On Saturday afternoon, Oakland Unified School District employee Timothy Killings stood in front of a crowd of parents, teachers and community members scattered across the lawn at Markham Elementary School in East Oakland.
“The point of this town hall is to bring the sites under the most immediate threat together, so we could get some plans of actions going,” he said. “Truth be told, we should have been in the streets, like, yesterday.”
The group had assembled to plan protests of the district's planned school consolidations.
Sitting in clusters together in the grass, looking like students at recess, participants debated whether or not teachers should strike, school board members should be recalled, and other solutions, like lobbying state lawmakers in Sacramento to send funding to stave off the district’s budget woes. One idea floated would even see opponents of school closures partner with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers at Oakland’s port, since both say they are fighting privatization — of the port and of schools.
When not organizing resistance, Killings is a case manager at Oakland Unified School District’s Westlake Middle School. But on Saturday, his day off, he helped organize Oakland residents to push back against the district's proposed school closures, mergers and grade truncations.
The latest version of the district’s plan would close two schools — Parker K-8 and Community Day — this year. Five other schools—Korematsu, Horace Mann, Brookfield, Carl B. Munck and Grass Valley — would be shuttered at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. Lastly, two additional schools — Rise Community Elementary and New Highland Academy — would be merged this year, and another two — Hillcrest and La Escuelita — would see the number of grades they teach decrease.