June 19, 2012
In an effort to prevent the closure of elementary schools in the City of Oakland, a group consisting of parents, students and teachers began a sit-in on Friday at Lakeview Elementary school.
Lakeview is one of five elementary schools which the Oakland school board voted last fall to close at the end of the year as part of a downsizing plan. Marshall, Maxwell and Sante Fe are the other schools slated for closure as well as Lazear, which District officials recently announced will become a charter school.
District officials say the closures are necessary due to declines in student enrollments and a $150 million cut in State funding.
After ten months of fighting against the closures and exhausting all options, community members are participating in a civil disobedience sit-in until the District reverses course and allows the schools to remain open. There is a 24-hour watch with protesters taking shifts to help ensure the safety of those staying overnight and others stopping by to drop off food and other needed supplies. Many businesses are displaying signs that state, “We support the Sit-In at Lakeview Elementary.”
With spectacular views, administrators intend to use Lakeview Elementary as an office space following its closure.
In the interim, the occupying group have setup “The People’s School for Public Education,” an education program that runs from 9am to 3pm, Monday through Friday. The program includes sports, art, music, science and gardening classes for children entering grades two through six. Parents are encouraged to enroll their children in the program.
There are also plans to hold daily rallies at 2pm.
Oakland school district police on Monday arrived on scene to warn protesters they are trespassing and directed them to leave. Some families left once police arrived, others moved food and supplies to the park across the street. Once the scare of police action was over, the protesters continued with their plans for the day.
When asked why they feel this act of civil disobedience is important, one parent replied, “Because without education, these kids will have nothing in the future. This is the best school Oakland has – what is the Board thinking?”
For information and updates on the Lakeview Elementary occupation, you can follow @LakeviewSitIn, #LakeviwSitIn on Twitter, or visit saveoaklandschools.org.