California Closing schools Oakland

What Happened at Oakland School Board Meeting

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Many of us joined the zoom meeting of the Oakland school board. some stayed to the end, others (such as those of us on the East Coast) left the meeting before it was over. we heard students o and parents pleading with the board not to close their schools.

Here is a good summary of the ultimate decision.

Two Oakland Unified schools will close this year and five next year under a modified plan approved by the OUSD board of directors during an emotional eight-hour meeting that began Tuesday night and ran into Wednesday morning. 

The vote, which happened shortly before 1 a.m., followed two weeks of protestsmarches, a hunger strike, and other demonstrations against school closures, which were abruptly announced at the end of January

During four hours of public comment, dozens of community members and students spoke out against closures. Many requested more evidence from the administration that closing schools will save money. Opponents also noted that the closures will disproportionately impact Black and brown students, and they questioned why OUSD did not give the community more time to deliberate. 

Board member Mike Hutchinson was a hero, as was Board member VanCedric Williams, who voted against the closings.

At the very beginning of the board meeting, District 5 Director Hutchinson made a motion to postpone a vote on school closures until January 2023, so that the public would have a chance to vote in the November school board election and reveal whether or not there is support for the directors who are in favor of closures and mergers. At that time, directors Eng, Yee, and Gonzales will be up for re-election. Williams, Pal, and Gallegos supported Hutchinson’s request, but the rest of the board voted it down. Throughout the rest of the meeting, Williams and Hutchinson voted the same way—against any proposal or amendment that would have implemented closures. At times, Pal and Gallegos stayed silent to highlight the fact that their votes—and voices—are essentially meaningless when it comes to board decisions.

“All I can figure is that none of you have ever experienced the trauma of having your site threatened with closure. None of you have had to comfort crying families who are ripped away from their home,” said Hutchinson, who has campaigned against school closures for years. “How are you going to accommodate our families who are living under multiple stresses? When you tell them they have to go to a school a mile and a half away from where their current school is?”

Again, the students, families, and communities lost.

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