Public Schools Should Serve All Kids. Period.

Last year, we dug into the data for two co-located high schools in East Oakland to see who those schools, located on the same campus, were serving, and the results were startling. The two school populations were not even close to similar, despite, in theory, drawing from the same pool of students. If charter schools accept public money, shouldn’t they be serving all kids?

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We are once again in Prop 39 season, when OUSD offers up “underutilized” classrooms at district schools to charters for co-location on the OUSD campus. This year, 9 schools have been given final offers of space, and although not all are likely to take the offers, some will and that will mean disruption to the OUSD students on those campuses. In one Los Angeles community, the potential co-location of the Ganas charter has resulted in a heated battle as district parents fight to stop the disruption and inequities caused when a charter school crowds onto their campus.

In Oakland, the communities of impacted schools like Hoover, Bret Harte and West Oakland Middle School are organizing to show charter schools that the “underutilized space” that the charter would be co-opting houses vital services, and that the disruption caused by co-location is not welcome.

Colocation Inequities

So once again, let’s look at who charter schools are, and are not, serving in Oakland when they are on the same campus. OUSD currently has 6 campuses where a charter school is co-located with a district school, and 8 which have been offered to charter schools for colocation next year. Comparing the data from all 14 OUSD schools to the charters reveals a stark pattern: in every category of underserved student population, the district schools serve far more students on average in each group:

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Just as when we compared the two co-located schools in East Oakland, the results are clear, and extremely concerning. Charter schools in Oakland, at least those in District facilities, are excluding certain students in ways that concentrate need in the co-located or soon-to-be co-located district schools. At the most extreme, the population differences can be jaw-dropping. Bret Harte serves 17% more special education students than American Indian, with 11 special education teachers, a broad spectrum of need including some who require constant medical care, not to mention the 265 newcomer students in two programs. The “underutilized space” at Bret Harte provides places to meet the needs of those students and more.

Equally problematic is the “othering” of students that often accompanies co-locations, and that is particularly true when the difference is economic. At Frick Impact Academy, 93% of students qualify for Free or Reduced Price Lunch. The potentially co-located charter Urban Montessori has just 28% of students in that group, a jaw dropping 65% discrepancy. The socio-economic differences, especially at the middle school age level, can cause social and emotional harm to public school students who might see themselves as less than the more affluent charter school students.

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Charter schools like to refer to themselves as “Public Charter Schools” because they want us to believe that they are a public good in the same way our district schools are. The truth is, they are not serving all kids, and although they take public money, they are not public schools. District schools are serving all kids, regardless of need, and the spaces that are being offered up as “underutilized” are in fact critical for educating kids in those district schools. We hope that the charter schools which have been offered space at our schools, charter schools which we know are NOT including all children, will not compound the inequities that creates by taking away learning spaces from district kids.

Notes:
  1. The Lakeview campus also has a charter, but it shares space with administrative offices and is not included here.
  2. Some charters were made multi-site offers and all of those schools were included. Some were offered space at campuses which no longer house OUSD students, and they were not included as the focus of this post is co-located schools.
  3. This study was limited to the two largest demographic groups in OUSD, African American and Latino.
  4. To be clear, OUSD is not doing enough for the students they serve, and we will continue to push the District to do better for all kids.
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Tell Jody London to choose: Oakland families, or the billionaire privatizers?

frank ogawa plaza day 1photo credit: Joe Brusky

It is hard to find anybody in Oakland who isn’t standing firmly behind our teachers’ demands for a living wage, smaller class sizes, and more counselors and nurses. Tens of thousands of Oaklanders have joined picket lines, rallied downtown, and marched through the streets for the schools Oakland students deserve.

However, one person we haven’t heard from is District 1 Board Director Jody London.

In fact, the community’s support for OEA’s demands are totally contrary to Director London’s support for a plan to close Kaiser Elementary School and 23 other Oakland schools – most of which are in Black and Brown communities – and which history demonstrates will result in even more charter schools – which already cost OUSD $57 million per year!jody london

As our school board member, we need to know which side Jody London is on. Parents, students and teachers, or the billionaires pushing to close and privatize our schools? It is time that Oakland teachers and students came back to their classrooms, and the sooner that Jody London takes a firm position in support of our teachers, the sooner that will happen.

