Commentary: Back to school, back to fighting the far-right attacks on education
Ken Epstein | Post Newsgroup
In preparation for the Fall 2022 School Board election season, the School Board, led by state officials and their representatives, will close Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) schools, significantly reducing school spending.
Three seats are elected on the seven-member board. None of the incumbents who supported school closures are running for re-election. There are nine candidates, three in each of the three races. At least six of her candidates (two of her in each election) self-identify as progressives who oppose school closures and privatization.
School community uprisings erupted in early 2022 after the school board approved the closure of 16 schools last year and this year. Schools and communities responded with daily strikes and marches, as well as large city-wide marches and rallies. Two of her staff members at Westlake Middle School staged a lengthy hunger strike that drew international attention.
The Oakland City Council, which joined the opposition, passed a resolution opposing the closure, as did the Alameda Labor Council and the Alameda County Board of Education.
Perhaps in response to pressure, the list of school closures has been reduced from 16 to 11. The decision to close some of the schools that were due to close last year has been postponed to this year, with sites organizing to save themselves. At least two schools, Westlake Middle and Prescott, have been permanently removed from the closure list.
Ultimately, three schools closed in June.
Opposition to school closures grew from a new alliance between lay teachers and coast workers, with ILWU Local 10 members forming a new organization, Schools and Labor Against Privatization (SLAP), to close schools. the city’s proposed transfer of public land in the Port of Auckland to Auckland Company A.
In addition, community outrage ended Alameda County Suputo’s political career. L. Karen Monroe, who was elected in November. Monroe, who fronts state officials and the state-funded non-profit Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), said he would directly take over OUSD unless OUSD closed schools and cut budgets demanded by officials. threatened.
At least six progressive candidates have stepped up to oppose school closures and the privatization of schools and public resources during these much-hyped deployment events.
The candidates are optimistic, speaking at various community forums and saying they have a chance in this election to get a school board majority against privatization and closing more schools. They say a shift in the balance of power on the board would result in a dramatic shift in Oakland’s educational leaders’ willingness to accept the dismantling of the decades-old public school system.
While many hope this is a moment of change, many school advocates are voicing their concerns based on the damage done to Oakland schools by the onslaught of educational privatization that is destroying public education across the United States. I have a sober estimate of what it takes to get it back.
Today, the state’s Democratic leadership, which has operated through the FCMAT and county departments of education since at least 2003, is deeply committed to austerity policies, and many say it is unlikely that they will leave simply because there is a new school board. understood among supporters. Many.
Many believe that dismantling the colonial regime that controls and depletes OUSD’s resources will require a determined and united school board working with community leaders with strong citywide grassroots movements and statewide allies. I believe it is.
Since the state took over the district in 2003, more than 30 schools have closed, debt has skyrocketed, and the number of highly paid outside consultants has skyrocketed. School closures have been justified as a path to financial stability, but savings accounts have never been offered, and there are always new budget shortfalls and new lists of schools to close.
Currently, about 30% of Auckland students attend charter schools, many of which are located where school districts have closed.
At SLAP-sponsored meetings with candidates, several candidates stressed the importance of electing a board of directors associated with community movements against closures and privatization.
“The moment is now. School closures are energizing entire communities,” said District 6 candidate Valerie Bachelor. “We need to take this opportunity to get our community more involved, and this election is the way to do that. We need a majority.”
District 4 Candidate Pecoria Mandingo said: (It is) an attempt by a property to sell a district property (and) a privatization in a district contract. Many consultants and many lawyers are abused. “
“She said, ‘I’m trying to get four, if not five, votes’ on the board. It’s about clarifying the moment we’re in. Because this moment may never come again. “
News about school board candidates and where they stand on the issue will follow in the coming weeks.