Tag Archives: Struggle

Youth Organizing in Seattle

3 Aug

One area we try to take seriously in organizing is working with youth.  So it’s always great to see examples of youth stepping up, like this example from Seattle in protests around the acquittal of George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s killer.   Read the full article here: http://creativitynotcontrol.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/high-school-students-self-organize/.

Some of the organizing we do is reading and studying with youth, helping them write a youth newsletter, and going to actions together and collectively analyzing them and the different participants.  We would love to do more–this is work we’ve started relatively recently–and hope to get involved in more campaign work soon.  In the meantime, though, we’re trying to strategize around how to do sustainable and radical youth organizing.  What ideas do yall have?  The article we link to highlights the potentials of youth self-organizing ending with the question of “Teachers: how can we teach in ways that support this kind of student self-organization, instead of thwarting or coopting it?”  What do yall think is the healthy amount of hands-on and hands-off work in organizing with youth?  And what kind of work does that even look like?

All Out for Trayvon–Monday 6P @ 14th/Broadway

14 Jul

We all have already heard the verdict. Now is the time to respond. We must respond in at least 2 ways. First, it is crucial that we come out now, immediately after the verdict, to show and build our power in the streets. Teachers, parents, and students should all show up at the rally Monday and show solidarity. It is being endorsed by many organizations of the left and groups struggling against racism.  If you are part of an organization, you too should move to endorse it.

Second, we must build further and deeper. We should look to school walkouts of students and work actions by teachers.  Both have precedents in Oakland. Soon after Trayvon was murdered, a few 100 Fremont High students walked. We should follow that example. In terms of work actions, during the Oscar Grant struggles, ILWU Local 10 shutdown the port on Oct. 23, 2010, which many Oakland teachers supported. Teachers should amplify these steps.

For now, since we’re on vacations, we should show our solidarity and march in the streets bringing friends. But whenever we have the opportunity to show our power where we are most powerful–in the schools that we operate and use–we must be ready to act.

No to racist violence of the state and system!
Yes to teacher, student, and parent power to shutdown this system and shutdown the racism!

Show our power at this rally on Monday, 7/15, 6P at Oscar Grant Plaza (14th/Broadway)!

trayvoncolor3

 

Click the image above to download it as a flyer.

All Out for Oakland Schools! Tomorrow, Wedn., 5:30 @ Board Meeting!

21 May

Join Oakland parents, teachers, and students in Adult Ed and K-12 tomorrow to demand:

Save and rebuild adult education!

Grant teachers a fair contract!

Reduce Special Ed Case Loads!

Rally at 5:30 at the School Board (La Escuelita Elementary: 1050 2nd Avenue, btwn 10th & 12th St).

Click the flyer below to download.

Save and rebuild adult educationSave and rebuild adult education2

Stop the $7.6 Million in Cuts to Oakland Schools! Here are 2 ways to act now!

13 Feb

We are currently distributing this email blast and flyer around Oakland schools.  You can help stop these cuts too!  There are 2 ways to tap in:

  1. Please fill in the cuts your school is facing at the bottom in the comments section.  The more we are sharing this info, the more we can organize across different schools.  Unity is power.

  2. Copy a version of this flyer.  Fill in your school’s specific cuts where we left space.  Then pass it around to teachers, staff, parents, and students at your schools.  When people see the concrete effects of the cuts, they’re more likely to act.  Click here to download an editable English version of the flyerClick here for a Spanish version.

Stop the $7.6 Million in Cuts!

OUSD’s Priorities Are Upside-Down!


The numbers don’t add up!

We know that the district has gotten infusions of money, some of which we’ve fought for like Prop 30 and Measure J. We know there is money in the reserve budget. We know consultants get paid out millions every year. But yet, the district is still claiming empty pockets. They’re trying to hide political moves – to close schools, eliminate adult education, shift funding to charters and private contractors, de-prioritize Special Ed students – through moving numbers around.


