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Get out and vote -- for Alameda County Board of Education

-- April 14, 2016

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On the June 7th Presidential Primary, Oaklanders will finally get to decide if they're feeling the Bern or if they're ready for Hillary. But for many Oakland students, including our most disadvantaged, the election down the ballot is more important.

Every Oakland voter will get a say in one of the Alameda County Board of Education races. We have been vocal about the importance of the OUSD Board of Education, but county boards matter as well. 

The Alameda County Board of Education works with Alameda County Superintendent Karen Monroe to manage the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) and its $40 million budget. Much of that budget goes to serving students who would not otherwise receive adequate service from school districts.

In Oakland, the ACOE runs three community schools: one for students undergoing treatment for substance abuse, one for pregnant or parenting teens, and a third for students exiting juvenile detention. 

Additionally, the Alameda County Board of Education hears charter school appeals if a petition is denied at the local level. Through this process, the county currently authorizes seven charter schools located in Oakland.

As authorizers, the board is directly responsible for the education of the more than 2,200 students who attend these schools, nearly 5% of all Oakland public school students. 

In addition to the county office's direct education work, the Alameda County Board of Education reviews and signs off on every districts' budget and Local Control and Accountability Plan (or LCAP). At its best, this can be an important oversight measure to ensure that districts spend targeted Local Control Funding Formula money on the students for whom the money was intended.

The county office also handles Williams complaints, which can be filed against schools where students are without textbooks, facility conditions are dangerous, or where teachers are inappropriately assigned to their subjects. These measures enacted by the county all help ensure that school districts are working in the best interest of kids. 

This June, make the presidential primary vote the last one you fill out on your ballot. Start with the Alameda County Board of Education: it's a critical race for Oakland kids. 

Building on March's Momentum

-- March 10, 2016

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March is a pivotal month in every school year; and this March we're excited to spotlight just a few of the many ways our collective GO community is coming together and doing great work in service of students and families in Oakland.  

In particular, we're excited to share more about our:

      • "An Evening With The Mayors" event
      • The recent success of our parent leaders at New Highland
      • The inspiring work of our teacher policy fellows in search of solutions for Oakland's teacher recruitment and retention challenges.

Tuesday night, March 8 I had the privilege for the first time of being a part of a GO Public Schools Advocates event, An Evening with the Mayors and was blown away by the turnout and what it represented.

Over 250 dedicated Oakland students, families, educators, and community leaders came together to talk about the future of public education in our city and the critical role our school board elections play in creating and shaping that future.  

I don't think there's another community in the country rallying in early March around the importance of school board elections in November.

The room embodied the diversity and fierce resolve that makes Oakland so special, and the conversation with the mayors and among the guests focused on how we can and need to come together as a community to build that future together.

The night kicked off our efforts to fuel all the work that goes into bringing our community together to endorse and elect great school board members in November. 

Families Affecting Positive Change at New Highland
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Family leaders at New Highland have been coming together to create solutions for challenges -- big and small -- faced by their students. This year, they have been working hard to ensure that fifth graders are getting the appropriate amount of support necessary to meet their achievement goals in the midst of a long-term teacher vacancy. They've met with school leaders, district leaders, and their school board member regularly to address the issue and recently secured the resources to support eight-weeks of after-school math tutoring.  Learn more about their great work here.

Teacher Policy Fellows Exploring Solutions for Oakland's Teacher Recruitment & Retention Challenges

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I always say that I hope teaching is the hardest job I'll ever have had.  My years in the classroom were by far and away the most demanding and rewarding years of my professional life.  I offer that reflection because in that context that I have such deep admiration and gratitude for our Teacher Policy Fellows. Our fellows do whatever it takes every day in service of their students. In addition, they convene every two weeks in the evening to expand their impact beyond their classrooms and in service of teachers and students across Oakland.  Following their efforts as they engage thought-leaders locally and nationally with a solution's orientation has been nothing short of awesome.  Check out their work here.

