Measure G1 – Yet Another Giveaway to the Deep-Pocketed Charter School Industry

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Many of the people looked like Oaklanders, but the brand new, fresh-out-the-box baby blue t-shirts that they all wore betrayed the fact that they were trying to advance an agenda that did not originate in Oakland. At two of the first three school board meetings this year, the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) paid for pizza and drinks to mobilize families to come out and lobby district leadership to give money to privately run charter schools that Oakland voters had specifically earmarked for publicly run schools. It was reminiscent of many previous board meetings where shiny, private busses would show up full of charter school staff and families on a mission to make sure that their privately run, exclusionary, and unaccountable schools could get reapproved for more public funding.

As if suing OUSD last year to get their hands on more public land and lobbying the school board this year for access to funds that were meant specifically for publicly run schools wasn’t enough, the CCSA and other deep-pocketed charter advocates like GO Public Schools are also promoting a ballot measure this Fall that asks Oakland voters to force Oakland property owners to put even more public money into their private pockets.

Measure G1 proposes a third parcel tax for schools on Oakland property owners since 2008. Measure G, which passed in 2008, specifically did not allow charter schools access to its revenue. Measure G funds are the revenue that the CCSA is trying to tap into with their pizza and t-shirt giveaways. Measure N, passed in 2014, allows charter schools access to its revenue.

Among other things, 2008’s Measure G was supposed to permanently pay for teacher recruitment and retention and music and arts programs. This year, Measure G1 also promises to pay for teacher recruitment and retention and music and arts programs. The main difference between the two measures is that charter schools would legally have access to G1 funds.

Oakland homeowners should not be asked to pay more just so that the charter school industry can pocket more.g1-donors1

Measure G1 supporters focus on the emotional argument that teachers are underpaid, and teachers absolutely are. However, while district leaders are quick to claim credit for negotiating a salary raise for teachers two years ago, they just unilaterally announced that they are gutting that raise due to lower than expected enrollment. Enrollment is low in OUSD because district leaders — whose campaigns are funded by GO Public Schools and the California Charter School Association — are proliferating and growing charter schools that siphon students and their funding away from OUSD-run schools.

The district is actually asking homeowners to pay $120 a year for the next 12 years so they can pay the teachers whom they are taking a raise away from while they simultaneously take credit for negotiating that raise. Seriously.

Additionally, according to a recent report commissioned by the district itself, OUSD spends too much on central administrators. When Superintendent Antwan Wilson is earning almost $300,000 a year and his cadre of compliant administrators earn six figure salaries as well, should homeowners be asked to pony up more money to pay the teachers who work under these high-paid administrators?

G1 supporters claim that charter school families will pay for this parcel tax, but that is dishonest. You don’t have to live in Oakland to send your child to an Oakland charter school. You don’t have to own a home either.

Charter schools have their own revenue streams in addition to our tax dollars, and are allowed to advertise relentlessly. Given that these privately run schools are in direct competition with public schools and the playing field is skewed in favor of charters, it is inappropriate that the district would ask homeowners to pay a third parcel tax for things that we are already permanently paying a parcel tax for, just so that charter schools can get more funding.

While parcel taxes are a common way for public school districts to increase revenue, they are unfair because low-income homeowners pay the exact same as wealthy owners of large commercial properties. So not only would the few teachers who can afford to own homes in Oakland be taxed extra for their own salary increases, they will be taxed the same amount that Uber pays for its prestigious Uptown Station property. There are other ways to tap into the vast resources available in this city, this region, and this state.

Like many Oaklanders, I voted for Measure N and Measure G because I saw no other options for our public schools. I won’t vote for G1, though. Rather than continuing to follow the lead of deep-pocketed charter school advocates, the district should focus more on actually improving OUSD public schools, which have many problems of their own that need to be addressed.

Please vote no on Measure G1.

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5 thoughts on “Measure G1 – Yet Another Giveaway to the Deep-Pocketed Charter School Industry

  1. I am surprised to see a parent organization is taking a stand (contrary to the Central Labor Council and other progressive endorsements I’ve seen) against a bond measure that will put more money toward teacher salaries and middle schools, the large majority to district schools. From my view as a parent, this undercuts the credibility of the other good work that OUSD Parent United is doing (i.e., calling out the grotesque quantities of outside spending on our local school board race from random billionaires). I was also troubled by the dog-whistley anti-tax rhetoric and the unsupported claim that there are “other ways” to get resources.

    I would have voted for a version of measure G1 that excluded charter schools, but I will just as certainly vote for the version of measure G1 that IS on the ballot and I hope has broad-based enough appeal to pass. Our schools are trying to do too much with too little (I guess this is what the blog author dismisses as an “emotional” appeal), and Measure G1 will do a small amount to help fix it.

