Will Charter School Budgets Also Be Cut?

We have been getting this question a lot in the last few weeks: “Will charter school budgets also be cut like OUSD school budgets?” The answer is NO. Below is a quick, and somewhat simplified, primer on how charter schools affect the District’s budget.

Both district-run public schools and charter schools receive the vast majority of their state funding based on Average Daily Acartoon_6-4ttendance (ADA). For most charter schools, this funding flows directly to the charter from the state, not through the district’s budget.  When a student attends a charter school, rather than a district school, the ADA funds follow that student to the charter school.

You might think, and the charter lobby will have you think, that this is a net neutral equation for the district’s budget: the money follows the student and, since the district no longer has to educate that student, they don’t experience an impact to their budget. However, this isn’t how it plays out in reality, where students leaving the district for charter schools actually represent a loss in revenue for the District, but not an equal reduction in expenses.

For example, if a new charter elementary school opens, students who attend that school could come from any of half a dozen District-run elementary schools nearby.  These students leave a few seats empty in many District classrooms, but represent very little reduction in expenses because the District still has to pay for a teacher for each class, the same Principal, the same electricity and heat bills, the same library/front office/support/cafeteria staff, the same buildings and grounds costs, etc.

What this means is that students who stay in those public schools are forced to make do with less, despite having higher needs. The schools most impacted by charter schools in Oakland are also our highest poverty schools, with the highest concentrations of special education students, English language learners, and newcomer students. Obviously, this is not equity.

We were encouraged earlier this month when the OUSD Board voted 6-1 to reject a new charter high school from the charter chain Education for Change, and Board President James Harris called for a “pause” on new charter school petitions for the next 21 months. After years of encouraging and approving charter schools, the Board finally seems to understand that we need to invest in OUSD, and can’t afford any new charter schools. OUSD parents, students and community must continue to push for this position.

Want to learn more about the effects of charter schools and corporate-backed school reform on our public schools? Join us on Monday, December 11th at 6:30pm at Tech for a free screening of the documentary “Backpack Full of Cash,” which explores the growing privatization of public schools and the resulting impact on America’s most vulnerable children. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, BACKPACK FULL OF CASH takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year, exposing the world of corporate-driven education “reform” where public education — starved of resources — hangs in the balance. Sound familiar? Watch the trailer here.


Tell the OUSD Board to Protect the District’s Properties!

While OUSD parents, students and staff were busy packing up classrooms, enjoying the first few days of summer, and cheering on the Warriors (!!!), the OUSD School Board posted the agenda for this Wednesday’s board meeting. Not only is the Board voting to approve a proposed contract for new Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell (which starts her salary at the same level as her predecessor Antwan Wilson, meaning we are still paying top-level execs way too much in OUSD), but the Board plans to vote to endorse legislation that will give more of our publicly-owned property away to privately-managed charter schools!oppose_3

SB 765 (sponsored by San Francisco State Senator Scott Weiner), requires that before a school district sells or leases surplus property, it must first offer the surplus property – at below market rate – to a charter school, unless the property is being used for teacher housing. The bill reinstates an old law, which expired last year.  While the old law only required districts to offer district property “designed to provide direct instruction or instructional support” to charter schools, SB 765 does not include that distinction, making ALL surplus district property up-for-grabs to charter schools.

It is surprising that the OUSD Board’s legislative committee is recommending a vote to support this legislation and give away more local control over the District’s resources. This is especially concerning as the District embarks upon the “Blueprint for Quality Schools” which may result in the closure of school campuses, because this bill would inhibit what the District can do with that property. The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and the California School Board Association (CSBA), the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO), San Diego Unified School District, San Francisco Unified School District, the California Teachers Association, the California Federation of Teachers, the California School Employees Association, the California Labor Federation, and several other smaller school districts are all recommending a vote AGAINST SB 765, and so should OUSD.

Please call and/or email the OUSD Directors today, and urge them to vote to OPPOSE SB 765.

In related good news, the Board’s legislative committee is recommending a vote to SUPPORT two important pieces of charter accountability legislation: SB 808 (sponsored by Senator Mendoza), which would change the charter authorization process so that only local school districts where a charter is located can serve as charter authorizers; and AB 1478 (sponsored by Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer), which would make charter schools follow the same open meeting, public records and conflict of interest laws as school districts. When you call and email the OUSD Board to oppose SB 765, please encourage them to SUPPORT SB 808 and AB 1478.

