Stand up for Public Education / Lakeview Sit-In Anniversary

Lakeview Anniversay Flyer

It’s been a almost year since OUSD and Superintendent Tony Smith officially closed 5 elementary schools: Lakeview, Maxwell Park, Thurgood Marshall, Santa Fe, and Lazeer (that later became a charter). Over this year Oakland has face many challenges, particularly to public education. The threats to a free quality public education for all continue bombard the fates of our communities, especially poor communities of color. We have seen efforts to cut the Adult Education Program, 7 million in austerity measures, fights around the Teacher’s Union Contracts, and resignation of Superintendent Tony Smith. The lack of adequate services, and high drop-out rate facing Oakland’s youth every day is unacceptable . Outside of Oakland many brave fights were taken on by teachers and students across the nations: The Chicago Teacher’s Strike, resistance to standardized testing in Seattle and beyond, and just recently the sit-in of over 100 people to save 54 schools in Chicago (the largest number of school closures in history).  In the wake of this tragic state of Public Education, not just in Oakland but Nationally, we are calling a gathering on the year anniversary of the Lakeview Sit-in in which parents, students and teachers and community members took over the school deemed to be closed for 18 day and ran their own free summer school. This celebration is not only to remember the struggle to keep the Oakland schools open but to reflect on the struggle to save Public Education as a whole. We will come together to acknowledge the inspiring hard work of many activist, teachers, students, school workers and community in the struggle to save our schools, as well as discuss the situation that lays ahead. But most of all we will celebrate, with music, food, activities for kids and speakers, the commencing of another school year and the strength and resilience of our communities. Join us, and say no more cuts to education that lead to the destruction of our communities.

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Lakeview Sit-In Anniversary

Lakeview Anniversay Flyer

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Thank you from The People’s School and Sit-in

THANK YOU 
 
from the 
Lakeview People’s School 
 and 
The Education Committee of Occupy Oakland
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To all of our comrades in the struggle for our children’s right to a quality education,
This e-mail is long over due. The Education Committee of Occupy Oakland would like to thank all of those individuals and groups who came out to support us during the Lakeview Sit-in. The Sit-in was a team effort of students, parents, teachers, school workers, community members, Occupy Oakland, unions, and the National Lawyers Guild among many others. Many of you gave hours of your free time to help in the effort to keep these five elementary schools open. We are grateful to all those who donated supplies, money, food, helped with logistics, safety, picketing, sign and banner making, event planning, and taught at the people’s school,
Your spirit and energy allowed the sit-in to continue longer than any of us would have dreamed thus drastically heightening public awareness around the dire state of public education nationally.
In spite of 9 months of marches, actions at the school board, petitions, pickets and an 18 day sit-in the relentless inhumanity of the School Board could not be swayed. The closure of Lakeview, Santa Fe, Maxwell Park, and Marshall has displaced over a thousand children and shattered communities. It is a symbol that we have a lot of work left to do.
Just over the past three months since the sit-in the attacks on public education have accelerated. In Oakland the OUSD Special Education Department continues to fight cuts and the school police presence is increasing under OPD’s new strategic plan. San Francisco City College faces historic austerity measures that will limit enrollment to only those seeking eventual transfer and a Bachelor’s Degree. All the while, the austerity measures and push towards privatization, such as the new proposed policy to allow parents to vote for school charter status, is ever increasing.The Chicago Teacher’s Union’s momentous and successful strike for a fair contract and full services and programs for their students gives us hope for the potential for collective struggle here in Oakland.
As the school year begins and our political energy may well be diverted by everyday pressures we need to begin creating alliances between teachers, patents, school workers and other struggles to build a forceful movement for quality public education and the protection students’ and teacher’s rights.
We hope that everyone continues to share in the work and keep our connections strong with in and across different issues. There is so much work to be done. We must join together to fight attacks on special education and veteran teachers. We must resist the use of standardize testing as a ruler of success for teacher’s and students. We must demand funding for more arts and extracurricular programs for all students. We cannot do this alone.
Here are some ways you can stay in touch or become a part of  the work we are doing:
1) Get a copy of our upcoming third edition of the Education Committee newsletter addressing issues facing education locally, nationally, and internationally. Available beginning of October, 2012.
2) Attend our workshop the 2012 Annual Teacher’s for Social Justice Conference, “Teachers and Parents Unite to Take Our Schools Back From the 1%”:
    Saturday, Oct 6th, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
    @ Mission High School
    3750 18th st, San Francisco, CA
3) Email us if you are interested in attending meetings and joining our group:
4) Follow our blog for up-to-date education news and articles and an electronic version of our newsletter:
5) Follow us on Facebook:
Please stay in contact. We look forward to working with you!
Again, thank you for all the work you do and for your support during the Lakeview Sit-in. It wouldn’t have been as successful with out you.
The Lakeview People’s School
and
The Education Committee of Occupy Oakland
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Thanks for all the Support! Lakeview Sit-in Celebration and Fight Forward for Public Education

