When Thi Bui learned that Oakland Unified School District teachers were going on strike, she knew that had to do something. As a former teacher at Oakland International High School for seven years, she was all too familiar with the challenges teachers face. As a cartoonist and illustrator, though, what, exactly, could she do?
The answer was to assemble a dozen Bay Area illustrators, cartoonists, and graphic designers to visit Oakland schools on Thursday, Feb. 21, and talk to teachers directly about their personal reasons for striking. Each artist then drew portraits of the teachers they talked to, coupled with quotes from the teachers themselves.
Art by Brooke Toczylowski (Oakland, CA)
“We heard teachers worried about the effects of high teacher turnover on students’ education; frustrated by the dearth of nurses, counselors, and speech therapists at their schools; dealing with absurdly limited resources and staff; and perplexed by a system that favors administrative salaries over their kids,” says Lauren Davis, a member of Bui’s arts activism group Art Hack. “These are passionate educators fighting a battle for Oakland’s youth.”