Teachers union, OUSD still at odds over distance learning plan with fall semester one week away

The Oakland NAACP strongly condemned a teacher protest, that would have stopped by the home of Superintendent Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammel. Organizers changed the route after the NAACP openly opposed a demonstration at the superintendent's home.

George Holland Sr., president of the Oakland NAACP said, “If you are going to go to someone’s home it’s very threatening. Especially if they have children.”

Holland called this sort of action open aggression toward a black CEO. 

”It’s so dangerous because a home is supposed to be sacred,” said Holland. “When you come to my home and I feel you invade my privacy, I will do whatever I can to prevent you from doing that. And the NAACP is against that kind of activity because we know what the consequences might be. We can’t predict who will be in that crowd and what they may do.”

“We were insulted that they would try to frame us as racist,” said Mike Hutchinson, one of the organizers of the demonstration. Hutchinson is the co-founder of “OPEN," which stands for Oakland’s Public Education Network. He is also running for the Oakland School Board. 

Hutchinson said Monday’s demonstration was part of a National Day of Resistance – calling for the safe and equitable reopening of schools. He said they never target Johnson-Trammel because of her race, but because of a failure of leadership. He also noted organizers of the protest included black-led organizations. 

“If anyone had any concerns they should have reached out to us and we could have had a conversation, “ he said. “We have withheld targeting Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammel because she is an African American woman from Oakland. But the time is long overdue. She is in charge of our school district and she has failed to prepare us for this school year.”

Some of the demands on the national day of resistance include full PPE and testing in place at schools, accessible online learning, and federal dollars to help get through the crisis.

Oakland schools are just one week away from the first day of instruction. The teacher’s union and the school district still have not agreed on a reopening plan for distance learning. 

The Oakland Education Association and the Oakland Unified School District are at odds over several crucial details, including hours of live instruction and access to technology.

“Our families, students, and community deserve to have some direction and to know how the school year will begin,” said Keith Brown, president of the OEA. 

When asked if there were plans to strike if they don’t reach a deal, Brown said, “If we don’t have an agreement by August 10th, Monday, we are prepared to move forward and teach with distant learning."

Brown said educators want to start the school year strong and make families feel welcome despite the challenges. 

District officials met with labor partners over the weekend and on Monday. Spokesman John Sasaki said they hope to have an agreement soon.