In just two years, the administration has mismanaged millions of our dollars. First, they lost $7 million of QEIA grants because they failed to keep class sizes low enough. Then, they said an accounting error in Special Ed forced them to make cuts of $8 million. Now, they have a new accounting error of $7.6 million. This is unacceptable! Whatever their excuse, the effects are the same: cuts to our kids.

For years they have continued to cut from classrooms, students, parents and community but at no point have cut their own salaries. We say enough is enough. Our kids deserve better. We demand better!

Chop From the Top!

More Money for Classrooms!

Maintain and Rebuild Adult Ed!

Refuse to Pay the State Debt!

Not One Cut!

 

What can you do?

1) Educate your school. We made a template of a flyer you can pass out. We even left a part for you to fill in with your school’s specific cuts to make it concrete for people.  Find the template on classroomstruggle.org.

2) Share awareness. List all cuts on classroomstruggle.org.

3) Demand: Not One Cut!

Solidarity with Seattle Teachers and Students Refusing Pointless Standardized Tests!

8 Feb

 

Students have refused to take the MAP test in solidarity with the teachers.

Many students have refused to take the MAP test in solidarity with the teachers.

Solidarity with Seattle Teachers and Students Refusing Pointless Standardized Tests!

 

As Classroom Struggle, we would like to send our deep respect and solidarity to the teachers, parents and students resisting standardized testing in Seattle. Teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle, WA have courageously boycotted the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) test, teachers at three other Seattle schools (The Center School, Chief Sealth International High School, and Orca K-8 School) have joined this boycott, and eight other area schools and organizations have signed solidarity statements.

The purpose of this solidarity statement is to: 1) provide ways to gain pertinent information and updates in order for education organizations, teachers, parents and students to be informed and show their support, 2) inspire the spread of these kinds of direct actions to send a strong warning to school district administrations that useless testing consuming valuable instruction/learning time will not be tolerated, 3) to show our support for the teachers, students and parents engaged in this struggle in Seattle.

“Our teachers have come together and agree that the MAP test is not good for our students, nor is it an appropriate or useful tool in measuring progress,”  Kris McBride – Academic Dean and Testing Coordinator at Garfield High School.

The MAP test is administered two to three times a year to 9th graders. The test has no impact on student grades or class standing, and isn’t aligned with students’ learning expectations (state and district standards).  However, the results of the test will be used by the district to evaluate teacher effectiveness.

“We really think our teachers are making the right decision,”  Obadiah Stevens-Terry – student body president.

This struggle is also being waged by some students who are mobilizing to join the boycott by answering ‘C’ for Creativity not control on all questions of the MAP test. For more information on the boycott please visit creativitynotcontrol.wordpress.com. Creativity Not Control is a group of educators organizing to spread this boycott to schools in working class neighborhoods. They intend to pass out flyers on the boycott at two South End schools over the next two weeks.

We fully support the testing boycott at Garfield High and other Seattle schools.

In OUSD we also are forced to spend unnecessary time on standardized testing, often do not see our student’s learning accurately represented by these tests, see the funding of our schools connected to these tests and see curriculum shaped by these tests as opposed to the needs of our students.

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Why Teachers Should Care About the Contract: Aram Mendoza

1 Feb

This is a recent article from our newest newsletter analyzing the OEA contract struggle.  We post it here so you can access the citations and hyperlinks.  Here, Aram Mendoza analyzes the current contract negotiations of OEA and its importance for Oakland teachers and, more widely, the needs of Oakland students.  Aram also raises some very concrete tactics and next steps for individual teachers and teachers as a whole.

CTU FairContractNow

A Chicago teacher on strike last fall.

Why Teachers Should Care About the Contract

By Aram Mendoza

Oakland teachers, do we care about having a union?
Do we care about having a good contract?
What is an imposition and what should teachers do about it?

These are not rhetorical questions.

