No School Closings! Open Letter from BAMN High School/Middle School Oakland Chapter

Last Wednesday the Oakland School Board voted 5-2 to begin the first phase of a multi-year plan to shut down up to 1/3 of Oakland’s public schools and to close 5 elementary schools in June 2012: Lakeview, Lazear, Santa Fe, Maxwell Park, and Thurgood Marshall. Hundreds of students, parents, teachers, and community supporters filled the meeting in unanimous opposition to the vote, and vowed to keep fighting by any means necessary for their schools and all the schools. This fight is not over!

Below is an open letter written by members of BAMN’s Oakland High School and Middle School chapter on why they are determined to fight for their education.


Open Letter from BAMN High School/Middle School Students:

No School Closings!


School is not an equation and should not be treated as such. It is not a series of rooms where students crowd into each day or a place where money is put in and test scores are churned out. It is my life and the lives of all students.


From the ages of six to eighteen, we live by the schedule of school. We wake by seven to go and we leave anywhere from three to six. We learn so much from this institution: math, science, history, English, and they all prepare us for the future; they enable us to be people we could have never imagined we could be, but school is so much more then even that. School is a refuge from the house. School is where we stay for most of our hours, for most of our lives. When life at home isn’t the best and for a lot, the worst, school becomes our escape. Programs such as after school activities, clubs, and our most beloved electives become what pushes and pulls us along, day to day. They are indescribable and oh so hard to recreate from scratch or expand when so many are being cut and shut down on abstract basis. School is our safe haven for when we don’t feel safe and not to mention our ladder up in this increasingly competitive and as you adults leave it, harder world.


They need to be preserved at all costs. Each and every one because each and every one is the collection of all its students hopes and dreams. You adults in the school district, you adults in the unions, you adults reading this right now need to know you can’t afford to close schools because you’ll only be denying yourself a future and us a life.


The Oakland Unified School District is planning on closing six schools and integrating countless more into, K-8 and even K-12 schools with more in store. This plan will leave no community untouched and will only continue from there with over thirty more closings planned. This will result in large pockets of under serviced and most assuredly more underprivileged communities. This is a plan for forcing us young people of Oakland to tolerate and expect a life of discrimination; this plan is to implement the New Jim Crow! These school closings have a special emphasis on the flatland where there is a greater Black, Latino/a and minority population. It forces us students to travel extreme distances to attend the remaining public schools or languish in the resulting charter zones. The district themselves expect 20% to leave altogether which is their ultimate plan, to dismantle public education and destroy our dream of a better life.


We can win this fight. We are powerful and don’t you for get that. United we are strong and a great force for good in our communities and indeed the world, but divided we risk being marginalized as second class citizens for all our youthful years and into adulthood based solely on our skin color, our background, and our culture. Students walk out! Teachers strike! Parents join us or get out of the way! And powers that be, bye!


Bay Area High School/Middle School Chapter of BAMN, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary

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