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    1. Hi Anna, thanks for your comment, but Measure G1 is a parcel tax, not a bond measure. If you look into it, you’ll notice that the Oakland teacher’s union is not endorsing G1. That should tell you a lot. Also, please read this recent article by the Eastbay Express, the same billionaires flooding this election with financing for the pro-privatization candidates are also the ones backing Measure G1. http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/how-a-handful-of-pro-charter-billionaires-flooded-oaklands-school-board-elections-with-big-time-cash/Content?oid=5016336

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      1. I’m sorry, I wrote bonds when I meant to say tax, but I do understand the difference and I support G1 as-is. I had read the Oakland Express article when it first came out, but if the billionaires are spending tons of $$ on G1, I have yet to see the evidence in terms of fliers or pop-up ads (in stark contrast to the school board races– and I don’t even live in a district with an open seat!). Overall school funding is a great space for common ground.

        I am sure there are more perfect ways to raise public funds to support education, but given the very large gap between the value of public education and what we as a society seem willing to spend on it, I will vote YES on G1 as one step in the right direction.

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    2. Hi Anna
      As the wife of a retired Oakland Jr High teacher and the step mom of 2 Oakland Public School graduates, I would normally have voted yes on G1 if I didn’t read the whole thing. In the sample ballot
      I found the wording of the formula for allotment methodology extremely confusing and unclear. I always support raises for teachers and those who work in the schools. But charter schools are sapping our public schools as it is and aren’ required to share their funds with their non teacher colleagues. There is a very good argument made by Jim 2812 with which I agree. My husband is currently a substitute in the district (public school) and understands full well the necessity of raises for teachers. I as a private music teacher see the need for the arts and music in the public schools and again, I would have voted yes if the charters had to pull their own weight. I think G1 is a giveaway to the burgeoning charter school industry as is Prop 51, in my opinion. Let’s see if we can get a measure onto the next ballot that reduces the amounts that go to charters that we can all support. btw: Do you understand the allotment methodology paragraph in the text of the measure? 6 years of college and I don’t.

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  2. The allocation of G1 money supporting pay raises between employees in charter schools, that are not usually union employees, and the allocation of Measure G1 pay raise funding for employees in the District, that are usually union employees, is not equal.

    Fact is under terms of Measure G1 non-union Board charter school teachers will be funded at a greater amount than Oakland teachers because G1 requires District teachers to share their pay increase with all union employees in the District while Measure G1 language doesn’t allow non-educators to be funded with Measure G1 money.

    Consequence of the Board’s charter school teachers not having to share their portion of Measure G1 funding with the other non-teaching employees of their charter school means charter school teachers will receive a higher amount of a Measure G1 paid raise than District’s unionized teachers.

    Why did the Oakland Education Association union leadership allow Measure G1 to go forward without expressing concern over the allocation language favoring charter school teachers over District teachers.

    I don’t know. But my guess is that the allocation language of Measure G1 is complex and OEA leadership when meeting with representatives from the administration that were drafting the language of Measure G1 may not have seen that charter school teachers would get more funding than District teachers.

    It is ideal for the OEA to support pay raise for all District union employees in shaping Measure G1’s allocation language. But, of course the OEA leadership is not in favor of funding greater pay raise for the Board’s charter school teachers than for its District teachers.

    I believe OEA leadership would have worked for language that both provided pay raises to all union workers in the District but, as the same time would fund pay raise that was equal to pay raise charter school teachers would receive if Measure G1 passes.

    Tonerdeeski posted: “you’ll notice that the Oakland teacher’s union is not endorsing G1.” When Oakland teachers Representative Council voted whether to support Measure G1 pay raise, there were too many negatives associated with G1 to get majority of teachers to vote for Measure G1 although it provided a pay raise.

    The reason that majority of teachers were not willing to support Measure G1 that included a pay raise were many. Some teachers were concerned the tax increase would hurt low income renters. Teacher that own property in Oakland were not happy about funding their pay raise by raising their property tax yet again to pay for their own raise. And, some teachers did not like Measure G1 requirement that year end enrollment of District and the Board’s middle schools would determine the amount of Measure G1 funding supporting their pay raise. Measure G1 requirement is that if middle school enrollment increased in favor of charter schools, then the funding of District teachers’ pay raise would be have to be reallocated to supporting charter school pay raises. With a school board that does not appear will to say no to charter schools it is likely charter school enrollment will increase and undermine funding of the Measure G1 pay increases promised.

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