Starving for a cause: Oakland educators on day 8 of hunger strike to oppose school closures

Tents are set up in front of Westlake Middle School. They are for a school administrator and a teacher who hasn't eaten since last Monday night, when the Oakland Unified School District presented a plan to close or consolidate 16 schools, beginning in June.

They say they won't eat until the school board rejects that plan.

"I'm really tired at the moment," said Maurice Andre-San-Chez teaches choir at Westlake. "My babies are worth it. That's why I'm here. I love these kids," he said.

The two educators are also demanding a meeting with Governor Gavin Newsom and California Superintendent Tony Thurmond.

Moses Omolade is a program manager at Westlake and a former Harlem Globetrotter. He, like San-Chez, has had nothing but water, salt, and vitamins.

"I had two days of nice euphoria. And now the reality of health complications is upon us. Internal organs at least," he said.

Doctors regularly monitor the two hunger strikers but can't force them to eat.

"This is a critical time for them. They have not eaten anything in eight days. Because of their pre-existing conditions, the risk of harm is exacerbated," said Dr. Olivia Park.

"These are my babies. Our babies. They're more than worth it," said Omolade.

SEE ALSO: OUSD to vote on closing campuses despite community objections

Just after noon on Tuesday, many Westlake teachers and students walked out of class and marched downtown.

They say school closures and mergers will harm education, especially in a pandemic.
The district says it faces a $20 million budget deficit over two years, and it is too expensive to maintain so many under-enrolled schools.