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Union letter: Send your kids to school on Thursday, at their own risk

It’s official: The Oakland school district will hold school on Thursday, despite the one-day strike. So far, about 300 emergency teachers have cleared background checks, with more in the pipeline, according to district spokesman Troy Flint; at least 60 people from the central office will head out to the schools as well.

But just in case you were thinking about sending your kids to school on strike day, this letter from the Oakland teachers union — which was sent home with children in at least one school — warns that you might be placing them in harm’s way: Continue Reading

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Oaklanders: Do you support the strike? The contract imposition?

Teachers make picket signs Thursday for strike. Photo by Ray Chavez/Tribune staff

At a news conference yesterday morning, Gary Yee placed the teacher contract imposition in the context of the district’s painful takeover history, Tony Smith said he wanted to start over and OEA executive director Ward Rountree said that was a terrible way to do it. (You can find a story about the whole situation here.)

We posted reader polls on the strike and the contract imposition, if you care to vote. Oh, and the Tribune ran an editorial saying raises for teachers would be “nice,” but that the district can’t afford them.

At the news conference yesterday, I asked Continue Reading

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Contract, imposed

It was unanimous. All seven members of the Oakland school board voted to immediately implement a contract for teachers — the same offer, made in December, that the union membership rejected.

Much of the audience cleared out soon after the vote — including me, because the district’s wireless Internet access was down, so I had to run home and send the story before my 9:15 deadline. But as I headed for the door, I heard Superintendent Tony Smith talking about new beginnings and pay increases for teachers. I stopped and pulled out my laptop again. Here’s what I was able to get down: Continue Reading

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Oakland teachers start a blog on strike (and more)

OEA flierFrom the ongoing Oakland teacher contract dispute have emerged at least two new sources of information about the struggle.

Teachers have started a blog, recently posting a downloadable flier (cropped and posted here) and news about canvassing neighborhoods this weekend. The district administration hasn’t started its own website, but it has created a page to explain its position.

On a side note, I can’t find anyone who can remember a teacher contract being imposed in Oakland, as the school board might vote to do tomorrow night. Do you know if this would be a first?

I’ll be tweeting live at the meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. at 1025 Second Ave. If you’re not on Twitter, that’s OK, you can see the updates anyway by clicking here.

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Will Oakland school board impose a contract?

They might. At a 6 p.m. special meeting on Wednesday, the Oakland school board votes on a resolution that would immediately implement the district’s “last, best and final offer” to the teachers, which was made last December and soundly rejected by the union’s membership.

You can read the resolution here and the full story here.

Do you think the board should change course and go back to the bargaining table? What should the union do?

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The OUSD fact-finding report says…

It’s been a hectic day, and I’m off to interview Diane Ravitch before her 5:30 p.m. talk at UC Berkeley’s Sibley Auditorium. I’ll have some more thoughts on the report later, but for now, here is a copy.

Fact-finding panel Chairman Christopher Burdick recommends, among other things, a shortened work year for Oakland teachers (though the same number of teaching days); to give teachers a 5 percent boost at 28 and at 30 years of service; and a salary schedule increase of 2 percent, effective January 2012, in addition to any revenues generated by a parcel tax.

He also thinks the district should set aside 60 percent of all new, unrestricted state funding for pay increases or to keep class sizes smaller.

What do you think?

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Oakland teacher strike, rescheduled (again)

OEA rally, Tribune file photo

The Oakland teachers union has decided to push back its scheduled one-day strike for a second time. It’s now set for Thursday, April 29, not April 22.

The date is linked to the timing of the much anticipated fact-finding report, which a mediator is expected to release to both sides tomorrow. 

The report will officially be made public about 10 days later, after the union and the administration have had one last chance to come to an agreement before the strike. If I happen to get a copy before then, I’ll let you know what’s in it.

The union has also planned informational picketing at schools this Thursday to let families know about the upcoming strike.

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Kappner vs. Olson-Jones for OEA president

UPDATE: Olson-Jones wins, 816 to 124.

Tania Kappner, Tribune file photoBetty Olson-Jones, Tribune file photo

Tania Kappner, a teacher at Oakland Tech and a community organizer for the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Integration Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), wants to lead the Oakland teachers union — a post currently held by two-term incumbent Betty Olson-Jones.

Voting has gone on all week, and ends at 6 p.m. Friday. If Olson-Jones defeats Kappner (who challenged her in 2008), this will be her last term.

Kappner is a regular at school board meetings, and her speeches about the state of public education are a staple, too. She uses the microphone as if it were a bullhorn at a rally, shouting passionately about the “privatization” of public education, school closures, racial inequity and, always, charter schools.

Privatization is also one of Olson-Jones’ favorite (or least favorite) terms.  Continue Reading

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The OUSD deficit: Labor weighs in

[Math Alert! While proofreading this entry for print publication, my editor actually tallied up the list of cuts proposed here. Unless I'm missing something, it adds up to more than $43 million, not the $35 million listed in the presentation.]

Seven unions that make up the Oakland Schools Labor Coalition say they have the answer to the Oakland school district’s budget woes: They have identified $35 million to cut from the school district’s general purpose fund. The presentation is posted on Wednesday night’s Oakland school board agenda.

The unions propose the following cutbacks:

  • $10 million in “excess administrators.” (The state has a maximum administrator-to-teacher ratio, and OUSD was fined $1.3 million for having 78 too many administrators in the 2006-07 school year. The unions rounded that number up to 80 and multiplied by $125,000 to reach $10 million.) Continue Reading