Call Director London (510-879-2161), comment on her Facebook page, and email her (jody.london@ousd.org)  to ask her to immediately take a firm public position in support of our teachers and help get our students back in school. The community has spoken, now it is Jody London’s turn.

 

Tell Gary Yee to Pick a Side: Oakland Families or Billionaires?

52020608_10106072766025268_5900489752724897792_o(1)Oakland is standing firmly behind our teachers, with 95% of teachers on strike, and only an estimated 3% of Oakland families sending their kids to school.

However, while all of Oakland is in the streets, District 4 Board member Gary Yee is sitting on the sidelines.

Maybe this isn’t surprising, because he was elected with nearly $150,000 from GO Public Schools’ Super PAC, with backing from billionaire (and privatization supporter) Michael Bloomberg.Gary-Yee

As our school board member, we need to know which side Gary Yee is on: the side of parents, students and teachers, or the side of the billionaires? It is time that Oakland teachers and students come back to their classrooms, and the sooner that Gary Yee takes a firm position in support of our teachers, the sooner this strike will end.

Call (510) 290-2801, email (gary.yee@ousd.org), and post on the Facebook page of Director Yee, and tell him that he must IMMEDIATELY take a firm public position in support of OEA’s demands for a living wage, smaller class sizes, more supports for students and an end to their plan to close up to 24 schools in Black and Latinx communities.

Enough is enough. It is time for OUSD to settle this contract now and stop starving our public schools.

Una Guía para Padres y Guardianes – Cómo Preparase para la posible Huelga de Maestros

ParentSupport_Espanol_FB_Desktop_Header_851x315 (2)Los maestros de la Asociación de Educación de Oakland (OEA) acaban de votar en forma transcendental para autorizar una huelga si el Distrito de Escuelas de Oakland (OUSD) no satisface sus demandas. Se unieron 84% de todos los maestros de Oakland para votar, con 95% autorizando la huelga. Esto no quiere decir que estarán de huelga inmediatamente, pero una huelga se podría anunciar en cualquier momento después del 15 de febrero. Después de ver lo que sucedió en Los Ángeles, sabemos que para lograr una huelga exitosa, es imprescindible que los maestros y las familias de OUSD se mantengan unidas. A continuación podrá encontrar una lista de formas que padres y guardianes pueden apoyar a nuestros maestros ahora y durante una huelga.

La primera fase: ¿Cómo podemos apoyar a los maestros ahora?

¡Háganse visible! Demuestre su apoyo para los maestros de Oakland

  •         Ponga este cartel de 8/5 x 11 en su auto, casa, o negocio: Estamos con los Maestros
  •         Mientras que reconocemos que cada familia tendrá que hacer sus propias decisiones acerca de qué hacer, y que no será fácil, la cosa más importante que puede hacer es no mandar a sus hijos a la escuela en el evento de que haya una huelga (a continuación hay más información y opciones de donde puede mandar a sus hijos, si no los puede mantener en casa.
  • Puede utilizar algún cuadro sobre su foto de perfil en Facebook (están en Español e Inglés) que dice que apoya a los maestros de Oakland para señalarle a OUSD que usted mantendrá a sus hijos en casa en el evento que haya una huelga. También puede bajar el imagen para compartirlo en Twitter y/o Instagram.
  • Una madre cuyos hijos asisten a la escuela en Oakland está vendiendo remeras y buzos que dicen “Los Maestros son el Corazón de Oakland”. Los procedimientos serán utilizados para ayudar a maestros, cuando sea necesario, mientras que estén de huelga, ya que NO RECIBIRÁN SU SUELDO: https://www.hellaheartteachers.com/