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On Sunday July 15th, the students, parents and teachers of the Lakeview sit-in and People’s School for Public Education let it be known to the entire Adams Point Community that we will not stop fighting for quality public schools and we will continue building a united movement to counter the worst Tony Smith(OUSD Superintendent) and Co. have to “offer”. With the Oakland School Police looking on from across Grand Ave. on the former grounds of the Peoples School, (no doubt wasting valuable taxpayer dollars to make sure that OUSD bureaucrats can move-in to the People’s School) the People’s School Concert & celebration got underway at Splash Pad Park.

We kicked off the festivities with a few political speeches from members of the Occupy Oakland Education Committee. Then Eni, a local soul musician backed up by Midnight in the Library kicked off the evening’s live music set. They were followed by Miko, a singer/songwriter accompanied by a keyboardist delivering a couple originals and ending with “the ring of fire” by Johnny Cash.

Dregs One and the Digital Martyrs, both Bay Area hip hop artists, energized the crowd with politically conscious vocals mixed with party vibes. The hip hop continued with a performance by Boots Riley (of the Coup and Street Sweeper Social Club). Boots was backed up by Gabby La la on the funky sitar. They first rocked the crowd with “ghetto blaster” by the Street Sweeper Social Club(Boot’s most recent project with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine). And then they finished out their short set with an update of a tune from the days of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.  While we  are not entirely sure of the name of the song, we do know from the lyrics – the song provided 5 million ways the working class can rid ourselves of the CEO. Which is fitting if we consider the recent trend to label the head of public education in urban centers as  a “CEO”. The current Secretary of Education in the Obama Administration used to be the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, and we may as well call Tony Smith the CEO of Oakland Public Schools with his love for charters and union-busting.

To bring the People’s School Concert to a close, Jabari Shaw rapped a variety of his politically charged movement jams. Of which “Chop from the Top” was seemingly directed straight at Tony Smith and all OUSD bureaucrats with their inflated salaries.  “I am Oscar Grant” was also apt for this occasion as officer Barhin Bhatts(OUSD Police & the murderer of Raheim Brown) looked and listened from across Grand Ave.  Chop from the top indeed!

All in all the People’s School and Lakeview sit-in concert was a success. Events like these are instrumental in bringing people together in order to celebrate what was a great achievement for working-class families and teachers. This Sit-in and People’s School set an example in the Bay Area and across the country of the potential the people have to take back what is rightfully theirs and use it(in this case Lakeview Elementary) for its intended purpose – quality public education.  By providing a quality mix of politics and culture our committee put its best foot forward to bring more people into this struggle – in Oakland, in New Orleans, in Philadelphia, in New York, and everywhere there are school closures amongst other bureaucratic attacks on public education.

Special thanks to  Arizmendi Pizza and the Occupy Oakland BBQ committee for providing food for the event, and big big thanks also goes out to the Grand Lake Theatre for its support of our efforts. Thank you!

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Lakeview Teaches

A reflection from a bay area educator and member of the Occupy Oakland Education Committee about the Lakeview action and struggles ahead.

