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OUSD Strike – Perspective from a former teacher

Day 1

OEA Teacher Strike (Oakland)

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Notes 2/21/2019

Today is the first Official day of the OEA Oakland teacher strike. Because I no longer work with OUSD and am at Kipp bridge, I am no longer part of that union. Therefore I am not directly involved in the strike. Nonetheless this week, Presidents week, was giving off to us Employees of KIPP. Education from my perspective, more specifically the public school system in the United States has never been a major priority, least of all it has not been made sure to have been done correctly.

 

I noticed the students in my classroom directly reflect many of the subtle toxins we allow, consciously and unconsciously in our society. They re-create amongst themselves the same patterns and behaviors they see outside of the school. Observing my students allows me to see the larger spectrum of what the students are subjected to when they go home and the variety of results these experiences produce.

 

What does this have to do with the first day of the strike for teachers in Oakland? The strike is a direct result of the satisfaction of a particular portion of larger society. However it affects everyone, directly and indirectly. Many of these dissatisfactions which are being publicly demonstrated via protest will inevitably be reflected by the students.

My concern is that if these teachers cannot thoroughly and effectively articulate their dissatisfaction to their students, then these same students will continue to reflect the dissatisfaction inside and outside of the classroom. Sounds ideal right? That depends on who you ask.

I see the underlying misfortune. We will have-and continue to produce generations of “rebels without a cause”—Emotional revolutionaries with no real guidance. Sure, students will see their teachers united against a common issue and in solidarity towards a common goal. But do they see themselves reaping the benefits of that “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow“?

 

let’s say, hypothetically , students do see themselves being rewarded by teachers standing up for themselves. What will happen if these rewards are not delivered? certain expectations are not met? Will the same demonstrations that helped the teachers be perpetuated by the students? These are just a few of my current contemplations. Only time will tell.

 

Day 2

OEA Teacher Strike (Oakland)

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Notes 2/22/2019

Today is the second day of the strike. according the the update of OEA the strike was present in west oakland in the area where i currently work. coincidentally there is no school today at KIPP bridge. if there was a ‘bullet’ it just missed bridge’s campus. something inside my head asks why i’m not on the ground with the rest of the teachers protesting. there are a few things that come to mind, for one i’ve never resonated with striking and picketing. my upbringing has always taught me to never fight to get into a place that doesn’t want you. that being said my true feeling is that if teachers really had the collective best interest in mind, we would all get together and create our own school like Yu Ming Charter School did. Simply because a group of parents could not find a school with mandarin incorporated into its curriculum, up to their collective standard, they got together and created a school where they met the standard because they created their standard.

 

second reason i feel i am not on the ground with the rest of the teachers is i can not afford to sacrifice my current position with this charter school. as selfish as this may seem, given my experience with the district school i was at last year with not only the administration but also the lack of proper assistance from the same union that is at the forefront of the protest now, it seems a little hypocritical on all fronts for me to participate in a thing where i do not believe deeply in my soul that it’s right. furthering the irony, one of the demands of the OEA union is to put a cap on the charter schools within Oakland school district and eventually eliminate the ones that currently exist. Now, although i may agree with many of the points the teachers may have made, i’m not in a position where i will shoot myself in the foot and or bite that hand that feeds me. For better or worse, KIPP public charter school was there when the district had made its decision to restrict not only myself but many other black males from returning to the classrooms to educate the vast majority of youth that desperately needs us. So we inevitability find safe havens within the classrooms of charter schools. but even after all that being said, who really misses out? not us teachers, the students who will inescapably miss out on the customized, relatable and relevant methods that young black excellent educators have to offer. in Oakland, for many of our youth, this can be the difference between life and death.

 

Lastly, the reason i do not find myself on the ground with the rest of OEA teachers is because i do not believe that the union truly has the best interest of the students at hand. Just in practice alone, the sole purpose of the union is in place for teachers. Although, listed amongst the demands are a few points geared towards the student body and its  involvement however, I do not see students as being held as a priority.