¡Hablen! Hagan correr la palabra entre otros padres y vecinos

  •         Organice una fiesta en su casa: Una muy buena forma de informar a su comunidad es organizar un fiesta para que su comunidad pueda conocer lo que está pasando. Esto podría incluir a sus vecinos, especialmente si vive cerca de una escuela. Usted sería responsable de invitar a más o menos 10 personas, proveer algunos bocadillos, y hablar de su perspectiva de padre. Tenemos recursos para brindar más información, y existe la posibilidad de que un maestro pueda venir a hablar acerca de la situación también. Cualquiera que esté interesado en tener una de estas fiestas en su casa puede llenar esta solicitud: House Party Interest Form
  •         ¡Hable con otros padres de su escuela! La huelga será lo más corto y eficaz si el 100% de los padres no cruzan la línea de piquete y no mandan a sus hijos a la escuela. Asegúrese que los otros padres sepan esto. Hay un documento con respuestas a preguntas frecuentes para padres aquí: información acerca de la posible huelga de los Maestros de Oakland. (Hay más información acerca de cómo puede arreglar el cuidado de sus hijos durante la huelga a continuación.)
  •         Comparta información en las redes de comunicación de su escuela: muchas escuelas tienen grupos en yahoo o otras plataformas de comunicación — utilizalos para conectarse con otros padres y compartir información a cerca de la huelga y como mejor apoyar a los maestros.
  •         Involucre a otros: La educación de la juventud es algo que le importa a muchas personas. Hable con sus vecinos, con retirados, y con cualquier otra persona que le parezca que esté interesado en aprender más acerca de cuáles son los pedidos de los maestros y cómo podemos ayudarlos.
  •         ¡Conéctese! Padres Unidos estará actualizando nuestro website, Facebook, y Twitter, así que asegúrese de seguirnos para obtener más información. También debería unirse o nuestro grupos en Facebook, Oakland Parents Supporting Teachers y ¡Nosotros Apoyamos a los Maestros de Oakland! para compartir información e ideas con otros padres, y para invitar a otros que conocen a que se declaren juntos a Maestros de Oakland. Esto fue una herramienta muy poderosa en la huelga en Los Ángeles! Para recibir las últimas noticias directamente de OEA, mande un correo a StandWithOaklandTeachers@gmail.com y síguelos en Facebook.

Involúcrese con la Política! Hazles saber a los oficiales electos de Oakland que usted está con los maestros

  •        Presione al consejo escolar para que adopten un contrato justo con maestros. El consejo necesita saber que los padres se unirán con los maestros en el evento que tengan que declarar una huelga, y que no mandarán a sus hijos a la escuela. Cada familia va a tener que tomar su propia decisión en cuanto mandar sus hijos a la escuela o no, pero mientras que no hayan alumnos en las escuela, no hay dinero, y el distrito tomará en serio esa pérdida de fondos. Padres deberían mandar este mensaje directamente a los miembros __: ¡si hay huelga, mis hijos no irán a la escuela!  Números de contacto y direcciones de correo electrónico aquí

Sea generoso! Done para ayudar a nuestros estudiantes y maestros en caso de una huelga

  •         “Bread for Ed” es una campaña organizada por los Socialistas Democráticas de América – East Bay para recaudar fondos que pagarán el costo de la comida, para los estudiantes que dependen de los almuerzos provistos por las escuelas (y también para los maestros protestando en los piquetes). Por favor done si Ud. puede y comparta el enlace en Facebook, Twitter y correo electrónico. Se puede encontrar el enlace de la campaña aquí.
  •   El fondo para los maestros: Ud. también puede donar al fondo de auxilio para los maestros que ya se encuentran mal pagados, para que puedan subsistir durante una huelga — durante el cual no ganan dinero! Se puede encontrar y compartir el enlace de donar aquí.

 

La segunda fase: ¿Cómo pueden los padres estar listos para una huelga?

