Photo: Ashley McBride
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A week into the Oakland teachers’ strike, around 100 educators from neighboring Bay Area districts joined their Oakland peers on the picket lines Thursday in a show of transbay solidarity.
They echoed Oakland teachers’ sentiments about better working conditions, higher pay and smaller class sizes and expressed similar struggles at schools in San Francisco, Berkeley, San Lorenzo and Albany.
Elizabeth Dutton, a math teacher at Mission High School, said the effort followed a smaller-scale sickout on Monday, when she, along with four other Mission High teachers and one student, joined the picket line at Skyline High School.
“I want to build a larger solidarity movement and eventually see California educators go on a statewide strike and build off the movement happening in Oakland,” Dutton said. “I think a larger movement is needed to make real change.”
On a normal day, 250 to 300 teachers miss school in San Francisco Unified School District. On Thursday, that number was 385.
Momentum was high following a Wednesday afternoon gathering at a scheduled school board meeting where Oakland Unified School District officials were planning to vote on $21.75 million in budget cuts. The disruption canceled the vote, which was originally scheduled for Feb. 11 but had been postponed to allow board members more time to discuss the plan. No new date has been set.
Ismael Armendariz, a member of Oakland Education Association’s bargaining unit and the first vice president of the union, said the teams had negotiated throughout the night Wednesday and ended at 5 a.m. Thursday. The school district revealed on Wednesday that it had upped its offer from a 7 percent raise plus a 1.5 percent bonus to an 8 percent raise and a 2 percent bonus.
Since the strike started Feb. 21, 87 percent of the union’s 3,000 member base participated in picket lines and 95 percent stayed out of the schools, Armendariz said. He estimated that 20,000 community members had joined picket lines over the week.
“We are on day six and we’re making movement,” he said. “We are almost there.”
Dutton said she’s taking insight from Oakland’s teachers, as contract negotiations for San Francisco teachers begin next year.
“As a rank-and-file member, I’m focused on trying to figure out what their picket lines look like but then I’m also getting inspiration from the fact that OEA hasn’t stepped down or settled.”
Several staff San Francisco’s June Jordan School for Equity, a school focused on social justice, showed up Thursday with signs in hand. Toni Gill, a paraprofessional educator at the school, said she felt compelled to show support for her hometown, Oakland.
“Eventually this is going to trickle down our way and we’re preparing for it,” Gill said. “What happens to them affects us.”
Kathya Correa Almanza, a sophomore at June Jordan, was one of a handful of San Francisco students who missed school and made the trek to Oakland.
“Even though there’s only a couple of students here from San Francisco, we’re all here in heart and we’re representing our schools,” Correa Almanza said. “Slowly but surely, everyone’s going to get the courage to come out here and fight for the change that we need.”
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Teachers-from-San-Francisco-Berkeley-elsewhere-13653667.php.