We are local, community-based arts organizations and we care about the young people and families of Oakland.
That’s why we believe in and support Oakland Unified School District teachers. These teachers work relentlessly to provide mentorship and guidance for young people and their families that extends far beyond their daily lessons in reading, writing, math, science, physical education, and art.
Many of our professional Teaching Artists work side by side with Oakland teachers to nurture young people’s capacity to be engaged members of the broader Oakland community as innovative creators, critical thinkers, empathetic collaborators, and effective communicators.
We as a collective stand by our certified teacher colleagues during the Oakland Education Association strike as they call for increases in student supports, smaller class sizes, a livable wage to keep teachers in Oakland, and a mandate to keep our public schools open. In solidarity with these teachers, we’ve committed to cancelling our in-school programming during the strike and will not send Teaching Artists to schools during the school day. This action also comes out of concern for the liability of our Teaching Artists who would be teaching at school sites with a vastly reduced staff of certified teachers on campus.
We urge the Oakland Unified School District to act quickly to respond to teachers’ demands that address critical education issues in our schools.
At the same time, we know that maintaining adequate funding for arts learning has been an ongoing issue for many schools in Oakland. Decades of state and federal high-stakes initiatives have penalized “low-performing” schools that are more an outcome of systematic inequalities than of poor teaching and leadership. A history of local and national racially-biased practices including redlining and racial profiling have exacerbated school segregation and led to an “access gap,” whereby some students have access to quality learning experiences grounded in creative, inquiry-driven projects and others do not. In partnership with schools, Oakland Unified Arts Partners supports the Oakland Unified School District in adhering to CA Education Code Sections 51210(5) and 51220(g) that require all California schools to provide music and arts education for k-12 students. We also work to promote CREATE CA’s Declaration of the Rights of All Students to Equity in Arts Learning.
We believe that quality learning within the Oakland Unified School District depends on enduring relationships between schools and communities and ongoing collaborations between classroom teachers and community educators. It is in this spirit of cooperation that we support the teachers of Oakland as they work to ensure strong and vibrant school communities for Oakland young people.
Organizations who have helped to shape this statement:
Destiny Arts Center
Junior Center of Art & Science
Word for Word / Z Space
Cazadero Music Camp
California Shakespeare Theater
For the current and most comprehensive information on the strike: http://www.oaklandteachersstrike.com/
To plug in as a volunteer supporting the strike: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScJzxvy_yUwVrSLvWS6VyypaFZtj_VOaT32MgdX4dXh3HCfyQ/viewform
Resource page with channels for donations: http://www.oaklandteachersstrike.com/resources/