(CNN)Of all the teachers' strikes across the country, this one is especially consequential.
Oakland teachers hit the picket lines Thursday, unable to afford the soaring cost of living near Silicon Valley.
Some are getting priced out of their homes. The crisis is so dire, the school district is losing almost 20% of its teachers every year.
"It's time for the (school) district to listen now. They forced us to this moment to strike," said Oakland Education Association President Keith Brown.
But here's the problem: Teachers are demanding higher raises from a school district that's already broke. The Oakland Unified School District is in such bad shape, it's planning to lay off 112 staff.
The district says it barely has enough money to take care of its low-income students -- 75% qualify for free or reduced lunch. So giving teachers higher raises might be out of the question.
No one knows how long this strike will last, or what victory for either side will look like. But it will come at a steep cost to a community already suffering.
The district says it overspent, but for good reason
Both sides agree teachers should be paid more. The big debate is how much the school district can afford.
Teachers are demanding a 12% increase in pay over the next three years. They also want more counselors and nurses, so schools can have at least one counselor for every 250 students and at least one nurse for every 750 students.
The school district has offered at least 5% raises over three years -- short of what the Oakland Education Association is demanding.
That offer "will not keep pace with inflation," said arbitrator Najeeb Khoury, who wrote an independent fact-finding report about the dispute.
"It is also clear that OUSD will have a very difficult time affording a 12% raise over three years, as it is in a structural deficit."
School district spokesman John Sasaki said "there's no question there's been mismanagement over the years" -- but not for the reasons you might think.
"We have done a lot more for our kids than other school districts. A lot of that is becau