Empiece o únase con un grupo de organizadores en un sitio escolar

  •         Algunas escuelas ya han empezado el proceso de planear, y otras todavía necesitan un padre para organizar. Hable con un maestro en la escuela de su hijo o hija — si la escuela ya ha tenido una reunión con los maestros sobre el contrato laboral, es posible que tengan una lista de padres que están interesados. Si no, hable con otros padres que usted conoce, elija un tiempo para reunirse, e invite a otros padres usando Facebook o cualquier plataforma de comunicación que se utiliza en su escuela.
  •         La nota importante según el tema es compartir la carga de trabajo. Los maestros estarán ocupados con su enseñanza, con la preparación por una huelga, y al final con las protestas en el piquete. Organice comités para hacer trabajo con las escuelas solidarias, la distribución de comida, y la valoración de los maestros. Elija a una persona para tener el papel de Líder del Equipo de Padres durante la huelga, para coordinar con el líder de los maestros y el sindicato. Añada su Líder a esta hoja electrónica: Parent and Teacher strike support site leaders
  •         Empiece ya! La huelga podría comenzar en cualquier momento después del 15 de febrero – por eso ahora es el tiempo para organizar!

 

Organice una “escuela solidaria” o una cooperativa para el cuidado de niños

  •         Es imprescindible que los padres mantengan sus hijos fuera de la escuela durante toda la huelga, que ojalá sea la más corta posible! Entendemos que esto será muy difícil para muchas familias, y todas tendrán que hacer lo mejor para sí mismas. Sabemos que algunas personas tienen horarios flexibles en su trabajo, parientes que puedan ayudar, o la capacidad de trabajar desde su propio hogar; si usted es una de ellas, debe pensar en lo que va ha hacer con sus propios hijos. Definitivamente planee llevar su hijo o hija a la línea del piquete — significaría mucho para los maestros y les ayudará a sus hijos contextualizar lo que está pasando.
  •         No todo el mundo tendrá la posibilidad de llevar a sus hijos, y necesitarán un lugar seguro para cuidarlos durante el trabajo. Nuestra comunidad puede ayudar mediante las “Escuelas solidarias” — organizadas y ejecutadas por los padres — en las iglesias, los centros recreativos o las bibliotecas, y también podemos arreglar el cuidado de niños dentro de nuestras casas (por ejemplo — yo puedo llevar a 5 niños dentro de mi casa el lunes y martes, tú puedes cuidarlos el miércoles, y otro padre puede hacerlo durante el resto de la semana).
  •         El sindicato de maestros está trabajando con las Bibliotecas Públicas de Oakland y los centros recreativos para asegurar que estos espacios estén disponibles, y luego nos darán más información. Estan hablando con iglesias a través de la ciudad, otra información que darán a los Equipos de la huelga. En Los Ángeles, los museos, el zoológico, y otros sitios para los niños organizaron eventos especiales durante la huelga — y le daremos más información si esto ocurra aquí en Oakland.
  •         Si Ud. tiene una conexión con una iglesia o un negocio que podría ayudar, preguntaselo directamente.
  •         OEA o maestros individuales pueden proveer un currículo, pero de la misma manera de los descansos normales, usted siempre puede agregar proyectos especiales, sitios de web educativos, y la multiplicación básica (o lo que sea adecuado para la edad).

Ayude con la adquisición o distribución de comida

  •         DSA East Bay está recolectando fondos para comprar y distribuir comida para estudiantes que dependen de los almuerzos escolares, mediante su campana de “Bread for Ed”
  •         Los padres pueden conectar su sitio de distribución si se ofrecen ser el coordinador de un sitio escolar — conéctese con su Líder del Equipo de Padres para inscribirse
  •         Más allá de eso, si Ud. tiene una conexión con un productor de comida, o un almacén o restaurante que tenga la voluntad de donar a su sitio escolar, trabaje con sus líderes del equipo para coordinar.

Cree un horario del piquete para los padres

  •         No solamente son los maestros protestando en el piquete, sino también deben juntarse los padres y los estudiantes. La participación de los padres y estudiantes enseñará al distrito que todos estamos unidos en apoyo de las peticiones de los maestros, y ayudará a motivar a los maestros en su lucha!
  •         Cree un horario del piquete para asegurar que esté un grupo grande de padres, estudiantes y otros partidarios en el piquete durante todo el día
  •         Si usted puede, sería una bendición traerles comida, agua o café a los maestros que estarán en el piquete durante todo el día

La tercera fase: ¿Qué ocurre durante una huelga?