Final Thoughts

There's a lot to be done over the next few months to finish this school year strong and to fuel the work leading up to November's big elections. 

Thanks for all that you do and looking forward to the work ahead together!

Much appreciated,

Recapping An Evening With The Mayors

-- March 9, 2016

What happens when a current, former, and future mayor discuss public education in Oakland?

What happens when 250+ students, parents, educators, and community leaders come together around public education in Oakland?

We leave inspired and fired up for the upcoming November school board elections.

There was plenty of energy at our March 8th event "An Evening With The Mayors" and that energy was key to its success.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Oakland High School junior and aspiring Oakland mayor Darius Aikens set the tone for our future work of electing great Oakland school board candidates.

The work to elect those great candidates starts now. And we need your leadership; please stay engaged and let's work together to get others involved.

As Darius said "Activism is important. Showing you care is important, and we must come together and work together."

Darius is an inspiration to us all. He is a young Oakland student not afraid to speak truths or ask the tough questions about what it takes to prepare more of our students for college and beyond.

Meet Ms. Bowen, recipient

-- January 13, 2016

Meet Ms. Bowen, 5th Grade teacher at Encompass Academy and a recipient

How did you become a teacher?

"My parents always said they knew I would be a teacher. But, I had no idea. I coached gymnastics growing up and liked being around kids, but I majored in Economics and History in College. I joined the Peace Corps after college and got hooked on teaching after helping kids in Mali paint giant map murals."

Ms. Bowen's 5th Grade class at Encompass Academy

Why atlases for your project?

"As a kid, I remember going through my dad's atlases and getting excited by all the different countries and cultures. I also remember watching Indiana Jones and getting excited by Petra and wanting to find Jordan on a map.
I have 31 students and 30 of them have parents that were born in a different country. I have kids from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Yemen, Samoa, and Azerbaijan. My kids are from such different cultures and that is not always shared in our class as much. So, I wanted to find a way to start with the basics. Every morning we are going to do a warm up (with the atlases) starting with the basics like what color are rivers on maps or what does border mean, and move to things like what countries border Turkey." 

This was Ms. Bowen's first project on and with the help of the Oakland community, it was funded in less than an hour. To read more about Ms. Bowen's atlas project, please click here.

The collective support of the Oakland community helped us reach our $25,000 match offer in less than two weeks.

Close to 100 projects from 60 teachers representing 36 schools. The generosity shown will impact over 8,400 public school students in Oakland. 

Wish you and your family a Happy Holiday!

-- December 18, 2015

As a supporter of GO, you are part of a special community of champions for students and believers in a future where all families have access to quality schools in their neighborhood.

We would be grateful if you would consider GO as you make your end-of year charitable contributions.

Thanks to you, today in Oakland, our children have access to some of the world's most innovative learning experiences and environments. Educators and families are working to transform our lowest-performing schools and to build college prep, career pathways in our secondary schools.

Oakland teachers have a progressive new contract and received one of the largest raises of any district in the region in 2015. Together, Oakland educators -- across both district-run and charter public schools -- are trailblazing new programs and practices to prepare our children to thrive in this new century.

Right now, as families consider school options for next year, GO's school enrollment map is the most comprehensive resource in the city, bringing together program and performance data, school tour dates, and application deadlines across district-run and charter schools.

This holiday season, GO raised funding to partner with and match contributions to Oakland teachers' projects -- bringing thousands of dollars directly to students and classrooms. 

None of this work would be possible without your generosity and support.
As we prepare to set aside our work for the holidays and recharge for the year ahead, we are so grateful for the opportunities we have to work in partnership with committed and brilliant allies and supporters -- like you. 

We are so excited for 2016! We will have the opportunity to deepen our work in Oakland AND we're moving forward in partnership with local leaders to launch GO Public Schools West Contra Costa. GO is growing and we are so grateful for your support every step of the way!

Thank you for your investment in our team and network of equity-focused, future-oriented leaders.

