GO Public Schools has been operating for five years and its impact is being felt in every public school in the city. Providing leadership, information, education, and advocacy, our coalition is working to improve public education in Oakland.
Leadership to Advance Reform
In the 2012 school board elections, GO Public Schools and its community partners and allies backed three Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) school board candidates who aligned with our values: Jumoke Hinton-Hodge, James Harris, and Rosie Torres. All three won seats on the board. Additionally, the organization backed Measure J, a successful local bond to improve school facilities.
In the 2013-14 search for the next superintendent of schools, GO is facilitating community participation through a community survey and through events.
Two policy issues galvanized the GO network and led to our founding in 2009.
In 2008, the initial GO volunteer committee worked with Oakland Community Organizations to organize families, teachers, and principals to push back on the district's plans to close 10-17 schools with virtually no input from community. In response to our organizing, the Board decided not to close schools based on size, and, instead, to engage constituents about schools and district fiscal sustainability.
In January 2009, the Interim Superintendent announced a plan to pass nearly 100 percent of a $17 million budget cut on to school sites. GO worked with parents, teachers, and principals to recommend more than $17 million of cuts to the central office instead of programs and services directly serving children at schools. These recommendations were presented to the Board of Ed, who directed the Interim Superintendent to keep cuts as far from classrooms as possible. In the end, 75 percent of the 2009 midyear budget cut came from the central office.
GO has continued to advocate for policies and practices that increase opportunities for quality schools for Oakland families. We backed the All Kids Our Decisions campaign that led to the passage of the School Governance Policy in 2012. We supported the passage of a Quality Schools Development policy to hold all district schools, traditional and charter, to similar high standards of quality and processes of assessment and support, and to make it easier for diverse providers who demonstrate strong results to lead school turnaround. And we rallied to protect Results-Based Budgeting in 2013 to ensure that principals have the power to make decisions about how funds are used in their schools.
Information to Engage Community
The GO Public Schools Leadership Center connects Oaklanders to public education policy and decision-making via our online community, email and print newsletters, meetings and events for the community. More than 5,000 subscribers receive weekly email newsletters. Since 2009, our Board Agenda Watch newsletter has previewed and explained board meeting agendas, putting a spotlight on board activities and making board members more accountable to our community.
In the fall of 2011, GO provided the community with crucial information and updates about school closures and district restructuring, while working to ensure families and schools affected by the closures were effectively supported through the transition.
During the 2011-13 school years, GO played a key role in promoting participation in the implementation of OUSD's Thriving Students strategic plan via GO's information and events with district leaders for hundreds of community members.