Sample Letter to Alameda County Board of Ed Re: Aurum Preparatory Academy

Aurum Preparatory Academy’s charter was rejected nearly unanimously by our School Board in December for being unlikely to succeed and failing to present a sound educational or financial plan, among other reasons. On Tuesday, April 11th, the petition will be in front of the Alameda County Board of Education for their consideration. California’s charter school law unfairly and undemocratically overrules the local control of school boards to manage the educational programs of their districts by allowing charter schools to appeal rejections, first to the County and then the State, who can then authorize the placement of the school in Oakland. It is imperative that the County Board of Education hear from Oakland families opposing the opening of this charter school in our community. There are many reasons why Aurum should not be operating in Oakland, but the County Board is limited in what arguments it can consider. We have prepared a draft letter here which you can modify to reflect your concerns and send it to the Alameda County Board members listed below. Please take a minute to send the email by Monday at noon to ensure that the board has adequate time to consider it.


Dear Alameda County Board of Education Members:

I am writing to ask you to reject Aurum Preparatory Academy’s charter petition appeal, and affirm the OUSD Board of Education’s rejection of the proposed charter school. I am [WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF, IE: A TEACHER AT AN OAKLAND SCHOOL NEAR THE PROPOSED AURUM SITE, A PARENT WITH 3 CHILDREN IN OUSD SCHOOLS, ETC.], and I urge you to vote to confirm the OUSD’s decision to reject the Aurum petition for the following reasons:

  • The appeal represents a “material revision” from the petition presented to OUSD, and rejected in December 2016. The change of the school’s opening date from 2017 to 2018 invalidates the signatures of parents “meaningfully interested” in enrolling their child for the fall 2017 opening and requires Aurum to go back to the OUSD school board for approval or rejection before the county board is permitted to accept the appeal.
  • The OUSD Board made the right decision when it rejected the Aurum petition, as the Aurum school leadership lacks the experience necessary to successfully implement the school plan; the Aurum petition fails to establish a sound education plan; and the petition lacks all the required elements, including concerns about financial stability and cash flow to sustain the program.

The East Oakland public school community has recently experienced the direct destabilization associated with the failure of the Castlemont Primary Academy charter school at the very site where Aurum proposes to locate. East Oakland kids need stability, not further instability. For all of these reasons, I urge you to reject the appeal of Aurum.





Send to: jrivera@acoe.org, achildress@acoe.org, kberrick@acoe.org, aknowles@acoe.org, fsims@acoe.org, emcdonald@acoe.org, ycerrato@acoe.org

It’s time for our School Board to reassert its authority over the budget


Over the last month news reports have come out that show that our District may be facing up to a $30 million budget shortfall in the coming year, surprising both the public and, reportedly, our elected Board members. Without first seeking the approval of the elected school board, or engaging school communities, the Superintendent and his staff spent the last week telling OUSD Principals about unilateral plans to save money by consolidating schools in East and West Oakland, as well as decreasing the number of schools eligible for an Assistant Principal. These plans are a clear departure from existing Board policy, and the Superintendent plans to  present them to the Board for its “after the fact” approval this Wednesday, January 11th at 5 pm at City Hall. Please call the Board members today to demand the reassert their control over this process.

When Superintendent Wilson arrived, OUSD had 4 employees earning over $200k, now we have 26. When he arrived, we had 30 employees earning over $150k, now we have 140. Nonetheless, when faced with a budget deficit, the Superintendent’s solution is to close, consolidate and make cuts to school sites rather than cutting central administrative bloat. As parents, students, educators and community members, we must demand that our elected school board take control of this situation, reassert its authority as the decision-making body of the district, and seek budget solutions that will not harm our school sites.

The Board will hear an initial proposal from the Superintendent and his staff this Wednesday. Please call and leave a message for your School Board member TODAY to let them know that you will not stand for cuts to schools, and that you expect them to reassert their authority over these types of decisions. You can find a sample phone rap and phone numbers for the Board members here. You can also attend the board meeting on Wednesday, January 11th at 5pm in City Hall.