Mantenga su hijo o hija FUERA DE LA ESCUELA durante toda la huelga!

Es la cosa más importante que Ud. puede hacer — solidaridad INVENCIBLE entre los maestros y los padres de OUSD es el elemento más importante para que la huelga sea exitosa. Además, los ingresos que perderá el distrito van a crear un estímulo para que proponga una oferta justa en cuanto al contrato laboral.

Unese con los maestros en el piquete, y traiga botanas!

Es importante que apoyamos a los maestros en la línea del piquete, y ellos necesitan comer!

Participe en las movilizaciones de la OEA, porque hay fuerza con más gente!

La OEA y los Padres Unidos le darán información sobre los eventos que van a suceder antes de y durante la huelga.

Si Ud. vive cerca de una escuela: ofrezca su hogar para que los maestros puedan usar el baño, llenar sus botellas de agua, cargar sus celulares, etc.

Tome fotos y compártelas en las redes sociales con el hashtag #Unite4OaklandKids y #OEA y agregue su escuela específica!

Nadie desea una huelga, incluso los maestros (quienes van a perder su sueldo), pero si nos unimos en solidaridad con nuestros maestros mientras luchan por un sueldo justo y condiciones mejores para los niños, podemos construir las Escuelas que los Estudiantes de Oakland Merecen!

A Guide for Parents and Guardians – Preparing for a possible Teacher Strike

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The teachers of the Oakland Education Association just took a momentous vote to authorize a strike if OUSD does not meet their demands, and with 84% of all Oakland teachers voting, 95% voted to authorize a strike. That does not mean that they will be on strike immediately, but it does mean that they could announce a strike any time after February 15th. We know from seeing what happened in Los Angeles that the key to a successful strike is for teachers and OUSD families to stay united. Here is a comprehensive list of things that parents and guardians can do to support our teachers now and during a strike.

Phase 1: How can we support our teachers right now?

Get Visible! Show your support for teachers

  • Sport one of these 8 1/2 x 11 signs in their car, home, business: We Stand with Teachers signs
  • While every parent will have to make their own decision about what they will do, and this will not be an easy decision for many parents, the single most supportive thing we can do as parents is keep our kids home in the event of a strike (more on this, and alternative childcare ideas below). One thing you can do is to use a supportive frame on their Facebook page as a signal to OUSD that you will keep your child home in the event of a strike in English or Spanish. You can then save the picture and upload it as your twitter and/or instagram profile pic!
  • A Sequoia parent is selling awesome t-shirts and hoodies in support of teachers, with the proceeds going to the strike assistance fund for teachers who ARE NOT BEING PAID during a strike, to give them some support if needed: www.hellaheartteachers.com

Get Talking! Spread the word with other parents and neighbors

  • Host a house party: One great way to spread the word is to host a house party for others to learn more. This could include neighbors, particularly if you/they live near a school. The host would be responsible to find about 10 attendees, provide light snacks and speak from a parent’s perspective. We have resources to help on that and may be able to find a teacher to come speak, depending on availability. Anyone interested in hosting/co-hosting or attending a house party can fill out this form put together by the East Bay DSA: House Party Interest Form
  • Talk to parents at your school! The strike will be most effective (and shortest) if 100% engaged parents do not cross the picket line in the event of a strike by keeping their children out of school. Don’t assume other parents know, be SURE they know! Teachers have put together answers to some frequently asked questions for parents here: Teachers Answer Parent Questions. (More information on how parents can address childcare during the strike below.)
  • Share information over school communication lines: many schools have yahoo groups or other communication platforms – use those to connect with parents and share important information supporting our teachers.
  • Get others involved – the education of children is something everyone cares about. Talk to your neighbors, retired folks and anyone else who you think might be interested in learning more about what teachers are asking for and how they can help.
  • Get Connected! Parents United will be updating our website and posting on Facebook and Twitter, so be sure to follow/like us for more info. You should also join the Facebook Group Oakland Parents Supporting Teachers to share information and ideas with other teacher-supporting parents, and invite others you know to also Stand with Oakland Teachers. This was a powerful organizing tool in the recent (and very successful) strike in Los Angeles! To get updates directly from OEA, send an email to StandWithOaklandTeachers@gmail.com and follow them on Facebook.

