Parents, students make another plea not to close Oakland schools ahead of strike

Parents, students and community members made another plea Wednesday night to the Oakland Unified school board to reconsider the plan to close, merge, and shrink 11 schools in the district over the next two years.

Their comments were passionate, but the planned closures remain firmly in place. Still, teachers are committed to striking Friday in protest.

One 5th grade teacher, who also has a child in the school district, said one reason she’s striking is because the school closures will eliminate valuable student programs.

"I'm going to ask our families to respect those picket lines at school sites," said Megan Bumpus. "We have parents from East Oakland speaking truth about the physical and emotional dangers of closing Parker Elementary. This board has voted to close our only second chance program for students who have been expelled. That's insane."

According to school data, however, Parker Elementary has lost more than 100 students in the last five years. In 2017, the school had 370 students and this year, that number dropped to 257. 

Friday's one-day teacher’s strike was supported by 75 percent of the Oakland Education Association voting members. 

Picket lines will form at school campuses starting at 6:30 a.m. Friday, followed by a rally at the Lake Merritt amphitheater at 11 a.m. 

School buildings will be open during the strike but the district is asking families to keep children at home because there are likely not going to be enough teachers to cover the high number of expected teacher absences.