The teachers of the Oakland Education Association just took a momentous vote to authorize a strike if OUSD does not meet their demands, and with 84% of all Oakland teachers voting, 95% voted to authorize a strike. That does not mean that they will be on strike immediately, but it does mean that they could announce a strike any time after February 15th. We know from seeing what happened in Los Angeles that the key to a successful strike is for teachers and OUSD families to stay united. Here is a comprehensive list of things that parents and guardians can do to support our teachers now and during a strike.
Phase 1: How can we support our teachers right now?
Get Visible! Show your support for teachers
- Sport one of these 8 1/2 x 11 signs in their car, home, business: We Stand with Teachers signs
- While every parent will have to make their own decision about what they will do, and this will not be an easy decision for many parents, the single most supportive thing we can do as parents is keep our kids home in the event of a strike (more on this, and alternative childcare ideas below). One thing you can do is to use a supportive frame on their Facebook page as a signal to OUSD that you will keep your child home in the event of a strike in English or Spanish. You can then save the picture and upload it as your twitter and/or instagram profile pic!
- A Sequoia parent is selling awesome t-shirts and hoodies in support of teachers, with the proceeds going to the strike assistance fund for teachers who ARE NOT BEING PAID during a strike, to give them some support if needed: www.hellaheartteachers.com
Get Talking! Spread the word with other parents and neighbors
- Host a house party: One great way to spread the word is to host a house party for others to learn more. This could include neighbors, particularly if you/they live near a school. The host would be responsible to find about 10 attendees, provide light snacks and speak from a parent’s perspective. We have resources to help on that and may be able to find a teacher to come speak, depending on availability. Anyone interested in hosting/co-hosting or attending a house party can fill out this form put together by the East Bay DSA: House Party Interest Form
- Talk to parents at your school! The strike will be most effective (and shortest) if 100% engaged parents do not cross the picket line in the event of a strike by keeping their children out of school. Don’t assume other parents know, be SURE they know! Teachers have put together answers to some frequently asked questions for parents here: Teachers Answer Parent Questions. (More information on how parents can address childcare during the strike below.)
- Share information over school communication lines: many schools have yahoo groups or other communication platforms – use those to connect with parents and share important information supporting our teachers.
- Get others involved – the education of children is something everyone cares about. Talk to your neighbors, retired folks and anyone else who you think might be interested in learning more about what teachers are asking for and how they can help.
- Get Connected! Parents United will be updating our website and posting on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure to follow/like us for more info. You should also join the Facebook Group Oakland Parents Supporting Teachers to share information and ideas with other teacher-supporting parents, and invite others you know to also Stand with Oakland Teachers. This was a powerful organizing tool in the recent (and very successful) strike in Los Angeles! To get updates directly from OEA, send an email to StandWithOaklandTeachers@gmail.com and follow them on Facebook.
Get Political! Let elected officials know you stand with our teachers
- Put pressure on the school board to settle a fair contract with our teachers. The board needs to know that parents will stand with teachers in the event of a strike, and that they will NOT send their kids to school. Every parent will need to make the best decision for their family, and there is more information on this below, but no kids means no money, and the District will take seriously that loss of funding. Parents should send this message directly to the board members: in the event of a strike, my child will not attend school! Sample script and contact info here: Call the Board – I will not cross the Picket Line.
Get Generous! Donate to help our students and teachers in the event of a strike
- “Bread for Ed” is a fundraising effort set up by the Democratic Socialists of America – East Bay to raise money to cover the costs of providing meals to those students who rely on school lunches for nutrition (and also will feed teachers on the picket line, in conjunction with other programs). Please donate if you can and share widely on Facebook, witter and via email. The link to donate is here.
- Teacher fund: You can also donate to a Teacher assistance fund to help already underpaid teachers cope with the financial hardship created by a strike – cuz they don’t get paid!! The link to donate is here and share widely!
Phase 2: How do parents get “Strike Ready”?
