East Oakland 'solidarity school' welcomes students on Day 2 of teachers strike

The East Oakland Youth Development Center is one of many locations doubling as a solidarity school during the OUSD teacher strike. 

More than a dozen children, ranging from ages 5 to 15, attended the center on Friday. The facility has a full size gym, an art room, a dance room, and kitchen among other things, according to teacher Kehinde Salter.

Salter is a performing arts teacher at Fremont High School in Oakland. She and her sister, Taiwo Kujichagulia-Seitu, a teacher at Madison Park Academy, are volunteering as teachers at the solidary school.

“We’re feeding the children. We’re keeping them safe. We’re educating them… so everything they can do at their regular school, they can do at the solidarity schools too,” Salter said.

Read: Oakland teachers on strike: What you need to know

Students started their day by talking with teachers about the strike. They also made signs in support of teachers.

“It’s beautiful because there’s so many sentiments. Its’ clear they have an understanding of why they’re here and why the teachers are on strike,” Kujichagulia-Seitu said.

Third grader, Sa’Niyah Jones-Hampton, said she enjoyed coming to the EOYDC. She has met new friends and likes supporting teachers during the strike. 

“They’re taking care of other people’s kids, their kid’s education. They need to get paid more money for that,” Jones-Hampton said.

The teachers said they’re set up to sustain the site long term, should the strike continue. 

“The district would have you think that these sites are like rinky-dink things that parents are throwing together at the last minute,” Kujichagulia-Seitu said. “No, we’re utilizing sites that are already built for children.”

More: Day 2: Oakland teachers conclude another day of strikes, no agreement reached

The teachers said their fellow teachers on the picket lines have estimated that roughly 90% of students did not attend school on the first day of the strike. 

“It’s the end of the week so a lot of parents are just staying home with their kids,” Salter said. “We know next week the need is going to be greater because people just can’t afford to stay home with their kids.”