Teachers, students participate in 'Occupy' strike

November 2, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Oakland teachers are a big part of the "Occupy Oakland" general strike. Nearly 20 percent of of the teachers to a personal day to join in, which means a lot of substitutes were called in to fill in.

Instead of joining today's strike, Benjie Achtenberg decided to teach his 8th grade humanities class the reasons behind the "Occupy" movement.

"The big idea that I am stressing today is about what a strike is, an example of the First Amendment and how to make your voices heard," Achtenberg said.

More than 300 of the 2,000 teachers in Oakland took a personal day to support the day of mass action. Substitute teachers were brought in to take their place.

"As a pie chart, I am the piece of the pie that's left over for 99 percent of Americans," said teacher Lydia Ropp.

Parents were given a flier explaining why teachers were leaving the classroom. At noon, parents and teachers met at the main library before marching toward City Hall.

Oakland's high school graduation rate falls below the state's average. Many parents say California's budget cuts are making it harder for students to succeed.

"This movement is more than just about people camping out," said parent Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont. "It's really about families who are just struggling to survive. We want to come together with other families and have some space today."

"Teachers put thousands of dollars of our own money into our classroom, and then the fundraising and all the work they have to do," said teacher Sarah Willner.

What was said on Wednesday during the general strike began to sink in.

"It's not really equal that one percent of America gets all the money and the other 99 percent gets barely any," said fourth grader Julian Mayotte.

The personal days for teachers are beginning to add up: The total cost, according to the district, is $60,000, but those personal days are built into their budget.


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