Set up or join a school site Strike Organizing squad
- Some school sites will already have started planning, and others will need a parent to take the lead. Check in with a teacher at your child’s school, if your school has had a meeting with teachers about the contract, they may already have a list of interested parents. If not, talk with other parents you know, set up a time to meet and invite other parents using your school’s communication platform and/or on Facebook
- The important thing here is to share the load. Teachers will be busy teaching, preparing for a strike and ultimately on the picket line, so it is up to parents to organize. Form committees to cover tasks such as solidarity schools, food distribution, picket line staffing and teacher appreciations. Select one person to act as the Parent Strike Team Leader, to coordinate with the Teacher leader and the Union.
- Get started now! The strike could come anytime after February 15th, so the time is now!
Organize a “Solidarity School” or child-care co-op
- It is critical that parents keep their kids out of school during the entirety of the strike, which we hope will mean a short-as-is-possible strike! We understand that this will be very difficult for many families, and every family will need to do what is best for them. We know that some people have flexible work schedules, family to help out and the ability to work from home, and if that is you, you should start thinking about what you will do with your own children. Definitely plan to have your child spend some time on the picket line with you – it means a lot to teachers and will help your children contextualize what is happening.
- Not everyone will be able to have their kids with them and will need a safe place for their children while they work. As a community, we can help by organizing “Solidarity Schools” – parent organized, parent run – at local churches, rec centers or libraries, or by setting up shared childcare in our homes (i.e. – I take 5 kids in my home on Monday and Tuesday, you do on Wednesday and another parent the rest of the week).
- The teachers union is working with the Oakland Public Libraries and Rec Centers to ensure that those spaces are open and available, and they will provide more information as they have it. They are also talking to churches across the city, and again, that information will be shared with Strike teams. In Los Angeles, museums, zoos and other child friendly locales organized special events during the strike – and we will keep you posted if that happens here in Oakland.
- If you have a connection with a church or business that might be able to help, reach out to them directly.
- OEA or individual teachers may be able to provide some curriculum, but just as with breaks during the year, you can always supplement with special projects, online education sites and good old fashioned times tables (or whatever is age appropriate!)
Help with food procurement and distribution
- DSA East Bay is raising funds to buy and centrally or regionally distribute food for students who depend on school meals for nutrition through their “Bread for Ed” fundraiser
- Parents can help connect their site to the distribution by volunteering to be the school site coordinator – connect with your Strike Team leaders to sign up
- Beyond that, if you have a connection with a food producer or distributor, or grocery store or restaurant that might be willing to make donations to your site, work with your Strike squad leaders to coordinate.
Create a Picket-Line schedule for parents
- It’s not just teachers on the picket line, parents and students should join as well. Having parents and students on the picket line will show the district that we are all united behind our teachers’ demands, and will help keep our teachers’ spirits up!
- Create a picket line schedule to ensure that there are a significant group of parents, students and supporters on the line at all times
- If you can, it is also nice to bring snacks or water/coffee/tea for teachers who will be on the line most of the day!
Phase 3: What happens during a strike?
Keep your child OUT OF SCHOOL for the entire duration of the strike! This is the single most important thing you can do – UNBREAKABLE solidarity between teachers and OUSD families is the single most important element for this strike to be successful. In addition, the loss of revenue it causes will be an important incentive to the District to come back to the table with a fair contract offer.
Join teachers on the picket line, and bring snacks! It is important to support teachers on the picket line, and teachers gotta eat!
Participate in rallies that OEA organizes, because there is strength in numbers! OEA and Parents United will keep you posted on whatever events are planned leading up to and during a strike.
If you live near a school offer your home for teachers to use the bathroom, refill water bottles, charge phones, etc
Take pictures and post on social media with the hashtags #Unite4OaklandKids and #OEA and be sure to add your school site!
No one wants a strike, the teachers (who will be giving up their pay) least of all, but if we stand in solidarity with our teachers as they fight for fair pay and better learning conditions for kids, we will build the Schools our Oakland Students Deserve!