"There's no better way to experience our city..."
June 4, 2012
In Latest News
By: Joe Ventura
For the past two Saturdays I've joined other GO Public Schools volunteers on a "Listening Campaign" throughout Oakland neighborhoods to gather information about the most pressing issues facing our public schools system and solicit ideas for addressing them. Walking with GO's team of volunteers has given me the great opportunity to see a new side to my adopted hometown, as well as scratched an itch I've felt to get more involved in supporting our students and their teachers.
Here are a few observations from my weekend foray into community organizing:
- Opening the door to Oakland. Despite what President Obama has done for the community organizer ethos, it's unlikely to be at the top of many jobseekers' most wanted lists. Exposed to the elements (granted, much better in Oakland than Chicago) and vulnerable to the (mostly justified) ire Oaklanders have for anyone standing on their porch with a clipboard, in reality community organizing can be quite a challenge. But, it's also immensely exciting for anyone with a love for this vibrant city. From the community gardens in District 1 to the alleyway neighborhoods tucked into District 3, there's no better way to experience our city than a walk with a purpose through its many diverse streets.
- Oaklanders care about our schools, and they want to be heard. On my first walk with GO, I hesitated in front of several porch stairs, contemplating whether the "No Peddlers or Solicitors" sign applied to me. After residents learn that I'm a) not asking for money, b) not trying to sell them anything, and c) want to know what they think, it's actually more challenging to break off conversations than to get them started. Oaklanders care about Oakland students (and their schools), and they've got plenty of thoughts on how to improve them. On my walks, I've met with journalists, janitors, retirees, and teachers, delighted to finally be asked their opinion on how to improve our schools. Just because they don't show up at monthly school board meetings doesn't mean they don't care about improving our students' educational opportunities.
- Your school board matters. The real goal of GO's listening campaign is to gather input from Oakland residents about challenges their neighborhood schools are facing in order to identify Oakland school board candidates ready and equipped to address them. I've learned a lot about the immense influence the school board has on how Oakland schools are run, and the need to advocate for candidates who are listening to parents, teachers, and their students. I'm a proud and consistent voter, but school board races rarely get my attention. This year, I'm heading into the voting booth prepared to give my vote for school board member the focus it deserves.
Do you have something to say about Oakland Public Schools? GO wants to hear from you. You can fill out the survey
volunteers have been sharing door-to-door here. Want to join me in a future neighborhood walk? Sign up here
Want to get involved with GO Public Schools work to improve Oakland schools? Contact Casey at email@example.com