Oakland public school teachers refused to show up for work on Thursday, launching a strike that is the latest in a nationwide series of teachers’ protests in the “#RedforEd” movement.
The Oakland Education Association (OEA) is demanding a 12% raise over three years from the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). Teachers also want smaller class sizes, more support staff, and restrictions on charter schools supported by “billionaires” like Bill and Melinda Gates.
— NEA (@NEAToday) February 21, 2019
— Eric Blanc (@_ericblanc) February 21, 2019
The strike is affecting 37,000 students in the district. The OUSD prepared in advance, Bay Area public radio station KQED reported last week, by arranging for “emergency temporary teachers and district staff” to supervise students whose parents could not keep them home.
The non-profit Teach for America organization is being criticized for allegedly encouraging its teachers to cross the picket line as “scabs” to continue serving students.
I’m disgusted that @TeachForAmerica is encouraging its teachers to be SCABS in Oakland. They are proving that they don’t support public schools, teachers or students. Sickening.
— 2011teacher (@2011teacher) February 21, 2019
As Breitbart News reported Monday, citing news reports in California media, a neutral state-appointed fact-finder recommended an agreement that would include a raise of 3% each year for two years, followed by a negotiation for another increase in the third year. The fact-finder also recommended reducing average class size by one.
But teachers rejected those terms. The OUSD is running short of money and says it cannot meet teachers’ demands.
SFGate.com notes that the Oakland strike is part of the nationwide “Red for Ed” movement, which started by organizing teachers in conservative “red states.” In 2019, SFGate.com reports, the movement is focusing on fighting charter schools in “blue states,” where — ironically — liberal mega-donors are involved in school reform.
CNN has predicted that the Oakland strike “will be different from all the others,” because of the vast wealth gap emerging between the tech elite of the San Francisco Bay Area and the rest of the population, which is struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living.
Oakland teachers complain that conditions are forcing many of their colleagues to quit their jobs. But Oakland is not alone in that regard: the Wall Street Journal noted recently that many teachers are finding more lucrative opportunities elsewhere in a rapidly-growing economy where there are more open jobs than unemployed people.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.