On Friday, April 29, Oakland Unified School district teachers walked off the job to protest the upcoming closures of 7 Oakland public schools and the merger of 4 more in the next two years. They were met with the support of hundreds of students and parents.
So far, Parker and Community Day schools will be closing at the end of the 2022 school year. This closure alone displaces hundreds of students. Korematsu, Horace Mann, Brookfield, Carl B. Munck, and Grass Valley will close next year.
Before the Feb. 2022 vote by the OUSD board of directors, there was an uproar from OUSD teachers and parents of students.
Earlier this year, a list of the schools that would potentially close was leaked, making many OUSD families nervous about the uncertainty of their children’s educational future and safety.
“My children would potentially have to walk through a very dangerous area to get to a farther away school. It would mean that the community we’ve built over the years would be torn apart,” said Azlinah Tambu, a parent who has two students in fifth grade and one in first grade.”
The board cited the decline in enrollment and lack of funds as the reason they voted to approve the closures.
According to KQED, an estimated 93% of students at the schools affected by the plan are considered either lower-income, English learners, or foster youth, compared to the district wide average of about 80%. Black students are also disproportionately affected — about 43% of students at the eight sites on the original school closure list are Black, almost twice the proportion of Black students in the entire district.
Regardless of the budget deficit taking place, there’s a clear discrepancy in the families it affects. It’s unfair to the teachers, students, and families who are taxpayers. If this has been on the radar of the city and school district, the kids have been overlooked along with the staff members who have already been fighting for fair pay.
To the OUSD board of directors, Oakland residents are concerned about what resources will be made available to offset this unfortunate turn of events.