No Cuts To Our Schools! Chop From The Top!

The Oakland Unified School Board is threatening to cut $15.1 million from the OUSD (Oakland Unified School District) budget. If approved by the School Board, the cuts would be implemented this month. School administrations are being told that they have to come up with thousands of dollars to give back to the district. If these cuts get passed, there will likely be layoffs and positions left unfilled for cafeteria workers, clerical workers, substitute teachers, and special education aides. Class sizes will be increased and fewer textbooks will be available for students. The cuts are a huge attack on the children and families of Oakland.

Like public schools across the country, Oakland schools have little left to cut. They are already understaffed and don’t have the resources necessary to provide a quality education, and basic maintenance. Large class sizes make it very difficult for students to get the attention that they need and deserve. Most teachers have to fund-raise to buy basic classroom materials such as pencils, paper, markers and tissues.

In Oakland, many young people have difficult lives, surrounded by the violence of poverty. Currently these students don’t get adequate support to help them deal with these problems. If even more resources are taken from education, how many more of these young people will be pushed out of school and into the streets?

We are told that there is not enough money and that we have to sacrifice the few resources that are supposed to cover our kids’ education and everything else, from housing to healthcare. But this is a lie on every level! There is plenty of money in this society – it’s in the wrong hands.

There is even money within the OUSD budget, but what is it used for? Administrators’ annual pay has increased over $17 million just over the past four years. A budget is established every school year. But how is it spent? Last year the OUSD budgeted $10.4 million for supervisors and administrators but spent $22.3 million. In 2014, OUSD budgeted $7.1 million for private consultants and spent $22.6 million! To cover this massive overspending, officials at the OUSD drew on emergency reserves.

As a consequence of this mismanagement, the Oakland Schools face another possible state takeover. This certainly won’t correct the problem. When Sacramento took over OUSD from 2003 to 2009, the deficit increased from $65 million to $100 million. Then they shut down schools and doubled the number of for-profit charter schools.

Oakland is not broke; billions of dollars flow through the Port of Oakland every year. It is home to corporations like Pandora, Kaiser, Clorox, Sutter Health and many startups. They have profited from being in Oakland and it’s more than time for them to give back. For them $15 million is a drop in their pool of profits.

Some people have begun to fight back and say “NO!” to these cuts. Over 300 Oakland parents, teachers and students showed up and spoke at the last board meeting and the board members had to listen. People have rallied, leafleted the community and held teach-ins to educate others about where the money is. And they come up with a solution – Chop From The Top – cut administrators’ salaries and stop paying for consultants. This is a start.

Join the fight to stop the Oakland School Board from cutting more resources from the schools. Come to the next Board meeting, December 13th, 5pm, La Escuelita Education Center, 1050 2nd Ave.

By participating in this struggle, the students, parents and teachers are getting the best kind of education – learning that if we want to defend our interests, we have to depend on ourselves and organize a real fight!

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