Posted by Vivian Wu and Kathy Liang
Seven days of strike backed up by a 2,206 to 105 vote from the teacher union. 97% of OUSD students not in school. Over $7 million lost from OUSD.
Yet still, the final agreement has its flaws. Sure, our OUSD teachers will be receiving a 11% salary increase and a 3% bonus, but the demands of students were not met nor heard. So much of our values were left behind, forgotten.
On Monday, March 4, the strike was over, and schools were supposed to operate normally once again. However, with feelings of betrayal, disappointment, and anger, hundreds of students, parents, community members, and teachers gathered at La Escuelita Elementary School for the school board meeting.
YAC members Emily, Kathy, Hua, and Vivian joined the enormous crowd which started at the heart of Laney College at 9:00am. Community agreements were set and the leaders of the gathering made sure to remind everyone of their goal: to persuade the OUSD board members from cutting OUSD’s Asian Pacific Islander Student Achievement (APISA) program, Restorative Justice, and foster youth services, respectfully but passionately. Around 10:50am, the group began marching along E 10th Street to La Escuelita, where the school board meeting was being held. The loud voices of youth and adult allies strengthened as they chanted phrases such as “Ain’t no power like the power of the youth, cause the power of the youth don’t stop, say what?” and “When Oakland schools are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
Throughout the meeting, students were given one minute to share their experiences and opinions about the issue. School Board Director, Aimee Eng, received lots of backlash for cutting off people’s mics after one minute as the students felt that after that one minute was over, the board members did not care. In addition, several board members were on their phones and not making eye contact with the speakers, showing little respect to those who were sharing their personal experiences of being silenced and underrepresented. The board members voted to cut those valuable program despite the large disagreement from the community.
However, recent news has mentioned that APISA will continue on next year with restricted funds-a win to the students who shared their experiences at the school board meeting and other leaders. With this win, there is still much progress to be made, but it will only go up if we continue to unite our community.