by OEA's Secretary and Communication Chair, Steve Neat.
The timing was perfect. Just as most of my colleagues and I were working on our own unpaid time (yet again) to get report cards done, the Reduction In Force notices (RIFs) began arriving at the homes of teachers by certified mail over the weekend. 538 OEA Members have been given layoff notices. At some sites every single teacher has received a layoff notice. At my site, Kaiser School, 4 out of 11 teachers has received one. These are indeed desperate times, but this is not a natural disaster, it is man-made. It results partly from poor governance and poor funding decisions at the state level. But it also results from poor decisions at the district level. These decisions can be reversed. The lay-off notices can be rescinded before May 15. We need every teacher, every parent, and every student in OUSD at Oakland High School at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15. Take the day off work if you must, as is your right under state law (see below).OUSD needs to understand that they can't balance cuts on the backs of students and teachers. More importantly, the teachers and Education Support Professionals (ESPs) who have received layoff notices need to know that they have our support.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. It’s time for OUSD to put students first. First of all, no employee in this district should make more than the top teacher salary while 538 teachers and Education Support Professionals (ESPs) receive layoff notices. How can we justify downtown administrators—many of whom never see a child throughout a work day—making six figures while 538 teachers and ESPs get laid off? I’m not saying downtown administrators don’t do anything useful. But is what they do more important than what teachers do? No.
Second of all, no outside contractor not providing essential services (school lunches, etc.) should have their contract continued next school year until every single lay-off notice is rescinded. Is it useful to see our district test data laid out for us on color print-outs thanks to Edusoft? Maybe. Is it more useful than teachers in the classroom? No. Is it useful to have Si Swun Math available as a supplementary program at many sites on top of the regular state math curriculum? Maybe. Is it more useful than teachers in the classroom? No.
Some District officials, some in the media, and some principals may try and distract us by bringing up seniority, small schools, and a yet-to-be-approved 2% raise like a magician throwing smoke bombs on the stage. Or perhaps they will put their arm around us, nodding somberly, and shedding crocodile tears while they cry poverty. We cannot fall for the okeydoke. We must remain focused on the fact that if OUSD was serious about continuing to boost student achievement and putting students first, they would enact measures like those outlined above to keep teachers in classrooms and keep class sizes down.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that,“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, butthe silence of our friends.”Friends, families, colleagues, students, Oakland, do not be silent. Stand with us.We need YOU there on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Oakland High. And it cannot stop there. The OEA is strike-legal. At the next Rep Council meeting we will be voting on whether or not to strike. Parents have power too. I am not advocating anything. But when we’re talking about laying off 538 teachers and ESPs and cramming even more students into every already overcrowded classroom, while at the same time millions of dollars continue to go to outside contractors and six-figure administrator salaries, there is NO ACTION that should be off the table.
State Law on Missing Work for School Activities: The Family-School Partnership Act is a California law that allows parents, grandparents, and guardians to take time off from work to participate in their children's school or child care activities. The law (Labor CodeSection 230.8) first took effect in 1995. Its provisions were expanded in 1997 to addlicensedchild day care facilities to the kindergarten-through-grade-twelve levels included in the original legislation.