Oakland teachers set strike date for this Thursday

Teachers and students from Oakland High School protest an impasse in contract negotiations on last month. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

Oakland teachers intend to strike Thursday for higher wages, smaller class sizes and more resources for students, the teachers’ union announced Saturday.

Keith Brown, president of the Oakland Education Association teachers’ union, said the pay raise sought by OEA would allow teachers to earn enough to live in Oakland. He also said smaller class sizes would make classes more conducive to learning.

The union seeks a 12 percent pay raise. Oakland Unified School District has offered teachers a 5 percent pay raise. Both raises would be made in stages over a period of years.

One in five Oakland educators leave the district every year, Brown said, attributing the exodus to low pay that makes it difficult for teachers to pay Oakland’s high rents. Teachers also seek lower class sizes, which they say would improve the quality of education because teachers’ attention wouldn’t be divided between too many students.

A spokesman said the district supports a wage increase for employees, but must work within the district’s financial reality. “Everyone knows how expensive it is to live in the Bay Area and Oakland,” said spokesman John Sasaki. “We want to give our teachers as much as we can, but we have to do it within our means. We have a structural deficit and we are making cuts across the board.

“We would love to give our teachers the moon. But we don’t have the moon to give them.”

OUSD spokesman John Sasaki

With regard to class size, with the exceptions of PE and vocational education, OUSD class sizes are lower than the average of comparison districts, according to information published by the district.

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