OUSD, teachers break deadlock on 'Common Good' proposals but strike still not over

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Sunday, May 14, 2023
OUSD, teachers break deadlock on 'Common Good' proposals
The Oakland Education Association reached an agreement with OUSD on "Common Good" proposals Saturday.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- After two weeks of negotiations, there is a major breakthrough in the Oakland teachers' strike.

Late Saturday evening, the Oakland Education Association (OEA), the union representing teachers, and the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) reached an agreement on common good proposals.

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"We just came to an agreement on our common good demands," said Kampala Taiz-Rancifer, the vice president of the OEA, who spoke to ABC7 News minutes after the agreement was signed.

Common good demands are issues that go beyond classroom learning and had been a huge obstacle at the bargaining table. Key to this agreement are topics related to shared governance and community schools.

"We have an agreement around supports for unhoused students, our Black thriving community schools and school closures," says Taiz-Rancifer.

"We are really excited about community schools be modeled the best they can be here in Oakland," says Wally Scott, an Oakland teacher, who is on OEA's common good negotiating team.

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Both sides had a hard go at reaching common ground on common good proposals. The teachers union wanted more community input on the decision-making process.

The district issued a statement on Wednesday saying, "Fully implementing OEA's initial common good proposal would cost the District more than $1 billion."

"It certainly didn't cost a billion dollars. Our proposals were never going to (cost) that much. I have absolutely no idea how the district came up with those numbers," says Taiz-Rancifer. "We have five FTEs ('full time equivalent' educators), and that's the entire cost of the package."

The union says what made the common proposals so tough to negotiate was in part determining what shared governance would look like.

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"I think (the school district has) a long-standing practice of directing the district without a whole lot of input. And I think this took a little bit of time for them to hear from us, help them understand exactly what it was we were hoping to do, and to show some models from around the state where it is being done really effectively," says Taiz-Rancifer.

OUSD did not return requests for comment, but issued a brief statement welcoming the agreement.

Despite this agreement, there is still work to be done to get a signed deal to end the strike. The union says what remains are the details over three key areas: teacher salaries, special education programs and class size.

"We are really just hoping that OUSD is coming back. They know the areas. They know the sticking points. And we need to get this done today for our students to get back in the classrooms," says Taiz-Rancifer.

Full OUSD statement below:

Dear Oakland Unified Community,

We are pleased to announce that OUSD and the Oakland Education Association (OEA) have reached four agreements on Common Good issues: (1) Housing and Transportation, (2) Community Schools Grant, (3) Black Thriving Community Schools, and (4) School Closures. These agreements are the culmination of discussions that recently occurred outside of the teachers' contract bargaining process. For more information, you can view each agreement below:

OUSD appreciates the collaborative nature of the discussions and the effort of the OEA members involved to reach these agreements.

In community,