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Striking students outnumber teachers at Fremont

strike day at Fremont Federation. Photo by Lane Hartwell/Oakland Tribune8:45 a.m. Angela Hill reports that there were about 50 to 60 people scattered around the perimeter of Fremont High School along Foothill Boulevard, High Street and 47th Avenue.

About 15 or 20 were teachers, but most were students — some supporting the teachers and holding picket signs, but most just in small clusters hanging out with friends.

The campus looked nearly deserted, and one teacher said he counted about 70 students going in, but more than half of them soon wandered back out. So far, there had been no major confrontations.

“We have strict rules that we are not going to block anyone trying to cross the picket line,” said Sid Waxman, who has taught English for about three years in the Paul Robeson High School, one of four small schools on the Fremont campus. Robeson is slated for closure. Continue Reading

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Glenview teachers persuasive

8:15 a.m. Reporter Chris Metinko met up with striking teachers at Edna Brewer Middle School and at Glenview Elementary.

Four or five emergency subs had crossed the picket line at Glenview, but at least one decided to turn around and leave when approached by the striking teachers, said 5th grade teacher Jennifer Brouhard, a 14-year veteran of Oakland Unified.

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Skyline tries to teach; students not so interested

Skyline auditorium on strike day. Photo by D. Ross Cameron, Tribune

8:15 a.m.  Education reporter Katy Murphy watched about 60 students, four emergency substitutes, the principal and vice principal who gathered in the Skyline High School auditorium. The kids were told they would be taking part in three two-hour blocks of classes that included video, discussions and PE.

“I want this to be a day when we’ll be quite thoughtful of your teachers and your education,” said principal Bev Hansen.

After learning what was in store, a number of students tried to leave, saying they didn’t see much point in staying. But the vice principal told them to come back to the auditorium because the school was responsible for them once they had arrived on campus.

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Bret Harte parents get the message

8:20 a.m.  About 20 teachers manned the picket line at Bret Harte Middle School on Coolidge Avenue, with more scheduled to come out throughout the day, reports Angela Hill. Only about 30 students out of a student body of 750-800 had showed up for school so far.

“Our message really got out to the the community about our strike and what it means for education,” said Keith Brown, a 6th grade ESL teacher.

The teachers were quiet until the TV cameras arrived, then they all started chanting.

They said three subs and one union member crossed the line.

“It was very uncomfortable,” said English teacher Peter Mates. “We asked her not to cross, but she said she had to for financial reasons.”

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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.” Continue Reading

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Students join their teachers on the line

Students support teachers at Oakland High

Students support teachers at Oakland High

7:30 a.m.  Reporter Chris Metinko said about a dozen students had joined a group of about two dozen striking teachers and other supporters at Oakland High School on MacArthur Boulevard.

“We need our teachers to do too much to not pay them well,” said Khadijah Byrd, 16, junior.

Emily Macy, a second year social studies teacher said she thought the one day action was unifying.

teachers and students picket at Oakland High

“In Oakland we have a high turnover rate so this is helping (unite) the new teachers,” Macy said. “The older teachers have been through this before, but the new teachers haven’t.”

“Our major goal is to show the School Board and superintendent that we do have wide support from the community to be able to provide high quality education to our students,” Macy said. “The strike shows we do have a voice.

A few custodians and support staff crossed the line to work.

Rose Qabazard, one of 28 school nurses who are also affected by the contract, walked the picket line.

“Oakland Unified hasn’t had a strike for 14 years. Even if it’s a one-day strike, it brings our issues to the forefront,” she said. “It’s a wake-up call.”

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Things get heated at Piedmont Elementary

7 a.m.  Oakland school police had to intervene to help custodial staff cross a picket line at Piedmont Avenue elementary school early Thursday.

Police estimated that before 7 a.m. there were 10 strikers at McClymonds High School Complex in West Oakland, 60 at Oakland Technical High School, 5 at Piedmont Elementary, and between 25 and 35 at Skyline High School.

More school police intervention:

7:25 a.m.  Food service workers hassled at Castlemont High,  8601 MacArthur Blvd.

7:50 a.m.  Custodians hassled at Melrose Elementary on 53rd Avenue.

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Early picket lines

7 a.m.  Reporter Angela Hill met up with about a dozen strikers were out at Bret Harte Middle School this morning. They tried to get a substitute hired for the day to join them,  to no avail. Peter Mates, 63, a 7th grade teacher of English and Medieval literature, made sure he was there by 5 a.m. to try and stop the janitor from entering the school. He was unsuccessful.

“Since our teachers are so poorly paid, we can see why they would cross the picket line because they don’t want to lose a day’s pay,” Mates said. “But that would be disappointing. We’re hopeful that none will cross. But we expect that two out of 34 teachers will cross.”