The reality is that we have been under an imposed “contract” since 2010.  What does this mean?  Simply put: Tony Smith and the OUSD school board have unilaterally, dictatorially, and undemocratically imposed terms of work upon education workers.  It means that the “last, best, and final” offer was put on the table by the OUSD district bargaining team and was NOT agreed to by the OEA bargaining team. Though this imposition was carried out in April of 2010 (which was why OEA’s last strike was in that same month), it was not the last time that Smith and the Board have imposed on education workers: last year’s “Accelerated TSA” campaign was imposed on Fremont, McClymonds, and Castlemont teachers without any public, democratic process.  More on this later.

Back to our current contract situation – we must ask: does our contract really matter?  As I’ve talked to co-workers and friends who are teachers in Oakland’s public schools I’ve come to see the total lack of information that we have in relation to our own contractual agreement with the district.

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LA High School Fights Against LAUSD’s Scorched-Earth Restructuring

5 Dec

A black, brown, and working class school slated for restructuring.  Years of neglect and mismanagement by the central district.  A top-down, careerist superintendent.  Veteran and outspoken teachers at risk for dismissal.  And maybe most importantly, parents, teachers, and students fighting back.

This could be describing Oakland but in this case it’s Los Angeles.  Right now Crenshaw High School is under threat just as Oakland schools have been.  Just as schools in working class, black and brown neighborhoods across the country have been.  But at the same time as the corporate-driven austerity (e.g. budget cuts and taking schools out of democratic control) attacks increase, there are signs of increasing fightbacks, such as in Chicago, anti-school closure struggles across the country, and of course here in Oakland.  While it’s too soon to say if a movement to defend and transform public education is maturing, it’s never too soon to support others in struggle against the austerity program.  So please read this letter from organizers at Crenshaw High, pass it on, and get in touch with the organizers at caputoprl@aol.com if you want to involve yourself deeper.  An injury to one is an injury to all!

The letter follows the introductory paragraphs.

A protest at Crenshaw High, Los Angeles.

A protest at Crenshaw High, Los Angeles.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I hope you’re very well. I’m writing hoping that you can urgently pass this copy-and-pasted article on to your networks. There is a struggle occurring in Los Angeles that will have local and national implications — between Superintendent Deasy and stakeholders at Crenshaw High School. Deasy is one of the most nationally-known superintendents and represents a scorched-earth approach to reform, sometimes referred to as being part of the “Ed Reformers” grouping, along with Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, and others. Some say Deasy has national aspirations. Crenshaw High School is nationally-known for its arts and athletics, and has come to be known more recently for a nationally-recognized Extended Learning Cultural model, based on meeting all students’ needs, true administration-union collaboration, cultural relevance, and community investment and connection.

Superintendent Deasy now wants to reconstitute Crenshaw High School. An important struggle is emerging.

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Lessons from the Lakeview Sit-In

4 Dec

Here we are almost 6 months on from the Lakeview Sit-In.  The school has now been turned into offices and at least one-fifth of the former students of the 5 closed elementary schools have left the district.  Many of the ones that have stayed are now being taught in portables.  Clearly we did not achieve our major goals, even though now the Administration will think twice about closing more schools.  This article tries to capture some of the positives and negatives of the school closure struggle in order to glean lessons for us today and going forward.  They are just the reflections of one person.  So please contribute your thoughts too. It is imperative that we all collectively reflect, struggle, and keep our schools open for students.

Lakeview Banner w Kid

Lessons from the Lakeview Sit-In

By N. Finch

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Editor’s Note: This was written by a member of the Education Committee of Occupy Oakland which co-organized the Sit-In with parents and teachers of the 5 schools.