Get Political! Let elected officials know you stand with our teachers

  • Put pressure on the school board to settle a fair contract with our teachers. The board needs to know that parents will stand with teachers in the event of a strike, and that they will NOT send their kids to school. Every parent will need to make the best decision for their family, and there is more information on this below, but no kids means no money, and the District will take seriously that loss of funding.  Parents should send this message directly to the board members: in the event of a strike, my child will not attend school! Sample script and contact info here: Call the Board – I will not cross the Picket Line.

Get Generous! Donate to help our students and teachers in the event of a strike

  • “Bread for Ed” is a fundraising effort set up by the Democratic Socialists of America – East Bay to raise money to cover the costs of providing meals to those students who rely on school lunches for nutrition (and also will feed teachers on the picket line, in conjunction with other programs). Please donate if you can and share widely on Facebook, witter and via email. The link to donate is here.
  • Teacher fund: You can also donate to a Teacher assistance fund to help already underpaid teachers cope with the financial hardship created by a strike – cuz they don’t get paid!! The link to donate is here and share widely!

Phase 2: How do parents get “Strike Ready”?

Set up or join a school site Strike Organizing squad

  • Some school sites will already have started planning, and others will need a parent to take the lead. Check in with a teacher at your child’s school, if your school has had a meeting with teachers about the contract, they may already have a list of interested parents. If not, talk with other parents you know, set up a time to meet and invite other parents using your school’s communication platform and/or on Facebook
  • The important thing here is to share the load. Teachers will be busy teaching, preparing for a strike and ultimately on the picket line, so it is up to parents to organize. Form committees to cover tasks such as solidarity schools, food distribution, picket line staffing and teacher appreciations. Select one person to act as the Parent Strike Team Leader, to coordinate with the Teacher leader and the Union. 
  • Get started now! The strike could come anytime after February 15th, so the time is now!

Organize a “Solidarity School” or child-care co-op

  • It is critical that parents keep their kids out of school during the entirety of the strike, which we hope will mean a short-as-is-possible strike! We understand that this will be very difficult for many families, and every family will need to do what is best for them. We know that some people have flexible work schedules, family to help out and the ability to work from home, and if that is you, you should start thinking about what you will do with your own children. Definitely plan to have your child spend some time on the picket line with you – it means a lot to teachers and will help your children contextualize what is happening.
  • Not everyone will be able to have their kids with them and will need a safe place for their children while they work. As a community, we can help by organizing “Solidarity Schools” – parent organized, parent run – at local churches, rec centers or libraries, or by setting up shared childcare in our homes (i.e. – I take 5 kids in my home on Monday and Tuesday, you do on Wednesday and another parent the rest of the week).
  • The teachers union is working with the Oakland Public Libraries and Rec Centers to ensure that those spaces are open and available, and they will provide more information as they have it. They are also talking to churches across the city, and again, that information will be shared with Strike teams. In Los Angeles, museums, zoos and other child friendly locales organized special events during the strike – and we will keep you posted if that happens here in Oakland.
  • If you have a connection with a church or business that might be able to help, reach out to them directly.
  • OEA or individual teachers may be able to provide some curriculum, but just as with breaks during the year, you can always supplement with special projects, online education sites and good old fashioned times tables (or whatever is age appropriate!)

Help with food procurement and distribution

  • DSA East Bay is raising funds to buy and centrally or regionally distribute food for students who depend on school meals for nutrition through their “Bread for Ed” fundraiser
  • Parents can help connect their site to the distribution by volunteering to be the school site coordinator – connect with your Strike Team leaders to sign up
  • Beyond that, if you have a connection with a food producer or distributor, or grocery store or restaurant that might be willing to make donations to your site, work with your Strike squad leaders to coordinate.

