Teachers Strike Close to Graduation Leaves Students in Limbo

11 min
New Haven School District teachers on strike, June 6, 2019. (Devin Katayama/KQED)

The New Haven Teachers Association rejected an offer Thursday from district leaders hoping to put an end to a 14-day teachers strike at the East Bay school district.

The ongoing stalemate over pay comes as the end of the school year nears, leaving high-schoolers and graduating seniors in limbo. The New Haven Teachers Association,  representing more than 560 teachers, are in the middle of their first teachers strike in the district's more than 50-year history.

"This is unprecedented here," said Joseph Geha, a reporter for the

James Logan High School in Union City, June 6, 2019. (Ericka Cruz Guevarra/KQED)

East Bay Times and Mercury News. "These are kids who are missing 12, 13 days of education at the end of the year; some who are trying to move onto college and might have some conditional acceptance letter."

Students who wait on the final weeks of school to make up assignments, take their final exams and work with teachers to boost their grades aren't able to bet on that after all. Few students are showing up to school at all as their teachers hold picket lines outside of campus.

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"There are a lot of students who are like, right on the edge," said Christian Weaver, a senior at James Logan High School. "Especially seniors who are right on the edge of being able to graduate. But they need just like two more points in their grade to be able to do that, and the final is kind of their last hope."

The strike, which began on May 20, has turned into a stalemate over pay. Teachers at the district, which serves schools in Union City and South Hayward, are among the highest paid in Alameda County. But they say they live in one of the most expensive areas in the country, and that their salaries are offset by the fact that they have to pay for their own health insurance. Higher wages would help live and work in the communities they teach in, teachers say.

With final exams slated to start Monday, students stood alongside teachers at the picket line during the ninth day of the strike, May 31, 2019.
With final exams slated to start Monday, students stood alongside teachers at the picket line during the ninth day of the strike on May 31, 2019. (Sruti Mamidanna/KQED)

The union initially asked for a 20-percent pay raise over two years. Both sides have since traded deals back and forth, but the teachers union has so far rejected all offers from the district. The union has since reduced its demands to a 6 percent total raise for the 2019-20 school year. They're also asking to be compensated for all the days they’ve been on the picket lines.

"Now what you have is this big state of limbo, especially for younger classmen who don't even know if they're going to have a final exam next week, or if they're going to have some sort of free time off," Geha said. "No one, whether it be the district or the teachers, have said that they want students to pay academically for this strike."

Click the "listen" button above to hear more details about the strike and the students at New Haven School District.

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