More than 100 gathered outside Oakland City Hall for a rally and march June 23 to celebrate the sit-in at Lakeview Elementary School. The school is one of five that the Oakland School Board voted to close last fall, in a move that would save the city $2 million per year.
The school’s unofficial reopening was initiated by Lakeview parents, and since has been organized and led by Lakeview parents and teachers. Organizers have also run a People's School for Public Education, with more than 20 elementary-age children enrolled. Classes ran for the past week from 9am to 3pm and include music, art, gardening, social justice, and PE. A daily picket and rally was held to support the sit-in and the Peoples School at 5pm.
Organizers may extend the people’s school for another week.
The children and students involved in the effort led the march yesterday, which left from City Hall around 1pm. Protesters marched to the school, where they held a community barbecue.
At an Oct. 26 Oakland School Board meeting, the board voted to close Lakeview, along with four other elementary schools, at the end of the school year. The Save Oakland Schools campaign has been working to stop these closures. Lakeview officially shut its doors at the end of this school year, but with the ongoing sit-in, organizers hope to keep it open as long as possible.
The city plans to use the school’s building for administrative offices.
Speakers at the rally included parents and teachers of Oakland elementary school teachers.
On the march, demonstrators chanted “Whose schools? Our schools!” and “Education is a right! For our children we will fight!” In reaction to police at the kid-led march, some chanted “their kids! They’re cute! Get those guns up off your suit!”
“The Lakeview sit-in demands a stop to all school closure, or the resignation of Tony Smith, superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District. The Sit-In at Lakeview is held in solidarity with all parents and teachers struggling to demand quality public education across the country,” according to a press release.
The now week-long action is the result of collaboration between Occupy Oakland and its various offshoots and the parents and teachers of Lakeview, as parents and teachers lead the efforts.
Photo via Justin Beck