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Oakland teachers union sets date for strike

OEA unveils its demands, way back in January 2008

If things continue in the next three weeks as they have for the last two years, Oakland teachers will hold a one-day strike on Wednesday, March 24.

The union can’t legally strike yet; it has to wait until a fact-finding panel (which heard evidence from both sides last week) releases a report with recommendations – probably sometime next week, or the week after that.

In January, the union’s membership authorized its leaders to call a one-day strike, so this is another big step in that direction. You can find the Tribune story about it here.

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On the agenda: Charters, protests and Tilden

Oakland Unified’s hard-line charter schools office says the district should renew its contracts with two schools: Oakland School for the Arts, a middle and high school located in the renovated Fox Theater building downtown, and Berkley Maynard, one of six charters in Oakland that are run by Aspire Public Schools, a management organization.

image by Nick Bygon, flickr.com/creativecommons

image by Nick Bygon, flickr.com/creativecommons

Also on Wednesday’s school board agenda is a “conditional endorsement” of the March 4 Statewide Day to Defend Public Education, which will include public schools, colleges and universities.

Translation: The district will support a “teach-in” and demonstrations before and after school — as long as the actions don’t “impede student learning,” according to OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint.

Betty Olson-Jones, the teachers union president, says there is not a strike planned for March 4, but that some teachers and students plan to be out of school that day. Others, she said, will picket before school starts or, possibly, take their children on a “walking field trip” to demonstrate.

Continue Reading

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You compare: teacher compensation in 15 Bay Area districts

UPDATE: Ed-Data has since come out with its 2008-09 salary figures; I’ve added them to this updated spreadsheet

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If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably no stranger to the Ed-Data Web site, a rich source of information about schools.

Some of you have already used the site to show how Oakland’s teacher compensation falls short, but here is a spreadsheet I compiled that compares low, high and average salaries in Oakland Unified and 14 nearby districts, based on 2007-08 data (the most recent available), as well as teacher experience in each district.

The first sheet lists the districts alphabetically, and the second one sorts them in descending order by average salary. I’ll bet you’ll never guess where Oakland falls! Continue Reading

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Oakland teachers vote for one-day strike

Hundreds of Oakland teachers union members who turned out to a meeting tonight voted to authorize its leadership to call a strike, once it’s legal.

The vote: 726 yes, 45 no.

The Oakland Education Association represents about 2,800 employees, including teachers, counselors and librarians, according to its Web site. If you round up to 800 participants (and if the 2,800 figure is accurate), voter participation comes to about 29 percent. Continue Reading

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Teachers union gets a jump-start on strike vote

teacher contractOn Wednesday evening at Oakland Technical High School, Oakland teachers will vote on whether to authorize its leadership to call a one-day strike — not now, but in a month or two. 

When I first saw a flier advertising the membership meeting (which, ahem, includes an unattributed Tribune photo apparently lifted from the Web), I was confused by what I read. Why a vote at this stage, weeks before a strike is legal? Continue Reading

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Teachers union, district hit another wall

In their final offer to the union’s bargaining team — which was rejected and called “unconscionable” by the union – district administrators offered teachers an unchanged salary schedule (no cuts, no increases) and said they wouldn’t cut elementary school teachers’ prep periods, according to union President Betty Olson-Jones.

Both sides say they want to avoid a strike, but they can’t even seem to agree on whether mediation has ended or whether they can discuss what I just wrote about (you can find the full story here). Continue Reading

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Masked Oakland teachers protest pay, conditions


photo courtesy of Craig Gordon, Oakland Education Association

Oakland teachers, who have been working without a contract for a year, gave a new meaning to school board drama last night; they greeted the new superintendent and the school board behind theater masks. According to union president Betty Olson-Jones, the masks were “a visual representation of the state administration from a teachers perspective.”

“Teachers have been treated like cogs in a wheel, like pawns on a chessboard,” she said, before adding that “A teacher’s working conditions are a child’s learning conditions.”

So, yes, plenty of familiar rhetoric, but there were a number of new voices, too. Teachers talked about larger class sizes this fall, the scarcity of special needs aides, new testing for kindergartners (timing how fast they can read the alphabet), Continue Reading

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A potential teacher strike in Richmond

I wonder if this latest development in the West Contra Costa school district has the OUSD administration worried. The Oakland school district’s former state administrator, as you might recall, declared impasse in bargaining just before Superintendent Tony Smith came in. Now there’s a third-party mediator involved.

You can read the Contra Costa Times story about last night’s strike authorization vote here.

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Boo! Hiss!


image by Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group-East Bay

I wasn’t at yesterday’s local control ceremony, but I read that a number of teachers – protesting the bargaining impasse — were shouting over the speakers, booing and hissing. (Is hissing particularly popular in the Bay Area/California? My first exposure to this form of protest was in Hayward, over four years ago.)

I often hear that teachers want to be seen — and treated — as professionals, and most would agree that they should be.  Continue Reading