by People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, SF Bay View Oakland Bureau
The community occupation of Parker Elementary school in East Oakland is nearing its third month, and while media support has begun to wane after the initial excitement over the takeover, organizers are digging their feet in for the long haul now that there has been a second vote by the Oakland Unified School Board to close Parker permanently.
So there are still a lot of ways that community people can show support: Volunteering as well as donating is at the top of the list. I talked to Azlinah Tambu, a mother with children in the Oakland Unified School District who has led the community occupation along with Rochelle and others. Tap into what’s going on.
JR Valrey: What happened at the last school board meeting? How do y’all feel about the revote?
Azlinah Tambu: The last school board meeting had our resolution to reopen Parker agendized (which means it made it to the agenda to be voted on) but once again four board members voted no, and the school will remain “closed.” Things got heated quickly (look up on Google Oakland school board meeting tensions). We were all very frustrated and hurt by the revote. 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 Tambuu: Next steps is to remain at the school, continue programming, and then reconfigure programming for something that would work for the school year – maybe after-school programming, maybe a whole-day school? We are in the works of making a plan now.
JR Valrey: What are your views on the recently appointed school board member?
Azlinah Tambu: My views on the new District 6 person, I don’t like her. She has no kids in OUSD, no real connection to the community. She was sent and endorsed by Libby Schaaf and is using her seat as a board member as a political stepping stone.
JR Valrey: What is the status of you running for the school board seat in November?
Azlinah Tambu: My status as of now is I’m not running. That may change though. As a single mother with two kids and a full time worker, I fear that I cannot make that commitment to campaign.
JR Valrey: What has been happening at the Parker occupation as of lately? What classes are being taught?
Azlinah Tambu: We are running daily programming: music, math, reading, political science, history and field trips, also free breakfast and lunch are provided daily.
JR Valrey: How has the community around Parker responded to the community occupation of the school?
Azlinah Tambu: The surrounding community has helped out, and they are in support of us.
JR Valrey: How has the media responded to the Parker occupation lately?
Azlinah Tambu: Media only comes when something big happens, like school board meetings.
JR Valrey: How can the community support the occupation?
Azlinah Tambu: 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 Black New World Media, heads the SF Bay View’s Oakland Bureau. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Facebook. Visit www.BlackNewWorldMedia.com to read more.