SF Chronicle, “Oakland keeping 5 child care centers open”
“Oakland keeping 5 child care centers open”
Kevin Fagan, SF Chronicle [August 28, 2010]
Parents and activists fighting to save a string of low-income child care centers in Oakland won a partial victory Friday when the school district came up with enough funding to keep most of the centers open – but protesters are now occupying the two that have been shut, demanding that they, too, be preserved.
Members of the community group By Any Means Necessary said they will stay in the two centers through the weekend and open them up on Monday whether the district likes it or not.
“We’ve got to draw a line with early childhood education,” Yvette Felarca of Oakland, an organizer with the group, said as she prepared to bed down for the night in the Golden Gate Childhood Development Center on Herzog Street, one of the two facilities closed as of 5 p.m. Friday. “We want the school district, the governor and Sacramento to know they’ve got to stop playing political games with our children.
“We’re serious about keeping these centers open. We are continuing our occupation until the district says they are keeping them open.”
The other center being occupied, and marked as closed, is Santa Fe Childhood Development Center on Adeline Street. Both are in North Oakland. About a half-dozen protesters are at each, and Felarca said parents of the centers’ students have been bringing them food.
Oakland Unified School District spokesman Troy Flint said that instead of focusing on the two shutting centers, Felarca and her colleagues should appreciate the successful effort to keep the other five open. Seven of the district’s 31 early childhood development centers were targeted for closure at the end of the workday Friday because of funding shortages blamed largely on threatened state budget cuts.
“We consider keeping the five centers open a victory,” Flint said. “We worked diligently, really around the clock, to make the arrangement that will provide the same services the families are accustomed to at the same cost. A lot of sacrifice went into this.”
Flint said the district was able to find $2.1 million in its budget to fund the five centers through December.
“It’s unfortunate that BAMN is tainting the victory with this type of action, which is so counterproductive.”
He said district representatives will try to speak to protesters to come to an understanding before Monday.
E-mail Kevin Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page C – 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle