It was March of 8th grade when I head the news: Ms. Thaler, my English teacher, was being fired! This couldn’t happen! Though I would still have her until the end of the year, all my 7th grade friends wouldn’t, and that would be horrible! Ms. Thaler was like the best teacher ever! More than that, she was a friend.
I learned that technically, Ms. Thaler wasn’t being fired; she was being “non-reelected,” which meant that not only was she fired, she couldn’t teach in OUSD in the future, and at job interviews, she’d have to tell her prospective employers that she’d been non-reelected. Plus, the administration, led by our principal, Ms. Crockett, wouldn’t have to even give a reason, because Ms. Thaler was “probationary.”
My friend started a petition to get the non-reelectment rescinded, and I made a Facebook group to help organize it. The petition never got anywhere, but the group members showed how much they loved Ms. Thaler by writing comments on the page and writing touching letters of support. As one of the people said, “She was like my fave teacher last year, she was fun & helped me learn, so why in the hell would she be getting fired?”
In April, me, my mom, quite a few friends, and a whole lot of supportive teachers took the letters of support to a school board meeting. We stood at the stand and poured out our hearts for Ms. Thaler. We talked about how she stood up for us, became our friend, helped us improve, and made school fun. Ms. Williams, the other 8th grade English teacher, explained that, despite being a teacher for a lot longer than Ms. Thaler, she was constantly going to Ms. Thaler for help with her teaching. After the meeting, a journalist from Oakland North, a popular online newspaper centered on North Oakland, interviewed us about our case, and we ended up taking up most of the article on the school board meeting. Things seemed pretty darn hopeful that the school board would supersede the administration and de-non-reelect Ms. Thaler.
A few weeks later, the teacher’s union in Oakland decided to hold a one-day strike for better wages, as the city was spending too much on administration and not enough on teachers and students. Some friends and I skipped school and joined the picket line, then took the BART to the rally in front of City Hall. It was wonderful to be a part of it, and the next day, Ms. Thaler was on the front cover of the SF Chronicle, high fiving a student and wearing her union shirt and skirt that she had tailored out of another union shirt.
However, since that meeting, we hadn’t heard anything. Ms. Thaler told me that, whatever the decision, she would probably be leaving Claremont at the end of the year. Then, in mid-May she gave me the news: the school board had decided to let the administration non-reelect her. But despite that, I’m hopeful for Ms. Thaler.
I’m hopeful because I know that a ban from teaching in OUSD and a black mark on her resume won’t stop Ms. Thaler. No matter what it takes, she will find a way to make somebody, somewhere feel a whole lot better. And hey, their grammar might get a bit gooder too.
6 years ago