In the long list of defeats that keep us humble and push us forward
knowing only that growth and knowledge come quickly and are constant
yet we remain endlessly chasing wisdom
Defeat is constantly an option
and all we can do is run the risk
We never know
but we always try
As revolutionaries and as humans-
what drives our disempowered, exhausted selves
-hearing a ten year old say that they no longer want to be a cop
-when a comrade asks me to hold him because he is scared to feel his own power
-when the police scare us with trespassing notices and THEN we open the doors of a school they thought was theirs
-the anger of standing next to a killer who continues to hold more rights to a public educational space than I ever will as an educator
-the intricate maneuver of balancing security with inclusiveness (the shades of gray between being called “fascists” and keeping away “pedophiles”)
-coming “home” to 15 children: hands and faces covered in paint, making signs fighting for schools, education, our future
-that a 3 year old learned who schools really should belong to-looking at police planted where she had slept for 3 weeks stating “Who’s Schools? Our schools”
-words from a parent “Ill do my best to be out there with my son but if not keep in mind that we r there in spirit…we love you”
-A sign held by 3 little boys that says “Tony Smith…let the 99% decide”
And yet, we don’t struggle because of this emotional feedback-where momentarily we catch a glimpse of what victory might feel like
The urgency of this moment is nothing compared to the struggles of peoples around the world and through history for their liberation and lives
Humbled by our insignificance
we can also be proud
Not because we are great, unique, or special
We are ourselves at our worst moments:
passive aggressive, exhausted, inpatient, hurtful
and at our best:
hard working, caring, intentional, strategic, brave
In a struggle where nothing will be a victory until we get there
knowing we probably won’t ever see it with our own eyes
and there are no guarantees
and yet living any other way would be impossible
For a defeat, this wasn’t bad
and those moments of building:
either of ourselves, our networks, our movement, or our collective consciousness
Prepare us to continue to build these defeats
to be honest with our children that TODAY these spaces do NOT belong to us
We only confused those powers into letting us hold it for a moment
But we tasted what it could feel like
and imagined what we could build
and the work it would take
and the joy it would bring
And these sweet reminders are necessary to propel us from defeat to defeat
deepening our resolve and belief that an ultimate victory IS possible.
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Celebrate and Continue the Fight for Public Education on July 15th @ 5pm

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Click the Image to Download a PDF of Our Flyer.  Spread the Word!

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The Value of the Lakeview Sit-in and Peopleʼs School for Public Education

A Reflection on the significance of the Lakeview sit-in written by an Oakland teacher and a member of the Occupy Oakland Education Committee 

The eighteenth day of the Lakeview Elementary School Sit-in and Peopleʼs School for
Public Education experienced a police raid that successfully shut-down the direct action.
In the early morning, around 4:20am, police – led by Sargeant Barhin Bhatts, the officer
responsible for shooting and killing an unarmed Raheim Brown in January 2011- gave
an initial dispersal order and instructed all those looking to be arrested to sit in a
designated area. Two Lakeview community members chose to be arrested, one – a
parent of Lakeview and the other – an alumni and long time Lakeview supporter. All
other supporters were allowed to gather their belongings and leave the premises
without an arrest.

In response, the Education Committee of Occupy Oakland organized a rally just
outside the front gates at Lakeview and a march to an undisclosed location for 5pm that
evening.

The rally featured parents, teachers, and students who participated in the sit-in & Peopleʼs School. The program was a combination of calling out and shaming Tony Smith and the School Board for shutting down such a positive action, and also a call for people to get involved in the organizing against the austerity inspired policies of the Oakland Unified School District.

There was a militant energy in the air coupled with smoke from dried sage provided by
an indigenous elder supportive of the action. A long time Adult-Education teacher and
veteran education activist credited our action with swaying the School Board to vote
against a proposed 4 million dollar cut to Special Education. He made the point that this
marked the first time in three years that the board voted against Tony Smith and felt this
to be a contributing factor in shutting down our efforts. Three candidates for the
upcoming school board elections called on the crowd to support their campaigns to bring about a much needed change for Oaklandʼs Public Schools. Four students from the Peopleʼs School for Public Education called for an end to the police presence and for the people to continue using the building for its intended purpose – public education. More on this point later in the post. The student speeches were very inspiring and were met with loud cheering and applause. An education committee organizer wrapped up the rally with a call-out for everyone to continue actively supporting these types of actions.

