Thursday, February 28, 2019

Oakland: Support growing for strike, TFA Role, Corrupt Board Cancels Meeting, Creates Phony Deficits

I reported this call for support at last night's Oakland school board meeting -- Oakland Teacher Strike - Picket at School Board Meeting. Here are some updates:
The  billionaires' lackeys on the Oakland school board cancelled their board meeting last night "for safety reasons." They had been planning to vote for more budget cuts, but were afraid to cross the community/union picket line and face the indignant public. Their corporate bosses are not accustomed to organized widespread resistance to their privatization schemes, and are reluctant to face the real people of Oakland. ... Pete Farrugio
UPDATE: Now they’ve scheduled a meeting for 8am Friday.
Of course, of course. We know the game -- in Chicago board meetings are held early in the morning when no one can come.

We are lucky to have two former NYC teacher activist colleagues from the early 70s based in Oakland: Jack Gerson and Pete Farrugio.

Pete sent this list of growing support for the strike:
Check out these expressions of solidarity:

Boots Riley, musician, filmmaker, and Oakland native, speaking at teachers’ strike rally on Tuesday (Day 4 of the strike) in front of Roots Academy in East Oakland. Roots is a middle school slated to be closed by the privatizers on the school board. Parents and students at Roots love their school and have protested vigorously against its closing. Rainy weather has not dampened the spirits of the teachers, parents, and their supporters during the strike. There is widespread support for the teachers throughout the Bay Area, including many restaurants offering special teacher discounts.
Solidarity is building as teachers in other school districts plan a sickout for Feb 28
and Oakland artists and celebrities made this video in support of Oakland Teachers by Rafael Casals, Daveed Diggs, Steph Curry, Fantastic Negrito and many others
In the meantime, there is growing controversy over the strike-breaking role Teacher for America is playing:
Ed Week - Are Teach For America Members Allowed to Go on Strike?
Oakland, Calif. teachers are on the picket lines this week—including Teach For America corps members.
But their participation in the strike over pay and class sizes wasn't guaranteed. TFA initially said Oakland corps members who go on strike would lose thousands of dollars in AmeriCorps award money that they receive at the end of each year of service. AmeriCorps, the civil service organization to which TFA members also belong, prohibits striking, since it accepts federal money.
TFA members in Los Angeles and Denver heard similar messages during their own strikes this year.
While TFA's Bay Area office initially suggested that corps members could make their own choice on whether to strike and lose a prorated chunk of the nearly $6,000 award, many TFA members said they couldn't afford to lose the money, which is meant to cover the cost of educational expenses, such as certification. Furious, more than 300 TFA alumni wrote an open letter to the Bay Area chapter, criticizing it for "union busting" and encouraging teachers to be scabs.

Tell Thurmond: Remove state trustee Learned

Yesterday the state trustee for OUSD, Christopher Learned, weighed in on the side of the school board, insisting that OUSD has a "structural deficit" such that he will veto a raise of 12% for OEA unless "deep cuts" are made.

First of all, there is no structural deficit this year and there was none last year. Mike Hutchinson has commented on this many times. I have looked at it too, and it's clear that they are fudging the books by sequestering $45 million in the Books and Supplies budget, $35 million more than they spent last year, and by increasing outsourcing (Contracts and Services) to an outrageous $93 million -- $15 million more than they originally budgeted. This isn't a structural deficit. It's privatization run amok.

Second, it's time to find out who are the real friends of public education, and who are just pretending. So here's what I found on the OUSD website:

"OUSD is required to host a State Trustee until the full amount of the loan is repaid (expected payoff date is in 2026), or until the California Department of Education determines it is no longer necessary. For more information, contact Christopher Learned at"

So state trustee Learned can be removed by the state education department. Tony Thurmond, as superintendent of public instruction, is the chief executive of that department. If Tony Thurmond is a friend of OEA and Oakland public education, he should repudiate state trustee Learned's irresponsible and factually false statements and remove him as state trustee for OUSD. And he should endorse the call to cancel OUSD's state debt, and call on that other professed friend of Oakland public education, Gavin Newsom, to vigorously campaign to get the legislature to cancel the state debt (after all, that debt tripled under the state's takeover of OUSD, 2003-2009).

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