OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Over 20 years ago during the last strike to affect the Oakland Unified School District, KPIX 5 reporter Da Lin was a student at Oakland High School. He wrote down some memories from that experience.
The last prolonged strike in Oakland happened in 1996. I remember it well because I was a sophomore here at Oakland High.
It was very disruptive. The strike lasted for roughly a month. And as students, we lost some valuable time. There’s a saying back then, if you’re a student at an Oakland public school, you are already a few years behind. So we couldn’t afford to lose to anymore time.
Even though we supported our teachers, the strike did hurt our education. I remember in ‘96, when we didn’t have enough substitute teachers, they put in security guards, one school security officer in each classroom to watch over the kids. They also combined classes. So there wasn’t a whole lot of teaching or learning. It was more of babysitting.
At the time, I was worried about my future. I was a 10th grader planning for college and trying to get out of East Oakland. I knew universities focused mainly on the GPA in sophomore and junior years. I thought the strike would hurt my grade and affect my college application.
Also, we had SAT prep classes in school. We couldn’t afford to miss out on those classes. Kids in wealthy neighborhoods could pay for SAT tutors and SAT prep classes outside of school. But in East Oakland, we couldn’t afford that. That long strike in 96 was a stressful time for me and a lot of students.
But it all turned out okay. I graduated two years later from Oakland High in 98. These are some photos from my graduation. I was accepted and attended USC down in LA. So it all worked out well. And now I get to report on my own community.