Soapbox

Another View: Teachers aren’t to blame for Oakland protests

Protesters march from the Port of Oakland to Oakland City Hall on May Day, demanding more rights for workers and immigrants and an end to police brutality.
Protesters march from the Port of Oakland to Oakland City Hall on May Day, demanding more rights for workers and immigrants and an end to police brutality. Bay Area News Group

Bill Whalen of the Hoover Institution recounts riots in our cities, then blames Democrats and public school teachers for the problems (“Officials can no longer ignore Oakland riots,” Viewpoints, May 8).

We, like Whalen, want liberation from poverty. How to get there is where we disagree.

Public schools, teachers and their union lobbying efforts at the state Capitol are unable to address what really ails low-income households. There are too few jobs with livable wages in California. Nearly 1.3 million adults are officially unemployed, while California’s poverty rate is tops in the nation.

At the same time, the Golden State also leads the United States in the number of billionaires – 131, up 23 last year, Forbes reports. We have an oligarchy amid broad-based poverty and inequality. Is this the fault of public education?

Deindustrialization of Oakland, like that of Baltimore, creates a group of citizens who have no place in the mainstream. Police and prisons are their bitter fate in our new Gilded Age.

Why are public schools, teachers unions and Democrats to blame for that?

Police are under the spotlight in Oakland, like other areas that lack resources. Yet police are the enforcement arm of a system that generates prosperity for a few and misery for many. We should hold them accountable when they maim and murder innocent people.

Instead of dealing with the root causes of violence in Oakland, Baltimore and other deindustrialized cities, Whalen uses the socioeconomic crisis to promote one of his favorite subjects – blaming public school teachers and their unions.

He distracts us from the real task at hand. We need to openly address growing poverty, inequality and an oligarchy.

Duane Campbell is professor emeritus of bilingual multicultural education at California State University, Sacramento, and a union activist. Seth Sandronsky is a Sacramento journalist and member of the freelancers unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild.

  Comments