OEA’s green-and-yellow logo of a book.

Statement of OEA President Keith Brown on OUSD Statements Re: Budget Cuts

On Friday, OUSD Superintendent Johnson-Trammell sent an email to teachers, parents and staff that is nothing short of media spin – attempting to break the unity that teachers, families and students built during our historic 7-day strike and weaken our resolve going forward.  Rather than accept responsibility for the district budget malfeasance that led to $21 million in budget cuts last week that will most impact students in our highest-needs schools and classified SEIU workers, the Superintendent and the school board are attempting to blame these cuts on Oakland educators. This is unacceptable.
The truth is that Oakland educators’ demands for smaller class sizes, living wages for educators, and more supports for our students do not require the cuts that OUSD has chosen to make. District staff and the school board chose to target these areas for cuts after years of their own foot-dragging to align OUSD’s budget with County averages for administrator overhead and outside consultant agreements. Further:
  • OUSD has received $21 million in new revenue since the 2016/17 school year.
  • OUSD receives 25% more revenue per student than the average unified school district in the state.
  • OUSD continues to budget increased spending on consultants of $19.6 million over last year.
  • OUSD continues to budget increased spending on books and supplies of $28 million over last year.
OUSD’s budget situation improved in December not because of an unexpected windfall of new money, but because the Oakland educators, parents and students have pressured them to stop playing budget games and get their priorities straight.
Oakland educators struck for 7 days for the schools our students deserve, and made historic progress on class sizes and caseloads – but our kids still need better. We found a pathway to a $50,000 starting teacher salary, but our teachers will need more to keep living in Oakland.  We won a temporary pause on school closures, which gives us more time to fight the district’s racist plan to close up to 24 schools in Black and Latinx neighborhoods. NO cuts to student programs or union positions are necessary to fund our new agreement. What’s required is for Superintendent Johnson-Trammell and the OUSD board to stop their foot-dragging and media spin, and get real about a budget that truly prioritizes Oakland students. OEA members will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with students, SEIU members, parents and the community until ALL of our demands are met. Oakland united will never be defeated, and Oakland teachers aren’t even close to being done fighting.