Did you feel it? On Wednesday evening, a little earthquake rattled through the headquarters of the Oakland Unified School District and reverberated through neighboring school districts. In voting (unanimously) to impose its last, best and final offer on its teachers, the school board in Oakland has drawn the attention of many school boards and teachers’ unions up and down the state, because imposition is a very drastic step.
Imposition means no more talking and no more compromises. It means “take it or leave it” and let’s get on with educating children. It also (in Oakland’s case) means no raises for teachers even though an independent fact-finding report noted that Oakland’s teaching salaries are quite low (starting teaching salary in Oakland is $39,000 compared to $50,000 in San Francisco) and suggested an increase. (I haven’t read the report, but apparently the fact-finder also said that OUSD’s financial situation is dire).
In Oakland, bargaining over a new contract has dragged on over two years, and the district only just regained local control after emerging from a state takeover. They have millions of dollars in state loans to repay, and have reached the same “cliff” in state funding that San Francisco and every other school district in the state has. Oakland school board members and Superintendent Tony Smith have both said that they felt imposition was the only choice they had, but their teachers are understandably furious.
What happens now? Well, either Oakland’s teachers will go on an extended strike or they won’t. A one-day strike is scheduled for Thursday, April 29. For good coverage on the situation in Oakland, read Katy Murphy’s blog “The Education Report.” >>>>>