Create a Picket-Line schedule for parents

  • It’s not just teachers on the picket line, parents and students should join as well. Having parents and students on the picket line will show the district that we are all united behind our teachers’ demands, and will help keep our teachers’ spirits up!
  • Create a picket line schedule to ensure that there are a significant group of parents, students and supporters on the line at all times
  • If you can, it is also nice to bring snacks or water/coffee/tea for teachers who will be on the line most of the day!

Phase 3: What happens during a strike?

Keep your child OUT OF SCHOOL for the entire duration of the strike! This is the single most important thing you can do – UNBREAKABLE solidarity between teachers and OUSD families is the single most important element for this strike to be successful. In addition, the loss of revenue it causes will be an important incentive to the District to come back to the table with a fair contract offer.

Join teachers on the picket line, and bring snacks! It is important to support teachers on the picket line, and teachers gotta eat!

Participate in rallies that OEA organizes, because there is strength in numbers!  OEA and Parents United will keep you posted on whatever events are planned leading up to and during a strike.

If you live near a school offer your home for teachers to use the bathroom, refill water bottles, charge phones, etc

Take pictures and post on social media with the hashtags #Unite4OaklandKids and #OEA and be sure to add your school site!

No one wants a strike, the teachers (who will be giving up their pay) least of all, but if we stand in solidarity with our teachers as they fight for fair pay and better learning conditions for kids, we will build the Schools our Oakland Students Deserve!

Parents United Endorses Clarissa Doutherd for School Board in District 4

This election, there is only one contested school board race (District 4), because the Directors in District 2 (Aimee Eng) and District 6 (Shanthi Gonzales) are running for re-election unopposed. In37837582_1868140883492147_8946067189920694272_n District 4, Director Nina Senn has decided not to run again, a courageous choice given the last decade of poor decision-making and misplaced priorities of our Board. OUSD kids need change, not more of the same. Director Senn’s decision means that we now have the opportunity to elect a dynamic new school board member who can bring policy-making and fiscal experience, along with a history of strong leadership and grassroots organizing to the board, and we are excited to endorse Clarissa Doutherd for the job.

OUSD parents, educators and students are only too aware that the district has had years of fiscal mismanagement which resulted in $50 million in budget reductions and cuts over the last two years, and a projected $60 million more to come in the next two. This mismanagement is not new; the 2013-14 Alameda County Grand Jury found year after year, the district has repeated errors that continue to threaten the education of its students. While progress seems to have been made with the required audits, the students of OUSD will continue to suffer until OUSD gets its financial house in order.”  (emphasis added) This, after OUSD was taken over by the state in 2003 and local control was restored in 2009. Oakland families know that this is a deeply rooted and long-standing problem that will take vision, determination and community support to resolve.

That is exactly why Parents United is endorsing Clarissa Doutherd for School Board in District 4. Clarissa has experience with fiduciary oversight and building strong organizations. As the Executive Director of Parent Voices Oakland (“PVO”), a non-profit organization advocating for early childhood education and affordable childcare, Clarissa has increased the organization’s budget by 1,100% while successfully winning legislation to help children and families.

According to Doutherd, the key to that growth was “smart investments and strong fiscal management,” along with an emphasis on investing in the community, which she says “runs counter to the idea that total austerity saves organizations.” She said her budgetary experiences at PVO have prepared her to handle the school district’s difficult fiscal situation. “I know how to balance a budget, I know how to read financial statements, I know how to deliver results through financial challenges and transition in organizations,” she said. (Oakland North, 9/28/2018)

Clarissa has advocated for early education at the local and state level for many years, working closely with our state legislative delegation: Senator Nancy Skinner and Assemblymen Rob Bonta and Tony Thurmond (who is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction). They have all endorsed Clarissa as the candidate most qualified to represent District 4.

