For over a week now, teachers and students in Oakland have been engaging in a hunger strike. While there always seems to be something to protest about in deep blue parts of the country, particularly in the Bay Area, the cause for which these Californians are acting might not be one that you’re expecting. Are they objecting to mythical systemic racism, police brutality, or economic inequality? No. How about animal rights or some objectionable foreign intervention? Nope.
The hunger strikers in Oakland are protesting the closing of sixteen schools.
According to school board member Benjamin Davis, “We do have a declining enrollment. [And] we do have a structural deficit that is evident.” It is because of that budget deficit that the board is being forced to make such difficult decisions, but the kids and teachers aren’t buying it.
The hunger strikers feel, apparently, that they are entitled to have the schools they want to be kept open, and if we’re to believe that they are truly starving themselves – and not sneaking in some KFC when no one is looking – they’re willing to go to extreme lengths to ensure their voices are heard. Here’s some video including portions of a recent virtual meeting on the matter:
But let’s consider the root causes of the problem, and not surprisingly, leftist ideology is largely to blame.
The problem of “declining enrollment” is one we’re seeing across the country, but particularly in blue states that were the most authoritarian in their approach to COVID, with school closings, and mask/vaccine mandates. When the schools closed, parents saw the poor educations their kids were receiving with their own eyes, and they’ve decided on alternatives such as homeschooling and private schools for their children instead of sending them back to the same failing institutions.
As for the budget deficit, the problem is clearly mismanagement. California has some of the highest taxes in the country, and Oakland spent almost $15,000 per student in 2015, and based on their previous trend are probably spending over $20,000 now. Oakland’s school district doesn’t have a revenue problem, they have a spending problem, and they seem to have finally realized they need to reduce some of their fixed costs by closing schools.
Like we see in so many blue cities and states, elected officials’ favorite method of addressing a problem is to throw money at it. Poor test scores? Increase the budget. Inequality of outcomes? Hire more teachers.
Meanwhile, the true solution is to focus on things that matter such as curriculum and accountability, and not on the names of schools like Oakland’s neighbors in San Francisco had been doing. Make public schools worth going to, and school enrollment will bounce right back. Manage your school’s finances properly – like a successful capitalist would – and you won’t have to close those schools. And while you’re at it, why don’t you go and buy those teachers and kids some cheeseburgers.
This story syndicated with permission from The Blue State Conservative