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Oakland Principals Ask State Legislators For More Funds Ahead Of Strike

SACRAMENTO (KPIX 5) -- Dozens of principals from the Oakland Unified School District headed to the state capitol on Wednesday to push for more education funding.

The meeting with legislators in Sacramento comes one day before Oakland teachers are set to strike.

The principals carpooled from a coffee shop in Oakland for the drive. Dressed in red and fully caffeinated, the group of principals from Oakland Unified schools prepped for a road trip to the Capitol with a very important lesson plan in mind: educating the state's leaders about what they need and why.

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"Teachers in Oakland and all over the state are grossly under paid," said Bridges Academy principal Anita Iverson-Comelo. "They have conditions that are not conducive to teaching and learning and what kids deserve. We need to do better."

The principals' requests are three fold: they want increased funding of education, forgiveness of the $36 million dollar loan Oakland Unified owes the state from when it fell into receivership and a revision of the state's charter school law.

The principals' first appointment was with the top educator himself, Tony Thurmond, the State Superintendent of Public instruction. At a statewide education summit Wednesday, he addressed educators.

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"Let it start now that every young person, every young person, has access to early education and that we do what we need to do on these ballot measures in 2020, so that we can say that we go from 45th in the nation per pupil spending to what our kids deserve: number one," said Thurmond.

That sentiment received a round of applause, but whether it will be enough has yet to be seen.

It will be a long day for these educators.

After the event with Thurmond, the principals are scheduled to meet with several Oakland lawmakers as well as the Assembly Education Committee chair.

That meeting will last until 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Afterwards, they head home to get ready for dealing with the teacher strike.

On Thursday, Oakland teachers will walk picket lines outside their schools, asking for higher pay, more support staff and smaller classrooms. While principals will be at school to take care of the kids who show up, Iverson-Comelo told KPIX that they still are behind the striking teachers.

"We will be in the schools and the classrooms, because there are families who will not be able to keep their kids home. But in spirit, we will be with our teachers, because we know they need more," said Iverson-Comelo.

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