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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Government & Elections | Health, Housing, and Public Services
Rally at Lakeview Elementary Sit-In to Save Oakland Schools, 6/16/12: audio & photos
On the second day of the Lakeview Elementary Sit-In, parents, teachers, students, supporters, and school board member Alice Spearman spoke and rallied to save five Oakland schools that have now been officially declared closed with the current school year having ended. (Full audio below)
At the rally, letters were read from Oakland students, critical of the Oakland Unified School District board, and especially superintendent Tony Smith, for choosing to close the five schools this year.
OUSD budgeting priorities and decisions were questioned. For instance, while Tony Smith and the OUSD board claim the school closures will save the district two million dollars per year, it was revealed in a budgeting notice to the California state Board of Education that eight new overflow portables at Burckhalter Elementary School, which is scheduled to receive many of the displaced students, are expected to cost over one million dollars.
At one of the five schools, which the OUSD at one point declared flat out would not be able to stay open despite the protestations of teachers and parents, the OUSD has apparently found a way to keep it open, by converting the building to an anti-union, for-profit charter school, still funded through public tax dollars.
Alice Spearman, member of the OUSD board, spoke against the closures, primarily because they involve the closure of the school in her neighborhood, Thurgood Marshall Elementary. Regarding one of the demands of the sit-in, Spearman noted that it is not physically possible for the school district to refuse to make payments on the state debt incurred by state administrators during the 2003-2009 California take-over of the district because payments on the debt are simply deducted from funds that the state distributes to Oakland schools. Spearman suggested supporting Assemblymember Sandre Swanson's efforts to legislatively have the state simply forgive the entire $100 million debt, towards which the OUSD must pay six million per year. To date, Swanson's repeated efforts on debt forgiveness have not even made it out of committee in the Assembly.
Occupy Oakland is thanked profusely for providing food and supplies for the Lakeview Sit-In.
Sit-in participants again set up tents and camped overnight at the school. Currently there are plans to hold rallies daily at 2pm and there is a permanent call-out for support from those who believe in a quality public education for all at local neighborhood schools.
A 10am press conference is scheduled for Monday, June 18th, to announce plans for the all-volunteer, free summer school currently being organized for Lakeview Elementary.
For more information:
Note that the audio quality is a spotty at points early on when only a bullhorn was used by speakers but markedly improves at about thirteen minutes in when the sound system arrived (as Charles was speaking).
Pam Chinn-Scoffern, 25-year teacher at Lakeview, discusses budget issues such as the Burckhalter portables
Peter, Laney College teacher, taught at Lakeview in the past, discusses privatization of pubic education
Linda, parent afraid of what might be left for her children as they work their way up through the system
Bob Mandel was forced into retirement when, by 2010, the OUSD eliminated virtually all adult education services in the district, effecting nearly 25,000 people.
Liz, long time subsitute teacher at Marshall urges parents and students to be proactive, to sit in at Tony Smith's office