After the last speaker, a recently fired OUSD teacher announced there would be a student-led march to Tony Smithʼs house to confront him face-to-face and let his entire neighborhood know just who their neighbor is and what heʼs all about. The march was filled with militant chants in favor of “education not incarceration” along with music provided by the Occupy Oakland sound team. Upon arriving to Tonyʼs house there were calls for him to “reopen or resign” and a continuation of the rally started back at Lakeview. One of the students from the Peopleʼs School called on Supt. Smith to show his face. Despite him either not being there or else hiding behind the walls of his bourgeois home, it was nonetheless positive to see many of his neighbors outside their homes and supportive of our presence in that neighborhood. All in all it was a vibrant first volley in response to the police raid on the Lakeview Sit-in.

Now back to the political nature of this action and the reason why the sit-in was an
extremely important step for the working class , i.e – the use of the building. The UseValue of a commodity is defined as the qualitative aspect of value as opposed to
exchange-value which denotes the quantitative aspect of value. The parents,
teachers, and students reopened the building, a commodity, for its use-value. The
Peopleʼs School for Public Education was holding social justice classes. Members of the
education committee were building a peopleʼs library and were to planning to call it La
Casita II (in honor of the parents who led a successful occupation to keep open a field house library on the grounds of Whittier Elementary on Chicagoʼs south side.) The
grounds around the school were being used for lessons in gardening, drumming, sports,
etc. etc. On Sunday July 1st the building was opened up to the wider Oakland
community. The education committee hosted a bbq/potluck followed by a movie
screening of The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman . All these were
arguably qualitative leaps when compared to the day-to-day operation of the former
Lakeview Elementary School. Once the state realized the building was being used not
only for a Peopleʼs School but also as a community space for political education and
culture – they quickly sent their armed thugs to smash the occupation and school.

The state, in this case Superintendent Tony Smith and the School Board, has no
interest in Lakeviewʼs (or any of the other four elementary schools) use-value. These
public schools are being closed because of the exchange value – the value of a
commodity measured in relation to the money form, of their buildings and grounds. Next
year Lakeview, located in an area with high property values, will host administrative offices. These offices will be housed there while a brand new administration building is
completed. Once the new building is ready, the district will no doubt look to rent out
Lakeview to a charter school or sell the property to a developer. Santa Fe Elementary,
the last public school in Oaklandʼs 94608 zip code, is being leased to Emeryville. Lazear
Elementary, whose parents and teachers were denied a charter by Oakland Unified
after the district recommended this course to avoid closure, will be a charter school after
all because the county granted them their charter and OUSD grudgingly allowed them
the use of the building and grounds. Why grudgingly? Because the district intended to
sell the property to Target, and the site was to become another corporate chain store.
Thurgood Marshall and Maxwell Park are both being leased to Charter School
organizations. These closures are not based on anything except Tony Smith and School
Board wanting to generate revenue to balance a public education budget decimated by
austerity. And it just so happens that this fits in with a nationwide trend to dismantle public education in favor of charter schools, which represent the transitional stages for
the ruling class to privatize education across the country.

Use-value over exchange-value is one of many reasons why the Lakeview Sit-in is an extremely important action that should be publicized far and wide. The goals of this action were clear from the beginning – the people taking back what is rightfully theirs and using it for its intended purpose while demanding that the state stop closing neighborhood schools to balance their austerity budgets, stop union-busting, and fully fund free public education. Every urban center in the country that is being bombarded with the same ruling class privatization strategy should hear about the Peopleʼs School for Public Education. The working class must continue and escalate these types of actions. Failure to do so will mean losing access to a major component of our own reproduction — Free Public
Education .

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People’s School for Public Education Student Speaks at July 3rd Rally

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July 3rd March to Tony Smith’s House

July 3rd March to Tony Smith's House

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Rally on July 3rd 5pm after morning Police Raid

Rally on July 3rd 5pm after morning Police Raid

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