Oakland teachers hold 1 day walkout, threaten strike over contract talks

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of teachers in Oakland walked out today demanding better wages and smaller classrooms. Teachers have been without a contract for a year and a half.

The plight of teachers in Oakland echoes across most of the country.

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"Classes are too big, we don't have a living wage, so it's hard to pay rent," said Quinn Ranahand as she marched alongside other teachers.

Threatening to strike, some teachers today instead had a one-day walk out with the hope of getting the school district's attention.

Parents with students at Oakland Tech were notified by the principal in advance.

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Students were given a modified schedule with substitute teachers and central office staff trying to fill in.

Wages are almost always the sticking point in most negotiations. Oakland teachers want a 12 percent raise over three years, the district has proposed a 5 percent increase over three years. The gap is wide.

"That's a great problem. We work a lot, we do a lot of unpaid labor outside of the 8 to 3:05 and aren't getting enough for our in-class time," expressed Andrew Burt a teacher at Skyline High School.

Teachers in Oakland make between $46,000 and $83,000 a year with an average salary of $64,000.

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Right now the issues are being discussed through a fact-finding process. The district says it will do what it can to avoid a strike.

"We want to head this off. We want to make sure that our teachers feel appreciated and valued and we want to make sure that they get a contract that they are happy with," said John Sasaki, Communications Director for the Oakland Unified School District.

Teachers marched to the district offices where they were met by building security.

Teachers and a few students instead left post-it notes in hopes of getting some of their messages seen.

In the face of this teacher shortage which has hit the Bay Area particularly hard, San Francisco Unified has created the "Pathway to Teaching" which aims to recruit aspiring teachers.

Applicants can participate in an intensive training program next spring and summer so that these new teachers can lead their own classrooms in the fall. At the end of the school year, those teachers who demonstrate success in the classroom will be recommended for their preliminary teaching credential.

Take a look at the latest stories and videos about the Oakland teacher strike.
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