Teacher walkouts have occurred all across the United States in recent months. There have been instances of these walkouts in Oklahoma, Denver, Colorado, Arizona, and California. Teachers have already had a walkout in LA and Denver. Closer to home, there are recent rumblings concerning a teacher walkout in the East Bay, specifically Oakland.
The walk outs can be a powerful tool for teachers looking to bring attention to their cause and to show they are serious about their concerns and demands, but they can also be disruptive to students’ learning; for example, the Los Angeles teachers’ walkout interfered with over 500,000 kids learning and classes. However, many teachers’ demands were arguably for the benefit of both the student and the teacher in the long run. In addition to demanding higher pay, as well as more rights and protections for school staff, the teachers of Los Angeles took to the streets demanding smaller classes. As of now, the teachers demands were met and the walkouts have ended, at least in the Los Angeles area.
In a more local region, teachers in Oakland considered the possibility of joining in the same form of protests as their fellow Southern California teachers with a similar walkout strategy, and recently, have voted to authorize a strike. Beginning their “indefinite strike” on the 21st of February. The requests of the Oakland school teachers mirror the demands of teachers in LA and across the country: higher wages, smaller classes, and more guaranteed rights and benefits for teachers and staff, and they teachers state that they will not go back to the bargaining table. Though the walk outs have gotten the attention of the students and parents in their districts, and some national publicity, it remains to be seen whether they will result in the change the teachers want, or if they will be forced to compromise after a long stalemate. According to strike opponents, a big stumbling block is money. Higher pay, smaller classes, more classroom space, more teachers, and more benefits for teachers, like increased healthcare coverage or retirement coverage, all take more money. Districts and the state claim they do not have the budget or the additional money for these demands. It may be a case of meeting in the middle, waiting for state or district to cough up more money or for the teachers to back off on some of their demands. Negotiations are crucial in a walk out or strike, and these cases across the United States are no different.