Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church Pastor Says He Will House Up to 250 Kids a Day, Calls on Other Oakland Churches to Help As Well

OAKLAND – As a possible Oakland Unified School District strike looms, Oakland Education Association leaders will hold a news conference Tuesday afternoon at a church where the pastor has volunteered to house up to 250 students each day a work stoppage occurs so that working parents have a safe option for their children.

Calling on all Oakland churches to open their doors to school sites in Oakland Unified School District, Pastor Anthony Jenkins of the Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church will outline his plans to help Oakland families support educators by not crossing picket lines. Media can watch him make his public pledge and call to action in this video of Jenkins speaking during the Feb. 5 OEA union rally in Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Housing up to 250 students at this one church means some parents or grandparents won’t lose pay by having to stay home from work to watch their children during a strike, Jenkins says. “Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in Oakland has been supporting our teachers and we will continue to do so.”

Pastor Jenkins is also letting OEA members and strike captains use the church’s Harris Fellowship Hall for free, and calling for volunteers to help provide for students if a strike occurs. His church will provide free lunches and snacks to students with the help of funds raised by the Bread For Ed campaign, which OEA co-sponsors and to date has raised more than $31,000 to feed students in a district where an overwhelming number of children are low-income and depend on free meals during school. The OEA Membership Assistance Fund raised $15,000 through a Go Fund Me drive.

In their contract showdown, Oakland educators are fighting for smaller class sizes, more student resources such as more counselors and school nurses, and living wages as low pay continues to fuel a teacher retention crisis in the district. The OEA announced Feb. 4 that 95 percent of educators who took part in a strike authorization vote cast ballots in favor of allowing their union leaders to call a strike, if necessary, and strike preparations are continuing this week.

Oakland educators can legally strike after a neutral fact-finder appointed by the state to help resolve the negotiations impasse issues his non-binding report. That report is due out this Friday, Feb. 15. The California Teachers Association is also calling for a statewide #RedForEd day of action at public schools on Friday to show support for Oakland educators in their fight for the quality schools all students deserve – see more information here. More background about the OEA showdown is at www.oaklandea.org

—WHAT: News conference with leaders and members of the Oakland Education Association to thank the pastor of an Oakland church who vows to house up to 250 students during a possible strike by educators in the Oakland Unified School District. Pastor Anthony Jenkins is also calling on Oakland’s faith community to open up other churches to help house students during a strike as well.

—SPEAKERS: Pastor Anthony Jenkins of the Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church in Oakland, other Oakland church pastors, and Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown.

—WHEN and WHERE: The news conference is at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, in the Harris Fellowship Hall at the Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church, 1188 12th Street, Oakland, 94607.

The Oakland Education Association represents 3,000 OUSD educators, including teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, therapists, substitutes, and early childhood and adult teachers. OEA is affiliated with the 325,000-member California Teachers Association and the 3 million-member National Education Association.