I am proud to endorse Clarissa Doutherd for Oakland School Board District 4. In working closely with her on education issues at the State level, I have seen the strength of her leadership and her capacity to deliver results. Our community turns to her on the tough issues, and can count on her vision, integrity, and organizing skill to lead us into the future. She will fight to restore fiscal accountability and put kids and families first. Our schools are fundamental and every child deserves the opportunity to realize their dreams and meet their full potential– that’s why I support Clarissa Doutherd for the future of our public schools in Oakland. – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (Clarissa’s endorsement page)

They are not alone in supporting Clarissa, she has also been endorsed by the educators of  the Oakland Education Association, the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, the service employees of SEIU Local 1021, the East Bay Women’s Political Alliance, the Alameda Labor Council – which represents 135,000 working families in the county — and many more. In fact, Clarissa has received every major organizational endorsement to date (with the exception of  billionaire-backed GO Public Schools) from political, labor, parent and community organizations as the candidate best suited to meet the district’s fiscal challenges while truly putting students, families and educators at the center.

And that would be a new direction for the board. Parents, families and educators across the District have long decried the lack of participatory governing in OUSD, which has instead chosen a paternalistic, “we know what’s best” approach to governance. Clarissa is an OUSD parent – her son Xavier goes to Laurel Elementary School – but she is also, at heart, a parent organizer who works everyday in partnership with a myriad of stakeholders to create change, and that is what she will bring to OUSD’s board.

Doutherd is also campaigning on the promise of being a new type of voice on the school board. “It’s been sort of very top-down, and administrators and superintendents and the school board leadership telling community what they deserve and what should happen, rather than really working in partnership with the community,” Doutherd said. She says she will bring her leadership style—“collaborative, participatory, one that is really rooted and grounded in community leadership”—to the board. (Oakland North)

Clarissa understands that one of the most important keys to building strong and stable community schools is to retain good educators, and that is why she is supported by teachers, nurses and other represented staff members. OUSD has a teacher retention crisis that is negatively impacting our students. Educators are underpaid, under-supported and overworked, and after more than a year, still do not have a contract. Clarissa supports teachers as professionals and is committed to prioritizing a contract that allows them to live in Oakland and supports them so that they can focus on our students.

For all these reasons and more, Parents United proudly supports Clarissa Doutherd for District 4 School Board. It is time to move forward, not make the same choices that led us to this point. Clarissa’s collaborative leadership and dynamic energy and vision are a contrast to her opponent, long-time retired school board member and former interim superintendent Gary Yee. Dr Yee has dedicated his life to education in Oakland, and for that we have great appreciation. But Dr. Yee is also a big part of the long history of paternalistic, top down, “color inside the lines”  district leadership that overspent, underinvested and generally failed to institute strong fiscal policy in the District.  Our children need change, and we believe that that Clarissa Doutherd is the leader who will fight for them.

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What’s Really Going on With BP 6006?

As we have communicated previously, the school board is considering a policy put forth by Director Harris, Board Policy 6006 (previously called the “System of Schools Policy”), which we believe is intended to be the legislative embodiment of GO Public Schools’ 1Oakland campaign – a transfer of District resources to charter schools. Several board members have sought to assure us that that is NOT the intent of BP 6006, yet the Board is planning to vote on proposed changes to the language this Wednesday that will leave the door wide open for the transfer of OUSD facilities, revenue, and enrollment to the charter industry.

In an effort to take some members of the Board at their word that BP 6006 is actually an effort to assure excellent schools for ALL Oakland students, we have worked with a group of community allies to craft amendments to 6006.  It is our belief that whether the Board incorporates these common-sense amendments or not will tell us what’s really going on here: does the Board have the integrity to pass a policy that works toward accomplishing their stated goal, or are they using feel-good rhetoric to once again disguise their actual political intent.

Our letter to the Board is below, and our proposed changes to BP 6006 are here. Please take a moment to email the Board asking them to incorporate these changes into BP 6006 before they vote on Wednesday. You can find their emails here.

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