Tuesday, June 12, 2012


“Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail.  What you gain at one end you lose at the other.  It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail.  It won’t fatten the dog.” ~ Mark Twain

Mark Twain must have seen the future because what he said above is exactly what has been going on in the USA (Hey, how many education Presidents have we had anyway).

At the end of this school year, for example, the District in Oakland, California plans to close five more public elementary schools and ship hundreds of poor students ten miles away to other schools.

Have I mentioned that the School District is not guaranteeing that any transportation  will be provided.  Maybe, the kids can just jack some cars or something.

Oh, and those five public schools they are closing.  Well, the empty buildings are being handed over to private charter schools or converted into District offices.

The blog Occupy Education, which was created by a group of reachers, substitute teachers, parents, community activists, youth workers, after school instructors, in describing itself pretty clearly spells out the situation in the real world, 

With this blog and our print newsletter we confront the continuing destruction of quality public education for the working class and people of color in Oakland and across the United States and thus the elimination of our childrens’ right to learn and grow. Our youth, full of creativity, passion, energy and wisdom, deserve better. We do not fully understand the changes our communities are going through and this ignorance holds us back from transformative change, but it is crucial that we face our ignorance straight on. The price of doing nothing is much greater. 

Oakland is not a city these days where doing nothing is the first option.  

People are going to take the District's plan sitting down.

Well, actually they are.  They will be sitting down, sitting in, and occupying those buildings and as again, Occupy Education puts it, demand:

...a system that serves and is accountable to its community rather than profits from it. This is a call to rise up! This is our call to knowledge! This is our call to you! Together lets fight for what we know and fight to find out what we do not! Read on with open minds. We promise you, this is only the beginning.

The following is from libcom.org

Oakland parents and teachers announce plans to sit-in to stop school closures

Protests against Oakland school closures
As 5 elementary schools are set for closure at the end of this school year, displacing around 900 children to schools 10 miles away with no transport provided, parents and teachers announce plans to sit-in to save their schools.

The five public elementary schools set for closure in Oakland, which serve predominantly black children, will be turned into private charter schools and district administrative offices by the Oakland Unified School District.

The pupils from these five schools have been displaced to schools up to 10 miles away, and there is no guarantee of transport provision.

Oakland has been a hot bed of radical political organising, and the fight for education is part of this. In response to the planned closures, parents and teachers have announced plans to sit-in at Lakeview Elementary, on June 15th, the last day of the school year.

The parents and teachers have released the following statement:

The district has not listened to lawsuits, pleas from parents and teachers, or protests. We know the money exists, but still they insist on closing flatland schools serving predominantly black and brown children. We say no more excuses! We’re keeping the schools open the last way left to us, by sitting-in. But we cannot do this alone. We need your support! Demand the district and the politicians give us full funding for quality education in neighborhood public schools. Join the fight for our kids’ futures!

There are a number of planning meetings scheduled before the sit-in (see above link), and support from anyone in the area is being encouraged.

The sit-in will kick off with a community speakout and BBQ, a solidarity rally, leading to nightly solidarity watches. On Monday 18th June, a free, week-long social justice programme for children will be held at the school. Anyone wanting to get involved or have more information about these activities should email education4the99 [at] gmail.com

The parents and teachers have issued the following demands for the sit-in:

  • Don’t Close the 5 Schools!

  • Keep All Neighborhood Schools Open!

  • Children’s Needs Before Administration’s!

  • Stop Attacks on Teachers and School Workers!

  • Teacher Conditions=Student Conditions.

  • Refuse to Pay the Unjust State Debt!

  • Fully Fund Quality Public Education for All Students!

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