Chanting "Save our schools! No cuts, no closures," scores of Oakland teachers, parents and students hit the picket lines Friday morning in a one-day strike protesting the district’s controversial plan to shutter some of its schools.
Even though most schools in the Oakland Unified School District remained open on Friday, the district said it didn't have enough substitutes and other staff to safely hold classes, and asked families to keep their children home for the day.
Friday's labor action — the second teachers' strike in just three years — comes in response to the district's decision to close seven of its small schools and merge or shrink four others over the next two years as part of a cost-savings measure.
The district says the cuts are necessary to address declining enrollment and major budget shortfalls projected for the coming years, and pledged to redirect some of the savings to its larger neighborhood schools.
But many teachers and families say the district moved forward with its plan without the requisite community input, and argue that the closures will disproportionately affect students of color, particularly Black students and students of color with disabilities. Hundreds of parents and community members spoke out forcefully against the plan during a series of marathon school board meetings, and two teachers went on an 18-day hunger strike.