OUSD Board Resolution Affirms Oakland Schools Are Safe Spaces for All Students

For Immediate Release
December 15, 2016

OUSD Board Passes Post-Election Resolution to Support ALL Students, Families, & Staff

Community-Based Coalition Demanded Resolution to Assure Immigrant and Muslim Students: OUSD Schools Are Safe Spaces

Oakland, CA: Wednesday evening the OUSD Board of Education passed a resolution (#1617-0089) submitted by Directors Shanthi Gonzales and Roseann Torres to support all OUSD students in the wake of the election, re-affirming their support for immigrants (regardless of their status) and Muslim students, as well as students of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders and sexual orientations in our District.

img_20161215_101920The resolution was supported by a broad multi-racial and community-based coalition of student, parent, racial justice, education, faith and labor organizations after Oakland students raised their voices in the days following the election, declaring that Mr. Trump’s policies are not welcome in Oakland.

Trump himself, as well as those who he appoints, will not be in support of public education and youth, especially youth of color,” said Zhihao Guo, a 10th grader at Oakland Technical High School. “As an Asian American and student of color, I deserve the right to a good public education that helps me become aware of what is going on in my community. We must make the Oakland Unified School District a sanctuary district to provide the rightful education that we all deserve.”

The resolution reaffirms that school district’s commitment to keeping Oakland schools as safe spaces, especially important after the presidential election when many families, students and staff were left feeling vulnerable and afraid.

“We need this resolution because families feel equality will not be in their favor once president-elect Donald Trump takes office. Homes will be broken by family separation. Stress has come over children who should be doing school work but are too afraid to leave parents. Children are not getting sleep and not eating worried of being alone here,” said Sandra Wilson, a parent at Elmhurst College Prep.

“Ever since the election, so many people have been on edge! I have heard insults thrown across the room, such as immigrants not belonging here or people of color being responsible for destroying our communities. Because of this atmosphere, I and many other black students have experienced micro aggressions and we all understand that those micro aggressions can turn into full force aggressions. We feel unsafe in our own communities. Young people of color should not feel this way,” said Nailiah Williams a 12th Grader at Gateway to College at Laney.

“The morning after the election, students came to class scared and angry. One student asked while crying, ‘How could Trump win, he is racist and mean. He wants to send my parents back.’ I’m glad my union and all the community organizations came together to defend my community and students,” said Ismael Armendariz, a special education teacher at Edna Brewer Middle School.

“Some of my friends and community were terrified when President-elect Trump won, worried about what’s going to happen. The resolution makes me feel we can have a better future and I’m optimistic that things will change. I feel proud and strong to be a Muslim and an American citizen,” said Zaineb Alomari, a parent at Community United Elementary School.

The resolution was supported by the following organizations:

Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN)
Black Organizing Project
Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area Office (CAIR-SFBA)
Californians for Justice
Centro Legal de la Raza
East Oakland DREAMers
Oakland Community Organizations
Oakland Education Association (OEA)
Parents United for Public Schools
Public Advocates
Urban Peace Movement
67 Sueños
Jorge Lerma, Educational Activist


Parents United for Public Schools Statement on the Departure of OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson

Parents United for Public Schools released the following statement on the announced departure of OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson:

“The departure of Superintendent Antwan Wilson midway through his contract to lead our schools presents Oakland with a unique opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past, and select a new leader who is committed to making a difference in our students’ lives and who will stay in Oakland long enough to see those changes through.

“The past two years have seen a decline in enrollment while upper-level administrative salaries have skyrocketed more than 500%. Major changes in the Programs for Exceptional Children and Student Enrollment have come without meaningful input from parents, teachers, staff or community, and the departure of long time administrators has further destabilized the district. Planning for major district initiatives has been made in closed meetings with charter leaders, but without input from our public school community. It is time for our District to put our public schools first by hiring a superintendent who believes in our public school system, who will work to create true community schools that will support and educate the whole child, and who will stay at least long enough to see those changes through.

“We call on the School Board to conduct an open and transparent search for a new superintendent in partnership with those most impacted by District policies: students, parents, teachers, staff and true community-based organizations. Our children deserve a leader with deep connections to Oakland, a strong belief in its public schools and a commitment to following through with the transformation of OUSD as a quality full-service community school district.”

