Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tony Smith Backs Out!

Tony Smith Backs Out! 

OEA was approached by Region 2 principals several weeks ago about a joint effort to highlight the budget crisis facing Oakland and the state by holding a rally in Sacramento on March 2. A week later, a joint committee was formed with the Superintendent, union leaders, principals, and other district staff to plan these events. At that time I agreed to survey our members to see what level of interest there was in going to Sacramento March 2. The very next week the joint committee decided March 14 would be a better date for a variety of reasons, including the fact that community colleges and others are mobilizing in Sacramento that day to protest cuts to their institutions.
Based on this information, and up against a narrow time line, your OEA Crisis Action Team began organizing for a district-wide mobilization to Sacramento on March 14 as well as local actions on March 2. Many of you have already received several announcements about these events.
On Friday, February 25, district spokesman Troy Flint, in Superintendent Tony Smith’s absence, announced that OUSD would not participate in organizing for a Sacramento rally on March 14 since it wasn’t clear if the initiative to extend taxes would be on the ballot or not, and therefore it wasn’t clear what the purpose of rallying or lobbying should be.

I am frustrated that the district and Superintendent Smith have squandered an opportunity to unite the workers of OUSD around a common cause. Regardless of what happens with the initiative, a number of us on the joint committee have consistently raised the importance of mobilizing large numbers of people to educate the public around the drastic cuts to education and social services, and around the crying need for progressive forms of taxation.

While OEA’s plans for a mass mobilization in Sacramento on March 14 have ended, this can still be an opportunity to rally and build momentum for future actions.  Many of you have already made individual or site plans to rally on March 14 with the community colleges against budget cuts. Some have already planned field trips for that day, and we encourage those plans to continue and be carried out. We will help coordinate a meeting place in Sacramento; however, without district organizational and financial support, we cannot arrange for transportation. Of course, we expect that District will honor personal days taken to participate in the day’s events.

Two other events are scheduled for March (see below), pink slips are expected, and the OEA Executive Board is held an emergency meeting on Monday, February 28th. It is imperative that you visit the OEA website ( frequently for the latest information.

We face a continuing crisis in education at the local, state, and national level. Our most vital resource in responding to the onslaught is an informed organization that can respond with quickness, creativity, and flexibility. 
Betty Olson-Jones
In Solidarity,
President, Oakland Education Association