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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Parents United Changes and Upcoming Events

Dear Oakland Parents & Caregivers:

We began as OUSD Parents United in 2014, when it became clear that OUSD’s priorities included paying exorbitant salaries to top administrators, but not paying classroom teachers enough to live on and raise their families in Oakland. OUSD’s priorities were off, and parents at dozens of schools – first at school sites, but soon working district-wide – collectively demanded that OUSD put the experiences of children first. Oakland parents began working across the district to help collect postcards, attend school board meetings, hold accountability meetings with school board members, and organize a 500 person march.
We are writing today to let you know about some organizational changes we are making based on the realization that Oakland parents and caregivers are still deeply unsatisfied with how the district is being run and we need to step-up our efforts to hold OUSD and our school board accountable.
There is a lot of work to do to change the direction of OUSD. Here are just a few of the most pressing items we need to work on:

  • Reduce Class Sizes: Teachers and students need small class sizes to increase teacher retention and student achievement. Class sizes are too big, while OUSD throws hundreds of thousands of dollars to no-bid contracts, creates new six-figure central office positions, and gives raises to top administrators.
  • Invest in Community Wrap-Around Schools: Until we increase investment and support in Oakland public schools that need them the most, the opportunity gap will continue to grow. We must invest in community wrap-around schools that address the systemic economic and social challenges that lead to struggling schools.
  • End the School-to-Prison Pipeline: The school-to-prison pipeline is real, and the increase of charter schools is making it worse for the most vulnerable children. We need to keep our students in school by increasing school site counselors, strengthening culturally-relevant community partnerships, and increasing teacher supports. We need to keep the police off of school campuses and institutionalize restorative justice practices at at every public school.
  • Stop the Decentralization of the Special Education Program: The process begun this year to massively overhaul SPED is neither clear to, nor inclusive of the people who know best what the Special Education program’s needs are: SPED families and staff.
  • Demand Board of Education Accountability to OUSD-Run Public Schools: The steady growth of charter schools in Oakland has contributed to the destabilization of our public schools in neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of poverty. We must elect school board members who are accountable to Oakland and not out-of-town billionaires and charter school lobbyists who fund their campaigns.

In order to move forward, our steering committee agrees that we need to make important changes as well.  We have heard and agree that – in order to continue to address these critical challenges facing our public schools – we must prioritize the voices of the parents, caregivers and students who are most impacted by OUSD’s misplaced priorities: those in low-income and working class communities of color. We are taking intentional steps toward building a multi-racial organization that reflects this town’s diverse families and communities, all of whom have a stake in democratically-run public schools in Oakland.
We have also changed our name to Parents United for Public Schools, to reflect our deep commitment to democratically-led PUBLIC education.
We are energized and excited about the work ahead, and hope that you are too, because there is much to be done. You may be wondering “What can I do?” Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Hands Off Oakland Public Schools: Next Wednesday, May 25th @5pm, join other Oakland parents, teachers and students on a family-friendly anti-gentrification tour and teach-in linking the corporate takeover of our public schools with the rapid gentrification of Oakland. Facebook event here: Hands Off Oakland Public Schools and more information on our website.
  2. Questioning Common Enrollment: Join us on May 31st at 6pm for “Questioning Common Enrollment in Oakland Schools: Lessons from Around the US and Abroad” – a panel discussion about the effects of common enrollment in Newark, New Orleans and other places from nationally-recognized education experts and OUSD Director Shanthi Gonzales. The event is at Race Forward (900 Alice Street, 3rd Floor). Please RSVP here and share widely!
  3. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and if someone forwarded this to you and you haven’t already, join our email list.
  4. Share this message with your friends and family who also care about public schools in Oakland so they can join us as well. Click here to forward to a friend.

We hope to see you soon!

– Parents United for Public Schools

Hands Off Oakland Public Schools! / ¡Manos fuera de las escuelas públicas de Oakland!

SOSD m25
Wednesday, May 25, 5pm
Kaiser Convention Center Parking Lot (10 10th Street)

(Para leer el español, vea abajo)

Hands off Oakland Public Schools

Wednesday May 25

Kaiser Convention Center Parking Lot

10 10th St

  • 5pm – T-shirt & sign-making
  • 5:30pm – Kid Zone & Rally
  • 5:45pm – Hands off tha Town! Anti-Gentrification Tour & Teach-in

Our Communities know what we need: To transform – not dismantle – Oakland public schools

Decisions are being made without the consent of participation of black & brown families and working-class communities. Join the Schools Oakland Students Deserve coalition to learn about the privatization and planned destabilization of OUSD run schools and how this is connected to gentrification in Oakland.

Schools Oakland Students Deserve is a people of color-led group of parents, teachers, students and community members working to stop the corporate takeover of OUSD. 

https://schoolsoaklandstudentsdeserve.wordpress.com

Follow us on twitter @takebackousd & fb @schoolsoaklandstudentsdeserve

Facebook event page is here:
____

¡Manos fuera de las escuelas públicas de Oakland!

 

Miércoles, 25 d mayo

Estacionamiento del Kaiser Convention Center (Centro Kaiser)

10 Calle 10, Oakland

  • 5:00 p.m. Artesania de camisetas y letreros
  • 5:30 p.m. Zona de niños y manifestación
  • 5:45 p.m. ¡Manos fuera de Oakland! Guia y lecciones contra la gentrificación

 

Nuestras Comunidades saben lo que necesitamos: Transformar – No desmontar – las escuelas públicas de Oakland

 

Se están tomando decisiones sin el consentimiento de participación de las familias Afro-Americanas y Latinas y comunidades de la clase obrera. Únese a la coalición de Escuelas que los Estudiantes de Oakland Merecen para aprender acerca de la privatización y la desestabilización planificada de escuelas dirigidas por OUSD y cómo esto está conectado a la gentrificación en Oakland.

La coalición de Escuelas que los Estudiantes de Oakland Merecen es un dirigido de personas de color siendo padres, maestros, estudiantes y miembros de la comunidad que trabajan para detener la adquisición corporativa de OUSD.

https://schoolsoaklandstudentsdeserve.wordpress.com

Nos puede seguir en twitter@takebackousd y facebook@schoolsoaklandstudentsdeserve