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!

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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.

clarissa-xavier-sequoia-steps

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Read more about Clarissa Doutherd here.

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Volunteer on her website or on Facebook.

Contribute.

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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.

pups letter re 6006 image

It Matters Who (Doesn’t) Get Chosen

There is a lot of discussion in Oakland about Charter schools, we have 42 charter schools in Oakland (approved by both OUSD and the County Office of Education), and charter students represent 30% of all students enrolled district or charter schools, more than any other district in the state.  That heavy concentration comes with a cost – $57 million according to a recent ITPI report. But it’s not just about a dollar amount, it’s also about serving kids, all kids, regardless of what kind of services they might need. That is what a public school does.

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So we wondered, what would it look like if we compared the student populations of two schools that are co-located on one campus? It’s not always easy to find two schools, of the same grade levels, in the same neighborhood, but we have that “apples to apples” comparison in deep East Oakland, in a neighborhood that has suffered from generations of disinvestment and deep trauma. How would the students at these two high schools, one district, one charter, be the same, or different?

The District school is bigger, but not that big for a comprehensive high school – 860 compared to 420 for the Charter school. They both have about the same percentage of students receiving Free or Reduced Price Lunch, about 92%.  The District school serves twice as many Latinx as African-American students, with a sprinkling of other demographic groups, but not many. Why then is the Charter school in this same neighborhood made up of more than 90% Latinx but just 6.6% African-American students?

Oakland has many students that have very specialized needs, including special education, unhoused students, newcomers and English learners. These students need critical, and often more costly, services that a public school must provide, should provide in order to educate the whole child.  And in the case of our co-located schools, the District school has a larger percentage of these students in every single category.

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Special education: District school 14%, Charter school 9%; Unhoused students: District school 15.28%, Charter school 2.2%; English Learners: District school 43%, Charter school 28%; Newcomers: District school 32% (estimated from current enrollment information); Charter school 9%

 

The leader of a local Charter Advocacy group looked at this data and said:

This is who those schools house. Look at the dashboard for performance. I can 100% guarantee you that the charter outperforms across the board. It does. Especially with grad rates. You can make the argument that all of those district kids would be better served in the charter.


The point wasn’t about performance, it was about who is (or is not) being educated in those schools. Instead of acknowledging that, recognizing the impact on OUSD schools of concentrating the highest need students in the District, recognizing that outcomes can be stymied by the under-resourcing of schools this concentration causes, and looking for equitable solutions, this charter advocate, who is pushing for OUSD to share parcel taxes and rent-free facilities with Charter schools that pick and choose who they educate, this advocate says “but what about the test scores?”

What about serving all kids?

Let’s be very clear so there is no question: we believe strongly that OUSD must do better to improve outcomes for kids, and that is especially true for the kids in schools like this District school, who have been underserved for generations.  But we must also acknowledge that, for our district schools and the students in them, it matters who (doesn’t) get chosen by charters.

Data taken from the OUSDdata.org website, EdSource and the publicly available Charter School Profile 

Contact OUSD Directors: DON’T give away District facilities & funding to charter schools!

The Board will be considering a new Board Policy 6006 on Wednesday which will attempt to eliminate the distinction between District and Charter schools and give away resources, including facilities and funds, to charter schools. The idea is to create a “System of Schools” – a “hybrid” district made up of District schools and District-authorized charter schools – and streamline this System of Schools by:

  • closing or consolidating schools, and
  • reallocating “all OUSD resources, facilities, and assets” from closed/consolidated OUSD schools to this System of Schools, including charter schools.

The Board has very little power under California law to close charter schools (or prevent them from opening, for that matter) to suit this System of Schools. So, at its heart, this is a proposal to close district schools and redirect much needed funds from those District schools to charter schools. The District is already not properly exercising its statutorily required oversight of charter schools, and that failure has hurt district students and charter students alike. District schools have already been heavily impacted by mid-year budget cuts this year and last. Diverting more funds will devastate our District schools and students..

Parents United has written a letter to the Board requesting that they vote NO on this blatant land and money grab by the well-funded backers of charter schools in Oakland and across the country, you can read our letter below.
Join Parents United in opposition to proposed Board Policy 6006 by contacting your school board members TODAY (click for contact information) before this Wednesday’s board meeting. Tell the directors that you expect them to STAND UP for our schools and our students, exercise appropriate OVERSIGHT of charter schools to ensure they are serving all students, and VOTE NO on this blatant attempt to divert much needed resources from our District schools to privately managed and minimally accountable charter schools!

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Here is our letter to the Board:

Dear Directors,

This letter is written regarding proposed Board Policy 6006 put forth by Director Harris entitled “Quality School Development: System of Schools”. The policy is redundant, unenforceable and possibly illegal, and we urge you to vote No on this item.

Director Harris proposes seeking to regulate what he refers to as “OUSD’s hybrid system of schools” which is defined in a prior paragraph as being made up of 122 schools – 87 OUSD district-run schools and 35 OUSD authorized charter schools. Although Director Harris refers in the opening paragraph to Charters authorized by Alameda County, they are not included in the “hybrid” system of schools proposed in this Board Policy.

