On September 26, East Bay DSA hosted "Striking Against Austerity," a special event centered around the recent (and possibly upcoming) teacher strikes across the country. DSA members as well as members of a local teachers' union, Oakland Education Association (OEA), filled the Niebyl-Proctor library to hear from a panel of guests and have their questions about organizing, striking, and education politics answered.
Jeremy G. moderated the guest panel, which consisted of Emily Comer, who helped lead the West Virginia teachers' strike earlier this year; Eric Blanc, who has been covering the teacher strikes for Jacobin, and Kampala Taiz-Rancifer, of OEA. Each spoke at length on the necessity of preserving public education, the current threats to public education, and tactics and lessons learned from their experiences. Districts will cry for austerity, while wantonly spending tens of millions of dollars on highly questionable items such as outside consultants (Oakland Unified School District: $1,636 per student on consultants, 3.25 times higher than all other unified districts). This, along with the constant threat of unregulated charter schools that suck resources from public schools while not significantly showing any kind of improved performance over public schools.
Momentum for the defense of public education is mounting, as even while this event was going on, the United Teachers Los Angeles union was preparing for strike action, as they had just voted overwhelmingly (98% voting "yes") to do so. At the same time, local OEA is in the mediation stages of bargaining, meaning that the negotiations reached an impasse and, should these fail, a strike vote and strike action would be imminent.
At the end of the discussion, the guests and attendees gathered around to take a picture, while the guests held up a sign: "Solidarity with UTLA!"