Early Tuesday morning, on what would have been the 18th day of the Sit-in and 12th day of the People’s School, OUSD police and other Oakland area police forces raided the encampment and school. While participants were allowed to remove their items, the police arrested a parent as well as a former Lakeview student, and subsequently constructed a fence to block entrance to the school.
Lakeview Elementary has been a fixture of this neighborhood for nearly 100 years and supported the development of thousands of Oakland children. The moving trucks that began to arrive this morning to clear out classrooms highlight the question: should Oakland allow this space, so central to the vitality of the community, to be dismantled and made into district offices. The Lakeview building was critical to the maintenance of the People’s School. Although we have been evicted from a school that belongs to the community this does not signify defeat, nor that the group has given up on the fight for quality education. The People’s School will continue next week on Tuesday and Thursday.
In a recent article Oakland Tribune education reporter Katie Murphy wrote that Tony Smith believes “that schools can—and must—help transform entire communities through love and a sense of collective responsibility for children.” While the People’s School and the Lakeview Sit-In directly attempted this by providing free essential services to children, Tony Smith’s actions directly contradict his statement. The closure of schools and displacement of thousands of children to already overcrowded schools does not cultivate a loving supportive environment for children. Instead it negatively impacts the ability of parents to transport their children to school, ruptures the relationships of students from their teachers and one another, and destabilizes essential support systems for entire communities.
Katy Murphy’s article quotes Smith as saying that he hears the “discontent with the current outcomes” and that he realizes “the change isn’t happening fast enough for everybody.” But Smith’s policies point to change in the wrong direction. If the change he wants is cutting programs such as adult education and special education, attacking teachers and school workers, school closures, and privatizing education, there will be nothing left of the public school system when Smith leaves.
The People’s School has been a success and provides a model that others can use for reimagining a more enriching and empowering public education, in stark contrast to the gutted system Tony Smith is propagating. It has become a symbol of resistance and received positive support from the Oakland community.
Beyond the People’s School, the Lakeview Sit-in continues to build a powerful community-labor alliance. We are asking the Alameda Labor Council to authorize a community labor picket line sanctioned to block OUSD from moving administrative offices to Lakeview. In addition, in the continued effort to connect the fight against the criminalization of black and brown youth with the dismantling of the public education system, members of the sit-in today joined the Justice for Raheim Brown march to honor a youth murdered by OUSD cops at a Skyline High Dance. His murderer was OUSD Police Sergeant Bhatt, the same cop who gave the dispersal order during the raid on the Lakeview Sit-in. Finally, to celebrate what we have done thus far and to build for our next steps, we are organizing a convergence focusing on public education next Sunday, July 15th, at 5pm at Splash Pad Park featuring performances by Boots Riley as well as speakers and an open mike speak-out.
For more information contact:
Jack Gerson 510.682.4381
Joel Velasquez 510.473.5635
Nick Palmquist 650.384.5581
The following motion will be brought to tonight’s Alameda Labor Council delegates meeting, and will be introduced by delegates from OEA. Please circulate widely — especially to Alameda Labor Council delegates.
Resolved: that the Alameda Labor Council endorses and honors as a “sanctioned community picket line” the picketing of Lakeview Elementary School, encourages union members and Local unions to participate in the picketing, and will actively support any unionized or non-unionized worker who refuses to deliver to or move out materials from Lakeview, or who refuses to enter the premises to do electrical, plumbing, remodeling or other maintenance or custodial work aimed at converting the school into Administrative offices, or to perform clerical duties at the Lakeview site.
Be It Further Resolved: that the Alameda Labor Council condemns the use of the police to raid the People’s School for Public Education to evict it from the Lakeview Elementary campus and
And be it also resolved: the Alameda Labor Council calls on the OUSD Administration to reopen Lakeview and the four other closed elementary schools at the beginning of the fall semester. Towards this end, we call on the School Board and Administration to enter into negotiations with representatives chosen by the parents and teachers involved in the Lakeview sit-in/People’s School together with representatives of the OEA and other District Unions,
And be it finally resolved: that the Alameda Labor Council demand that the District cease its union-busting tactics and impositions and bargain in good faith with all the District unions to reach negotiated contracts.