OAKLAND, CA — Filipino-American educators are among the thousands who are involved in the Oakland teachers strike.
Better pay, smaller class sizes, and other issues essential to students — these are the main reasons why thousands of teachers in Oakland are on strike.
Since Thursday, February 21st, teachers remain on the picket lines.
According to union leaders — the strike was forced due to a failure of compromise with the Oakland Unified School District in the past two years.
Oakland’s 3,000 teachers are fighting for a 12 percent retroactive raise, which covers from 2017 to 2020.
Administrators offered a 7 percent raise, which was rejected by union officials because they say their salaries do not keep up with the cost of living in the Bay Area.
“We need more money in education. That’s part of the reason that we are where we are right now. We, as a state, are the fifth largest economy in the world and we fund education here on a per student basis in the bottom twenty percent of the United States so there’s a very strong disconnect there that we need to correct.”
Fil-Am Michael Herrera is a first-grade teacher who says due to large class sizes, his students are not progressing at the same rate as others.
“I have a class of 25 at full capacity and it’s hard because I’m trying to give individual attention to all my students but when I can only give a certain amount of time and I have so much to do you really don’t get the best education and it’s a disservice to them.”
Herrera adds that Oakland unified teachers are among the lowest paid in the Bay Area.
“It’s hard to live here when a third of your pay goes to your rent. And how can we sustain ourselves and be able to teach our students if we can’t live in the city we teach in?”
The teachers are also asking for more counselors to support students as well as more full-time nurses.
The strike is affecting 36,000 students across 86 schools.