Some Oakland parents don't want to cross picket lines as teachers' strike looms

A possible teachers' strike in Oakland is set for Thursday. All schools would remain open, but parent organizations are working on finding alternative places where students can go, so they wouldn't have to cross picket lines. 

At the International Community Elementary School on International Boulevard on Tuesday, teachers and students were all in their regular classrooms. You could call it the calm before the strike. 

In the event of a strike, the school's principal expects less than a third of the 300 students to come to class.

Central Office employees would be in place instead of regular teachers with not much education anticipated.

"Packet work and busy work," said principal Eleanor Alderman.

Alderman said her heart is with the teachers. She taught in Oakland for about a dozen years and once walked a picket line herself. Now as an administrator she would be obligated to cross.

"We are going to do what we need to for both sides. I will bring coffee and donuts and support my teachers in the small ways I can in the days of the strike. And I plan to support our students and families who need to be here," said Alderman. 

Some parents said they know exactly what they plan to do if a strike happens Thursday.

"I plan to support teachers in the front of the school where I will be on the picket line. My son will be on the picket line with me to support his teacher and all of the teachers," said Judith Mendez the mother of a fifth grader.

Parent organizations throughout the district are backing teachers, helping line up safe places parents can bring their children during the strike.

"A lot of kids depend on nutrition from the schools, and a lot of community organizers and parents are coming together to make those resources available to families. We have solidarity schools being put together," said Kim Davis of Parents United for Public Schools.

Teachers are seeking 12 percent increases over three years plus smaller class sizes. The district is offering five percent. 

Alderman is one of 30 principals planning to meet with state officials including California Superintendent Tony Thurmond in Sacramento  Wednesday, asking for more money for education and a moratorium on charter schools in Oakland.

"Our teachers are asking for our help. We are trying to work with all sides to get them back at the table to figure out out what it is going to take to prevent a strike," said Thurmond.