MEDIA RELEASE: Oakland PTA Leaders Denounce Misleading Election Campaign

For Immediate Release

November 6, 2014

Contact: Kimi Lee, Melrose Leadership Academy PTSA President, 213-864-1744

Kim Davis, Parents United for Public Schools, 510-219-0950

Oakland PTA Leaders Denounce Misleading Election Campaign

Wall Street & Silicon Valley Billionaires Using Deceptive Name to Mislead Voters

Oakland, CA: On election eve, current and former Parent Teacher Association (PTA) leaders from a number of schools within the Oakland Unified School District are speaking out against a misleading campaign by Wall Street & Silicon Valley billionaires trying to influence local school board elections.

The special interest campaign, which is flooding local school board elections with outside money, is being heralded by a Super PAC that calls itself the Parent Teacher Alliance.  This appears to be an attempt to confuse voters and dupe them into thinking that the campaign is being supported by the more traditional non-profit & non-partisan Parent Teacher Association. Concerned by the apparently intentional similarities between the name selected by the political Parent Teacher Alliance and that of the non-profit PTA, the California PTA put out a press release in June of this year informing voters that the Super PAC is not connected to the Parent Teacher Association.

“We believe they are using the name ‘Parent Teacher Alliance’ to mislead voters. Oakland schools are not for sale, and Oakland parent leaders will not stand by while these outside billionaires attempt to mislead voters,” stated Kimi Lee, the President of the PTSA of Melrose Leadership Academy.

PTA and PTSA leaders from schools throughout Oakland released the following statement:

As leaders and members in the Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), Parent Teacher Student Associations (PTSA) and Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) at public schools throughout Oakland, we stand in opposition to the misleading campaigning by the Parent Teacher Alliance.

The Parent Teacher Association is a national non-profit organization with branches in every state and region that serves all students and never endorses political candidates. It is trusted by parents, teachers and communities throughout California (and the country) as a voice for public schools and children.  By contrast, the similarly named Super PAC “Parent Teacher Alliance” is a political organization sponsored and funded by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates, which floods communities with outside money from Wall Street and Silicon Valley billionaires in order to convince voters to support their endorsed school board candidates. 

The National and California PTA have expressed concerns about the apparently deliberate similarities between the naming of the Super PAC and the PTA, issuing a “cease and desist” letter and a statement that the use of the name “gives an appearance … that seems to trade on the credibility and reputation” of the PTA, causing public “confusion.” We join with the PTA in protesting the misleading and continued use by the Parent Teacher Alliance of a name which causes voter confusion and may result in unintended and unfair outcomes.

As the Chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission we demand that you ensure voters are not misled in this election, and future elections, by prohibiting this Super PAC from using the Parent Teacher Alliance name. This Super PAC is NOT affiliated with the PTA and there are many parents, including the undersigned, who oppose its involvement in our school board elections in this unfair manner.


Kimi Lee, President, Melrose Leadership Academy PTSA

Etel Calles, Vice President, Melrose Leadership Academy PTSA

Linda Handy, President, Kaiser Elementary School PTA

Christy Getz, President, Edna Brewer Middle School PTSA

Ben Visnick, Treasurer & Past President, Oakland High School PTSA

Esther Gulli, First Vice President, Montera Middle School PTO

Yulanda Young Smith, Co-President, Crocker Highlands PTA

Jennifer Houser, Volunteer Coordinator, Melrose Leadership Academy PTSA

Liz Suk, Room Parent Coordinator, Melrose Leadership Academy PTSA

Joel Velasquez, Former President, Westlake Middle School PTSA

Ramon Nasol, Former Parliamentarian, Vice President & President, Joaquin Miller Elementary School PTA

Kristen Caven, Past President, Oakland Technical High School PTSA

Cathy Shadd Rosenfeld, Former Historian, Oakland Technical High School PTSA

April Schlenk, Former Co-Chair, Sequoia Elementary School PTO (FOSS)

Nancy Murr, Former VP of Communications, Oakland Technical High School PTSA

Guy Spencer, Past President, Montera PTO & Past Executive Vice President, Joaquin Miller Elementary School PTA

Melinda Gallagher, Past Secretary, Kaiser Elementary School PTA

** Titles for identification purposes only

The Oakland parent leaders have also put the statement online as a petition for other PTA members and leaders to sign at the following URL: http://bit.ly/StopMisleadingParents.