On Saturday afternoon, Oakland Unified School District employee Timothy Killings stood before a crowd of parents, teachers and community members scattered on the lawn of Markham Elementary School in East Oakland.
“The purpose of this town hall is to bring together the most threatened sites, so that we can put action plans in place,” he said. “Actually, we should have been on the streets like yesterday.”
The group had come together to plan protests against the district’s planned school consolidations.
Sitting in clusters together in the grass, looking like students at recess, attendees debated whether to strike teachers, recall school board members and other solutions, such as lobbying lawmakers in the Sacramento State to send funds to avoid district budget problems. . One idea being floated would even see opponents of school closures teaming up with ILWU workers at the Port of Oakland, who both say they fight privatization — of the port and schools.
When not organizing resistance, Killings serves as a case manager at Westlake Middle School in the Oakland Unified School District. But on his day off on Saturday, he helped organize Oakland residents to push back against school closings, mergers and grade truncations proposed by the district.
The latest version of the district’s plan would close two schools — Parker K-8 and Community Day — this year. Five other schools – Korematsu, Horace Mann, Brookfield, Carl B. Munck and Grass Valley – would be closed at the end of the 2022-2023 school year. Finally, two additional schools – Rise Community Elementary and New Highland Academy – would be merged this year and two others – Hillcrest and La Escuelita – would see the number of classes they teach reduced.