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Oakland: Board Debates Closing a Score of Public Schools, Amidst Loud Protests

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The public schools of Oakland, California, are being slowly strangled by the growth of charter schools. The school board is discussing the potential closure of some 20 schools. Parents are outraged. Teachers are outraged; they have threatened a hunger strike.

Tina Andres, a teacher in California and a member of the board of the Network for Public Education, wrote the following account of the most recent board meeting, conducted by Zoom.

Mike Hutchinson, Oakland School Board sounded the alarm among the community in regards to a hasty plan to close numerous schools at the end of this school year. The plan was devised in secret and according to Mike, even the board members didn’t know about it until the report was given to them. Mike has been leading the charge to inform and mobilize the community quickly. On Monday night, nearly 2,000 people at one point had joined the Special Session of the Board to discuss these closures.

Recent articles about the school closures:

This comment from Rashida Chase sums up the sentiment I heard as I listened to the meeting for four hours. Community members, teachers and students spoke against these closures for hours and hours. 

“I watched the superintendent gaslight the whole community about the reasoning for this, they brought in some bullshit consulting group from Southern California who gave a HORRIBLE presentation and whose math wasn’t matching, and then…then we realized HELLA (a hell of a lot of) students couldn’t even get on the meeting because the district has not updated zoom on their chrome books.

Y’all!!! These people are really trying to close or merge almost TWENTY schools in the middle of a damn pandemic as if we all haven’t suffered enough trauma!!! One of the school board directors who is behind these closures tried to discourage further commenting by saying she “doesn’t do her best work at night”. Then you’re in the wrong damn job girl! She is a disgrace to this community and so are the other directors who would even think to bring forward such a possibility in this time. I’m still waking up and pissed tf off so I haven’t gathered all my thoughts, but thank God, universe, Spirit, Ancestors, whoever you wanna thank for Mike Hutchinson for being a real one and making sure the community knew about the boards plans that they tried so hard to keep under wraps. We HAVE to support him and candidates like him in the fall to ensure that more of this doesn’t continue. All this on the eve of Black History Month. Aiight, more later but gaaaahhhhh damn Oakland, every day you give me more reason to want to leave.”

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