From an Oakland Education Worker
In the midst of a global pandemic, with families facing illness, unemployment, eviction, and hunger, the Oakland Unified School District planned to continue closing and co-locating public schools. (In a co-location, a charter school occupies part of a public-school campus. It steals classrooms that are desperately needed for reading intervention, special education, therapy, art, and more.)
Although they couldn’t come together physically, teachers organized a three-day digital protest. Families recorded videos that were posted online and spread across social media. Teachers, families, and community members called, and emailed members of the charter school boards, the Oakland School Board, and local politicians to demand a halt to the closures and co-locations. They flooded the Board meeting with written and verbal comments. The calls and emails were made at a specific time each day, dubbed an “Hour of Power.”
Members of the charter board felt “threatened” by the onslaught of calls and emails, and the School Board announced that it would postpone the next round of closures and reconsider the co-locations. This delay in closures and co-locations is a small triumph, but it is only a pause in the attacks, not a promise to stop them. The organizing efforts will need to continue. The real success was that teachers and families have already connected with each other to organize against this attack. If we use the time during this crisis to strengthen our networks, we can be better prepared to act collectively to fight for a different future.