We demand that OUSD Superintendent Tony Smith immediately REOPEN the closed schools OR RESIGN
Every child deserves a quality neighborhood public school. The district has the power to keep Lakeview, Santa Fe, Marshall, Maxwell Park, and Lazear open next year. We demand that they do so. The district has announced plans to close up to 30 schools in the next several years. We won’t let them close one more school. School closures increase the instability in neighborhoods already suffering from the severe cuts to essential public services. School closures hurt black and brown communities. Four of the five schools slated for closure are predominantly black; the fifth is predominantly Latino. School closures are a national attack, denying working class, black, and brown students the right to a quality public education and destabilizing their communities. Philadelphia is closing 40 schools. New York City is closing 24 schools. Chicago has closed dozens of schools. Jefferson Parish (Louisiana) is closing several of its schools.
Closing the schools has traumatized children & jeopardized their safety
We demand that OUSD provide transportation for all displaced students
The Tony Smith and the school board have offered no plan to facilitate safe transportation to and from the new schools. Children will be put on public buses to make complex cross-town journeys alone, in many cases returning from afterschool programs after dark. Closing the schools will separate children from beloved teachers, breaking lines of continuity that, in some cases, stretch back three generations. It will destroy community networks, threatening the bonds between neighboring families who meet every day at school. It will further destabilize communities already suffering from high levels of violence and poverty. It will impact attendance, criminalizing children who can’t make it to school, who can then be arrested by truancy officers. Closing schools will demoralize the children, making them feel worthless and unwanted.
Stop handing over our schools and our students to charter schools! Put student needs above the administration’s needs! We demand the school board fire Superintendent Tony Smith – OUSD’s biggest charter school proponent
Lakeview Elementary’s building will be handed over to district administrators to use for their offices. OUSD is telling our young people that Administrators needs for a prime-location is more important than students’ needs for stability. Oakland has highest percentage of students in charter schools of any urban school district in California. 4 out of the 5 closed schools – Santa Fe, Marshall, Maxwell Park, Lazear – will be replaced by charter schools. OUSD Superintendent Tony Smith is a long-time ally of the corporate pro-charter foundations, charter schools and privatization firms. Support for charter schools is support for downsizing and downgrading public education. Charter schools get public money, but they are privately run and controlled. Charter schools are exempt from sections of the state education code that protect the rights of students and teachers. Few charter schools provide services for students with special needs, something all public schools are required to do. The growth of charter schools in Oakland is part of the larger privatization movement.
Stop union-busting! Supported teachers& school workers strengthen our schools
Teachers’ working conditions ARE students’ learning conditions. Teachers and students both do best with small classes, adequate resources, supportive environments, and fully-funded and fully-staffed schools. Across the country, teachers unions have led the fight against school privatization. The district’s union busting tactics are a strategic move to silence the opposition to privatization. Oakland teachers have been without a contract for the past four years—We need to reward and retain experienced teachers, not underpay them, harass them, and force them out. We need to stop trampling on schoolworkers’ working conditions and rights: this includes ending Tony Smith’s imposition of “Acceleration TSAs” at Castlemont, Fremont, and McClymonds High Schools, which forces teachers to reapply for their jobs every year, thus increasing teacher turnover in schools with some of the highest teacher turnover rates in Oakland, and also the highest drop-out rates.
Fully fund quality public education!
We need fully staffed, fully resourced, safe, clean schools. We need schools with libraries, small classes, and experienced, caring teachers. We need schools with adequate support staff – librarians, counselors, clerical staff, nurses, conflict mediators and family support staff. We need schools that encourage students’ creativity and curiosity, support critical thinking and teach students’ their own cultural history. We must replace standardized multiple-choice tests in favor of authentic, teacher-designed assessments.
OUSD’s debt tripled during the state takeover – from $37 million in 2003 to $110 million in 2010. The state drove up the debt while they ran the district. If they will refuse to forgive these unjust debt payments, then we must refuse to pay them.
While Oakland schools struggle to stay open, the Governor is spending 1.3 billion this year to build new prisons and jail beds across the state. Instead of hiring more school police officers for the coming school year, the district could prevent the destabilizing effects of school closures by keeping these schools open. Investing in public education and meaningful jobs is the most effective way to address terrifyingly high dropout rates, jobless rates and violence.
Bail Out Schools,
The big banks got a bailout of trillions of dollars in 2008 – 2010. Now they’re lining up for more free money from the public. They got bailed out, we got sold out. Fully fund public education and other essential programs.