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Pro-Palestinian teach-in at Oakland schools prompts concern from parent

Organizers talk about goals for pro-Palestinian teach-in at Oakland schools
Organizers talk about goals for pro-Palestinian teach-in at Oakland schools 03:11

People in Oakland had strong feelings Wednesday as schools became a battleground over the war between Israel and Hamas as some teachers participated in a "Teach-In."

OEA for Palestine called on educators to present lessons on the conflict in Gaza from a Palestinian point-of-view to students as young as 4-years-old.

The district came out against it calling the material "harmful and divisive" and some parents worry it will only fuel antisemitism.

OUSD parent David Furfero almost kept his daughter home from elementary school after he heard about the teach-in.

"We were worried that as one of the few Jewish kids in the school, that she would feel stigmatized about being Jewish or Israeli," said Furfero.

His daughter is in elementary school. She's an artist and she's fluent in Hebrew having learned the language from her mother, who is Israeli.

As their family is preparing to celebrate the start of Hannukah Thursday, Furfero said it's overshadowed by the teach-in.

"Right now, frankly, none of us in the community feel like anyone has got our backs. We're all looking over our shoulders, and we don't know who to trust," said Fufero. He said one of the things that upset him the most was a webinar that was designed to be used as part of the teach-in curriculum.

"It means being in full solidarity with my Palestinian siblings as they struggle for the right of return," said one of the speakers on the Zoom.

Another OUSD parent, Nate Landry, organized the Zoom at request of "OEA for Palestine", a group of teachers who believe OUSD's current curriculum doesn't teach both sides of the conflict.

"This is not a perspective that occupies center stage very often, and I feel it's just so important for that to happen right now," said Landry.

Judy Greenspan is an OUSD middle school substitute teacher and one of the OEA for Palestine organizers. They said while the teach-in was not organized by the teacher's union, the Oakland Education Association (OEA), board members of the union passed a resolution Monday night supporting it.

Greenspan added more than 100 teachers signed up to be part of it, but they do not know how many actually participated. They noted that they identify as Jewish and feel criticizing the country of Israel for how it's handling this conflict is not automatically antisemitic.

"It's standing up for social justice. That's what teaching in Oakland has been. Standing up against racism, standing up for social justice, standing up for the most oppressed, and right now the Palestinian's are the most oppressed people in the world," said Greenspan.

Furfero said this type of activism doesn't belong in schools.

"I just don't think our schools are the soap box for this, and our children are not the audience, and their education is not the weapon," he said.

KPIX 5 reached out both the teacher's union, OEA, and Oakland Unified for comment on the teach-in. Neither one responded to the requests.

OEA for Palestine organizers said that while this was the first teach-in, they do plan to have more as the school year goes on.

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