OUSD, and so on. Is someone telling me that kids should NOT be taught about this? That they should not be able to understand how and why social change movements come about? I do not advocate, but I do try to inform. It is INSANE to say that this should not be taught in classrooms.

    In terms of teachers who chose to attend; which I considered doing but finally decided not to, because of some previously scheduled parent conferences, why is it wrong for teachers to participate in a key historical event taking place in their own city? Why does this mean these teachers only care about themselves or it is irresponsible? Why assume that those who went in are better teachers? It did NOT cost any more for teachers to take this day off than any other day. I’m not JUST a teacher; I’m also a private citizen; consider myself actually hyper-responsible, and I feel to some degree, it is actually part of my responsibility to participate in my community.

    And for those of you who are not teachers, one thing you might not have considered is how much trouble a teacher has to go to to be absent. In order to take a day off, I have to leave lesson plans and other resources for any substitute, and this usually takes two or three hours to plan. I don’t take days off casually for just this reason; I spend almost as much time planning for a day off as the day off itself. It is a lot of work to be absent; not many teachers do this lightly. Those of you with other types of jobs have the “luxury” of just picking up the phone and calling in sick. Not so with teachers; being absent is a major event that requires planning. Most of the time, it is easier to go in even when sick, which I have done many times.

    But as far as my first point, of course we have to teach about it. Having a resource for lesson plans is fantastic.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Eloquently said “Teaching Oakland Kids”. I would absolutely want my own children to have been taught what is going on in the world around them.

    I cannot emphasize enough your point about being absent. Last year I was out 2x, both times actually coming in for the first hour to make sure my sub was set. Then I spent half of the day doing catch up work at home. I used personal leave days for that. This year, no absences so far, partly because even though I am allowed 5 personal leave days, it is just too much work to be absent.

    When I worked in the private sector, I called in sick if I was sick or my kids were sick. As a teacher, I just go to work. No other job is that way. I did want to be part of the rally on Wednesday, and just opted to go after school instead. When I finally get to retire, I will probably have a year of sick leave accrued.

  • PublicSchoolTeacher

    My colleague and I asked our students to write about how their families have been affected by the current economic situation in this country. I was amazed by their stories and the fact they still come to school given the circumstances in which they live. Since we are indeed their “second family”, maybe we owe it to them to participate in the OWS/General Strike movement. Hopefully our participation will make a difference and move policy. My students recognize this and are happy that their teachers took a stand against the injustice they routinely suffer each day.

  • Nextset

    PublicSchoolTeacher: So now you are qualified to teach and preach economics and who is to “blame” for the kiddies’ families’ discomfort??

    And you call this discomfort “injustice”??

    This kind of “education” is why the kiddies face retarded social & economic mobility. This is exactly why good families won’t permit their children to go to your “schools”.

    I’m not saying there is a problem with concentration of wealth and related public policy in this state and in the USA. There is. I am saying that your job as an educator of proletariat children does not include using them to indulge in your personal political games – especially when it will not benefit their readiness for industry, military enlistment, or higher education. Because that’s all you are there for. Not for political indoctrination.

    Political as well as religious indoctrination is a matter for the families unless the school is specifically selected for it – such as church schools or some other specialty school.

    Taking a slum public school and teaching it’s kiddies to be gimme-gimme-gimme slum dwellers – if that’s what you are doing – does them no service at all.

    A good school can take students with little background and raise them up to compete in this society – at least to get on the ladder of success.

    Is that what you believe you are doing with this OWS/General Strike nonsense? You are very wrong if so.

  • Not exactly

    @teaching Oakland kids & Nextest

    “one thing you might not have considered is how much trouble a teacher has to go to to be absent. In order to take a day off, I have to leave lesson plans and other resources for any substitute, and this usually takes two or three hours to plan… not many teachers do this lightly.”

    There are many, many teachers out there who take days off and don’t leave any plan whatsoever. They don’t usually have a plan themselves besides a vague idea of what they will cover or a page of scripted curriculum in a teacher manual. They are out there. They are many. They give the responsible teachers a bad name.

    @ Nextset, teachers directly or indirectly share their political views with children all the time. It takes a very skilled and professional teacher to teach things objectively.

  • Oea Must Denounce Flyer

    Having a discussion or assignment on political happenings is fine, but indoctrination is OBVIOUSLY off-limits.

    Teachers can occupy Oakland all they want, but when they irresponsibly and misleadingly encourage parents to leave school all day and join them (with kids in tow) to a scene where violent crackdowns are known to occur – those teacher have broken the public trust and should be fired.

    For distributing their personal flyers during school time, they should be disciplined. When those flyers directly or indirectly encourage children to be put at risk to support the teachers’ ideology, they should be fired. These flyers were sent out right along with the other gazillion papers that children take home. Looks and smells school sanctioned.

    The principal should be called on the carpet for allowing such communication to be distributed.

    The teachers at Bridges/Melrose are a perfect example of how some teachers have lost site of their role.

    They want to be paid and respected like they are mighty servants of the public good, but then they do ignorantly selfish things like this that undermine the legitimacy of their cause. In short, they give responsible teachers a bad name.

    Teachers: Spreading your ideology is selfish. That’s not your role.

    OEA has not denounced the actions of Melrose’s teachers who sent out flyers. Because their Executive Board sent out a statement about this, they have a responsibility to follow up. Did their statement give cover for these teachers? Did they support these actions?

    Last question? Why didn’t the sane, rational teachers try to dissuade the “flyer-guys” from doing this? Why didn’t they report them? Surely they had to know these things were distributed. Their silence speaks volumes about the school’s culture.

    Teachers rarely ever report misbehavior by their colleagues. They rarely discuss questionable activity. Same with principals. Everybody just pats each other on the back, closes the door, and hopes the damage to children isn’t too bad.

    Were the teachers disciplined? All indications are no.
    What about the principal? Nothing
    What about the principals supervisor? Nothing

    All these people should be held accountable for these irresponsible acts.

    Who are the foundations that contribute money to schools, such as this, where kids are willfully put at risk?

    Who are the businesses that partner with schools, such as this, where students are willfully put at risk? Why patronize them?

    Unless there are actions taken to distance the school, union, and district from these teachers’ irresponsible actions the appearance of approval is present.

  • Nextset

    Not exactly Says:

    Sharing political and religious views, as well as life experiences – is not a problem. That’s a good thing.

    Indoctrination is the problem. The teacher is expected to make it clear that individuals choose beliefs, policies and religions for reasons of their own. Different people are expected to have different choices. The kiddies are not expected to run around thinking (being taught) that if you don’t follow the leader you are damned to hell.

    I’m not preaching moral relativity – there are some things you don’t do or tolerate in this society and that must be made clear. This is where we review the Penal Code and the 29 other CA code books along with applicable federal law. Or we can just start with the concept of stopping at a red light and take it from there. Or maybe discuss the points behind the 10 commandments and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. And then there’s the law of gravity.

    A firm foundation of such principles might actually affect black mortality tables.

    Believe me, I am not saying a teacher shouldn’t share their own beliefs within reasonable limits. I don’t believe an ex-pornstar should be permitted to work in the schools in any capacity. Although I believe in legalizing prostitution I don’t believe Nevada whores should be on the property even for job fairs or career day. Maybe that seems a contradiction. I think it’s being reasonable. Some Adult subjects belong at Jr College (and even there you have 15 year olds taking classes nowadays).