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Oakland Students Stage 'Sick Out' To Show Support For Teachers

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- Students in Oakland organized a "sick out" Friday morning to show support their teachers as they inch closer to a strike.

A couple of hundred students from different high schools across Oakland skipped class to gather in front of Oakland Tech High School for a rally. They marched down on Broadway to the district office.

"They do more than [what] they should be doing, and they get paid less. So I don't think that's fair at all," said Oakland High student, Shiham, who declined to give her last name.

She worries a teacher strike would affect her and thousands of students long term.

"If they go on a real strike, we're not going to have classes, we're not going to learn," said Shiham.

They want the district leaders to give the teachers what they want, a 12 percent pay raise over the next three years and smaller class sizes.

"It definitely affects us, too, like really big class sizes and a lot of teachers have to ask stuff from parents when they should be getting supported by the district and getting compensated for what they do. Because being a teacher is really hard work," said Caroline Pers, a sophomore at Oakland Tech.

The students believe the sick out will get the district's attention since it'll cost the district a lot of money. The district gets paid by the number of students who show up each day.

"Students have a voice and when it's in a big mass like this, we have a huge impact on something," said Avelina Rivezzo-Weber, a student at Skyline High School.

Another student Belize Gonden-Cruz at Oakland Tech said, "even though we have sports rivals, it's beautiful to see us all unite today."

District leaders said they're facing a huge budget deficit and can't give the teachers what they don't have.

"We are right now a district that's making cuts. Regardless of any new contracts for anybody, we're making cuts already. Do we have the money to give them everything, the moon? No, we don't. We would love to give them the moon, but we don't have that money," said OUSD spokesman John Sasaki.

Both OUSD and the teachers union are waiting for the release of a fact finding report on February 15th before deciding their next move. The teachers have already voted to authorized a strike. They could go on strike as early as Monday, February 18th.

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