Generally speaking, you should plan for your child NOT to participate in before or after school programming if it is held on the school grounds. OUSD has stated that “[i]f your child does not attend school during a strike, then he/she will not be able to attend the afterschool program on those days.” In solidarity with our teachers, some programs are choosing to provide programming off-site, but others may not be able to do so due to funding or other restrictions. We expect that your afterschool program provider will be sending home information on what will happen at your site on Tuesday – be sure to check in with them directly if you have questions about what will happen.
OUSD is telling parents that if parents honor the picket line by not sending their child to school that the absence would be marked “unexcused.” Any absence, excused or unexcused, means that OUSD will not get the Average Daily Attendance (“ADA”) dollars for those students. State law gives OUSD the discretion to determine what will be considered an “unexcused” absence, so this is simply an attempt to frighten parents into sending their children to school and divide parents and students from teachers. Despite similar threats, Los Angeles Unified School District has not penalized students for supporting teachers by staying out of school – and up to 85% of the students in LA were not in school. If Oakland parents and students are similarly united behind our teachers and keep our children home, OUSD can and likely will excuse those absences as they did in L.A.
OUSD is a sanctuary district that claims to value a strong restorative justice, not punitive, culture. So, we do not expect there to be any impact on student’s immigration or parole status as a result of honoring the picket line. OUSD would be required to report a student’s absence to authorities and OUSD stated in a facebook post that “[t]here is absolutely nothing that the Office of Attendance and Discipline Support Services does in regards to attendance and immigration status. Further, the District will not tolerate any … threat to the immigration status of our families.”
It is unclear if a child’s absence will impact their Oakland Promise scholarship. We encourage parents to follow-up with Oakland Promise directly and demand that it doesn’t. Many students have said they might not feel safe at a school with minimal supervision and no learning happening. OUSD and its partners like Oakland Promise know that punishing students for supporting teachers is contrary to their stated values. We hope that OUSD and its partners will honor student’s right to feel safe.
During the strike, most of the educators who care for and educate our children with special needs will be on the picket line as the paraeducators’ union is likely to call for a solidarity strike with the teachers. The school may not be safe for inadequately supervised children. We suggest you reach out to your child’s teachers, Principal, and the Special Education Office if you have questions.
*UPDATE: AC Transit has cancelled all supplemental service to Montera. The following buses WILL NOT be running: 642, 646, 649, 650, 653, 655, 660, 677.* AC Transit drivers are union members and will honor the picket line by not driving on to school property to pick up or drop off students. AC Transit encourages families to sign up for notifications on their website via this link to receive updates about any changes to service: https://tinyurl.com/actransitinfo
During the strike, teachers will not be in their classrooms, and many of the other caring adults your children knows at their school will support the teachers and not cross the picket lines. OUSD has been advertising on Craigslist for substitutes (OUSD substitutes are part of OEA) and conducting phone interviews, but do not expect to come close to replacing the almost 3,000 educators in OEA. In other cities during strikes, students of all grades were put in large rooms and auditoriums together and were watched over by the few adults in the school. This may not be a safe environment for your child, and will definitely not be an educational environment.
OUSD has a $700M budget and receives more money per student than nearly any other district in California, and received $23 million more this year than last year. OUSD ended last fiscal year with a $30 million surplus, yet now says they have a deficit. What’s for certain is that OUSD spends more on consultants, contractors and administrators, and less on teachers and classrooms compared to other districts. In other words, it is HOW they are spending the money they do have (on misplaced priorities) that is the real problem.
The truth is, OUSD and OEA have been bargaining for two years without any substantive offers coming from the district, and OEA has reached the point where they must strike. The financial pressure created by parents keeping their students home from school will create urgency to resolve the strike, and will keep the strike as short as possible. The state can decide to not withhold some or all of the ADA after a strike is concluded, and of course the teachers are not being paid during a strike which is a savings to the district, so it is uncertain ultimately how much it will impact the district’s finances in the long run. What IS clear, however, is that continuing as we are, with the teacher retention crisis and mismanagement of OUSD finances meaning barebones services to kids, is not sustainable and not in the best interests of our kids.
Teachers are dedicated to their students and are not interested in penalizing them. There will be no classwork during the strike for students to miss, and teachers will work hard after the strike to make sure students get the supports they need. Teachers are, after all, doing this for our kids.