Oakland teachers begin strike over litany of issues

Oakland, Calif., teachers began a strike Thursday seeking higher wages, smaller class sizes, more counselors and nurses for students, and an end to school closures.

Around 3000 members of the Oakland Education Association went on strike with picket lines at all 86 of the district's schools. 

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OEA President Keith Brown said teachers are striking because “you can’t feed the minds of our students by starving their schools.”

"The educators’ union sees this strike as a fight for a better future for Oakland’s 37,000 students, rather than the traditional give and take over wages and benefits for educators," he said in a statement.

"Key issues on the bargaining table relate to demands for smaller class sizes and the resources students deserve, such as access to counselors, school nurses, librarians and school psychologists. For example, there is currently only one counselor for every 600 students, and ­­­only one nurse for every 1,750 students."

The OEA is demanding a 12 percent wage increase over three years.

Some Oakland teachers organized a one-day strike over wages in December, protesting their pay in relation to the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Oakland Unified School District teachers are among some of the lowest paid in the area, with the average beginning salary estimated around $46,411, according to EdSource.org.

The teacher strike in Oakland this week follows a series of similar movements around the country.

West Virginia public school teachers held three day strike this week that resulted in a bill to use public funding to support charter schools was defeated.

Los Angeles and Denver teachers walked out earlier this year over similar concerns to the Oakland strike.