We sat-in at Lakeview Elementary June 15th but the seeds for our People’s School had been planted much earlier. Beginning in September, 2011, parents, teachers, and students from the 5 schools slated for closure fought to keep their schools open. Clearly the main surge of struggle was leading up to the October 26th vote, but beyond then parents and teachers continued organizing—refusing to accept the destruction of neighborhood schools as somehow advancing the vision of “Community Schools, Thriving Students.” They attempted all the official ways of lodging complaints: attending meeting after meeting at the Board, holding press conferences and rallies. As the District continued stonewalling them, they moved steadily more confrontational, refusing to accept the Administration’s flawed logic. They sued OUSD and even tried recalling the Board members who voted to close the schools. All of these outlets are intended to persuade the Administration to change course when their policies are proven wrong (See Reply to OUSD by Jack Gerson, in this newsletter). But in this case, we were faced with an intransigent Administration fully committed to privatizing our public schools and a yes-men Board. It was in this context, with all other avenues exhausted, that we walked into Lakeview June 15th to keep our 5 schools open.

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Lakeview Teaches

4 Dec

Sometimes deep and poignant struggle is hard to capture in words.  But when someone is able to it helps keep the transformative moment alive in our hearts and pushes us on to the next upsurge.  Thankfully this reflection by a key participant of the Lakeview Sit-In truly revives what we felt during the 18 whirlwind days at the People’s School.  We hope it also carries you on to the next Lakeview.

Lakeview March 2Lakeview Class

Lakeview Teaches

By Margarita Monteverde

In the long list of defeats that keep us humble and push us forward

knowing only that growth and knowledge come quickly and are constant

yet we remain endlessly chasing wisdom

Defeat is constantly an option

and all we can do is run the risk

We never know, but we always try

As revolutionaries and as humans-

what drives our disempowered, exhausted selves

-hearing a ten year old say that they no longer want to be a cop

-when a comrade asks me to hold him because he is scared to feel his own power

-when the police scare us with trespassing notices and THEN we open the doors of a school they thought was theirs

-the anger of standing next to a killer who continues to hold more rights to a public educational space than I ever will as an educator

-the intricate maneuver of balancing security with inclusiveness (the shades of gray between being called “fascists” and keeping away “pedophiles”)

-coming “home” to 15 children: hands and faces covered in paint, making signs fighting for schools, education, our future

-that a 3 year old learned who schools really should belong to-looking at police planted where she had slept for 3 weeks stating “Who’s Schools? Our schools”

-words from a parent “Ill do my best to be out there with my son but if not keep in mind that we r there in spirit…we love you”

-A sign held by 3 little boys that says “Tony Smith…let the 99% decide”

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Reply to OUSD from the Lakeview Sit-In and People’s School

4 Dec

The Lakeview Sit-in lasted for 18 days from June 15th to July 3rd, ending in an arrest of a parent and a former student. The school board published a statement regarding the sit-in on June 22nd in an attempt to subdue the negative public attention they were receiving from the Oakland community in support of the Sit-In. Below is a letter released July 30th, 2012, by participants of the Lakeview Sit-in in response to the district’s statements.  We also republished this in our most recent newsletter.

Lakeview March

Reply to OUSD from the Lakeview Sit-In and People’s School

By Jack Gerson

The parent-teacher-community sit-in and People’s School for Public Education at Lakeview Elementary, now entering its third week, continues to gather support. By the end of its first week, OUSD administration had already felt enough heat to post a Media Advisory on their web site trying to justify the closure of five neighborhood elementary schools, including Lakeview. OUSD admits that “School closure is a painful step,” but insists “By consolidating into fewer schools, we can invest in better, richer programs for children and families.”

But Tony Smith and the school board are doing the opposite. Rather than creating “better, richer programs,” OUSD is shutting down essential programs, programs that especially serve those most in need: the black and brown communities, students with special needs, single mothers, immigrants, and jobless adults. The school closures are only the latest step in downsizing of Oakland public education launched under the state takeover of OUSD (2003 – 2009) and continued under the Smith administration.

Since Tony Smith became Superintendent three years ago, OUSD has:

1. Dismantled the Adult Education program that two years ago served 25,000 students, a program that single mothers, high school dropouts, and immigrants especially relied on to try to escape from the clutches of poverty.

2. Removed class size limits and increased class size, despite the fact that small class size is strongly linked to student achievement.

3. Made harsh cuts to the early childhood program that working families desperately need and is closely linked to children’s future academic and lifetime success.

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