According to the proposed Policy, a “lack of guidance has left OUSD without a clear framework for 1) how OUSD-run and OUSD-authorized charter schools co-exist, 2) the total number of OUSD-run schools and OUSD-authorized charter schools, 3) the size of elementary, middle, high, and alternative schools, and 4) how schools are introduced to and eliminated from the OUSD system of schools.”

According to Director Harris, if the Superintendent creates a framework for the “reallocation of all OUSD resources, facilities and assets”, creates a decision-making matrix for determining how many and how big schools will be held in this “hybrid” system of schools and then acts “boldly” to expand, merge or close schools (District and charter), these actions will “increase the quality of education across both district and charter sectors and … provide the highest quality education at every school site in each Oakland neighborhood.”

Every child deserves a high quality education, and there are District and Charter schools that both achieve and fall short of that noble goal. The problem with Director Harris’ analysis, however, is that he overlooks the very critical fact that this Board cannot dictate to charter schools authorized by you (and certainly not to those authorized by the County or State) that they take any of the actions that the Board Policy seeks to compel, and therefore is misleading, meaningless and may possibly be in violation of the California Education Code sections 47600 et seq.

Director Harris declared just last year that we needed a “pause” in new charter schools to allow us to work through budget difficulties and the Blueprint process, but charters continue to seek approval (from the District, the County and/or the State) and district “partners” continue to develop new charters to present in the coming years. Even Director Harris has acknowledged there is really nothing that you as a Board can do to change that. The Board is also extremely limited in its ability (or willingness) to close charter schools, and that will continue to be true, even if you adopt this policy.

Board Policy 6005 entitled “Quality School Development” adopted in 2013 already provides that OUSD provides a “continuum of high quality schools” explicitly defined as “including schools that are directly operated by the OUSD; public charter schools authorized by the Oakland Unified School District; and schools funded by, but are not exclusively operated by the Oakland Unified School District.” This proposed Board Policy 6006 is duplicative and redundant to the Quality School Development Policy and is, as demonstrated above, unenforceable as proposed. It would also hurt our kids already suffering from mid-year budget cuts this year and last.

Instead of introducing vague policy that is unenforceable, double-down on your efforts to be a  better authorizer, giving the charter office the staffing and tools they need to adequately fulfill their oversight function and hold charter schools to the promises they make to the District and Oakland students. We encourage you to continue to work with our legislators to support common sense accountability measures and to expand your ability to be the only body empowered to determine where and when charter schools should open or close to best serve the needs of all Oakland students. We must ensure that charter schools are accessible to all, serve the needs of all, and are not excluding students with special needs.

We urge you to vote “NO” on proposed Board Policy 6006.

Parents United for Public Schools

Take Action to Help Return $6 Million a Year to OUSD!

Did you know that Oakland spends $6M a year on debt payments to the state? This is money that could be used to stabilize the district and put needed fiscal infrastructure in place.  Parents United has been working with the Free2Learn Committee — an ad hoc, grassroots, parent-led coalition working in partnership with community-based organizations — to ask our legislators to stand with Oakland. We ask that instead of continuing to take these funds out of Oakland, the state instead allow Oakland to invest these funds in specific ways that will improve fiscal accountability—and accountability to students, parents and community.

The Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) has pointed to key vulnerabilities in OUSD’s fiscal health and accountability.  We believe that our new superintendent and staff are working on addressing the issues raised—but this has resulted in deep cuts that are only hurting the district more.  Instead, our current loan payments of $6 million a year could be used to support long-term fiscal stability.  The Free2Learn Committee is setting up meetings with key legislators to discuss this strategy — but they need to know there is broad community support.  Our hope is that parents, community groups, district staff and legislative partners can use a small amount of the state’s current surplus to erase OUSD’s debt.

You can help by writing or calling your legislators today:

Tell them you want to stand with Oakland to ask that crippling debt payments be directed instead to key investments in fiscal accountability, and accountability to Oakland students, parents and community.

The suggested e-mail text is below:

Dear [Legislator Name],

During a time of state surplus, we respectfully ask you to stand with Oakland Parents to remove barriers that remain in our path towards fiscal vitality required for all students to succeed in Oakland!  We need support from the State through debt cancellation to fully implement the district’s Financial Stability Plan and Budget – which goes beyond the concerns outlined in the FCMAT report and are focused creating a culture of fiscal transparency and accountability.

I am writing to you as an Oakland parent who has seen first-hand the impact the crippling state debt and massive school cuts have had on my child and all vulnerable children in Oakland as schools report running out of paper, losing literacy coaches and other essential staff. We need to be able to protect and prioritize our kids from these draconian cuts.

Over the past year hundreds of parents have organized to demand financial accountability in the district and we’ve made incredible progress towards that end. I recognize that past OUSD leaders failed to ensure OUSD’s financial health with disastrous consequences – but we’ve turned over a new leaf, winning a new home-grown Superintendent with the demonstrated fiscal leadership needed to get us solvent once and for all.

Our new leaders are committed to and understand – putting a solid fiscal infrastructure in place – is the only way to permanently exit the cycle of mismanagement, crisis, and painful school site cuts that prevents funds from getting to the most vulnerable children who need those resources to learn and grow.

You can find more information about the #Free2Learn campaign here.

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.