Community occupancy of Parker Elementary in East Oakland is almost 2 months old

Occupying their school after two Oakland School Board votes to shut it down is teaching students — and adult volunteers — the power of togetherness. – Photo: ParkerCommunitySchool.com

by People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, SF Bay View Oakland Office

The community occupation of Parker Elementary in East Oakland is nearing its third month, and although media support has begun to wane after initial enthusiasm for the takeover, organizers are hanging on for the long haul. now that there has been a second vote by the Oakland Unified School Board to permanently close Parker.

So there are still plenty of ways for community members to show their support: volunteering as well as donations top the list. I spoke to Azlinah Tambu, a mother with children in the Oakland Unified School District who led the community occupation with Rochelle and others. Tap into what is happening.

JR Valrey: What happened at the last school board meeting? What do you think of the revote?

Parker-Elementary-students-Get-your-greedy-hands-off-of-our-public-schools-0722-by-ParkerCommunitySchool.com_, Parker Elementary Community Occupation in East Oakland is almost 2 months old, Culture Currents Local News and Views News and Views
The Parker occupiers sign, “Get your greedy hands off our public schools,” references the maddening excuse to close Parker and other public schools in Oakland — because private businesses want them. Privatization destroys public control of education. East Oakland doesn’t. – Photo: ParkerCommunitySchool.com

Azlinah Tambou: At the last school board meeting, our resolution to reopen Parker was rescheduled (meaning it was put on the agenda to be voted on), but once again four board members voted no and the school will remain “closed”. Things quickly heated up (look Tensions at Oakland school board meeting). We were all very frustrated and hurt by the vote. And some of us have taken a step back to focus on our own mental health.

JR Valrey: What are the next steps for the movement?

Azlinah Tambouu: The next step is to stay in school, continue the programming, and then reconfigure the programming to something that would work for the school year – maybe after-school programming, maybe school to full-time ? We are developing a plan now.

JR Valrey: What do you think of the newly appointed school board member?

Azlinah Tambou: My take on the new person from District 6, I don’t like him. She has no children at OUSD, no real connection to the community. She was sent and endorsed by Libby Schaaf and uses her seat as a board member as a political springboard.

Parker-Elementary-young-students-protest-0722-by-ParkerCommunitySchool.com_, Community occupation of Parker Elementary in East Oakland is almost 2 months old, Culture Currents Local News & Views News & Views
Occupation is a life-changing experience for the children of Parker Elementary, now proudly renamed Parker Community School. For the rest of their lives, they will have the confidence to speak out boldly and demand justice. – Photo: ParkerCommunitySchool.com

JR Valrey: What is the status of your candidacy for the school board seat in November?

Azlinah Tambou: My status as of now is that I am not running. This may change however. As a single mother with two children and a full-time worker, I’m afraid I can’t commit to campaigning.

JR Valrey: What has happened to the Parker occupation lately? What courses are taught?

Azlinah Tambou: We organize daily programming: music, math, reading, political science, history and field trips, as well as free breakfasts and lunches every day.

JR Valrey: How did the community around Parker react to the communal occupation of the school?

Azlinah Tambou: The surrounding community helped, and they support us.

JR Valrey: How has the media reacted to the Parker occupation lately?

Azlinah Tambou: The media only come when something big is happening, like school board meetings.

JR Valrey: How can the community support the occupation?

Azlinah Tambou: The community can support by reposting, spreading the word, donating to GoFundMe, but most importantly signing up for shifts to volunteer on campus.

JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of New World Black Media, heads the Oakland office of SF Bay View. He can be attached to blockreportradio@gmail.com or on Facebook. Visit www.BlackNewWorldMedia.com to know more.

Michael A. Bynum