Wishing you and yours a peaceful and joyful season.

Oakland Public School Enrollment Map

-- November 14, 2015


Oakland's public school enrollment season for the 2016-2017 school year has begun with several schools having already hosted school tours and open houses for perspective families. To assists families through the process, we have developed a public school enrollment map that includes the dates and times of tours.

We have included the schools tours and open houses that we know about and will continue to add to the map. The map also includes:

  • School addresses
  • Principals
  • Websites
  • School data on math, reading, suspension and absence rates, and other programs (Linked Learning, Special Education, and Early Childhood Education).
  • Elementary schools are green, Middle Schools are light green, high schools are orange, K-8 are blue, K-12 are yellow, 6-12 are light blue, alternative schools are dark blue.

We have also created a timeline of the enrollment process that can be found below. NoteDates apply to district run schools, so call each charter operator to find out dates and deadline for its application process.


Uncovering Geniuses

-- October 22, 2015

For the past three years, Brandon Nicholson and his crew have been helping young black males throughout Oakland uncover their Hidden Genius. On Wednesday, thanks to public support, the Hidden Genius Project was one of six nonprofits awarded a $500,000 grant from Google after finishing in the top four of the Google Impact Challenge.

Founded in 2012, the Hidden Genius Project connects underserved young black males with the education, mentors, and skills to become the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and technologists.

The Hidden Genius Project was selected from a pool of 800 applicants to serve as one of the 15 Bay Area finalists and after a three-week voting period received enough public votes to secure one of the $500,000 grants, which it will use to launch a multi-year program to train an additional 100 men. 

Quick facts about the Hidden Genius Project:

  • Has served 350, including 18,000-plus hours of direct service to black youth
  • Offers two different programs
    • Immersion, free 15-month tech boot camp
    • Catalyst Workshop, free single and multiday tech-based sessions
  • Serves students ages 11-17 or grades 9th-12th
  • Founding executive director, Brandon Nicholson is a board member for GO Public Schools

Available Now: Oakland Achieves Third Annual Public Education Progress Report

September 22, 2015

"It is going to take all of us going deeper into our work and being more uncomfortable. To meet our goals, it is going to take all the people in this room working together and being willing to go beyond comfortable.

"We must sprint when it comes to urban education and we must go fast and far. And if you remember one thing from today, remember this 'Every student (in Oakland) thrives.'"

Antwan Wilson, Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District,
 at the Oakland Achieves Third Annual Public Education Progress Report release.

In a packed room with some of Oakland's top educational leaders, the Oakland Achieves Partnership released its Third Annual Public Education Progress Report on Tuesday, September, 22, 2015 at the Waterfront Hotel.

The report reviews a full range of data on Oakland student outcomes from cradle to career. Wherever possible, it includes data from district-operated schools and charter schools. The data includes several indicators, including kindergarten readiness and Financial Aid Form completion.

Now educators, parents, and others can see at a glance how Oakland students and schools are doing. Our goal is that leaders and advocates will use this data to come together and focus energy and investments where they're needed to make opportunity a reality for every public school student.

This year's report showed declines in chronic absences and suspensions and gains in kindergarten readiness for low-income preschoolers in district-run schools. The progress report also showed challenges in the area of reading and math proficiency, particular for African American and Latino students and dips in graduation rates and  college readiness rates.

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GO Public Schools board member Brian Stanley honored

- May 20, 2015

Brian Stanley, a GO board member and the executive director of the Oakland Public Education Foundation, was recognized May 12th as a 50 Fund Playmaker and received a $10,000 grant from the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.
Stanley and the Oakland Public Education Fund were honored for their work with Oakland public schools and their students.
In the 2012-13 school year, the Oakland Public Education Fund's Elementary Literacy Collaborative saw 97 percent of participants reach reading proficiency after entering the program significantly below grade level.
Stanley was the 11th playmaker selected from throughout the Bay Area non profit community and is one of 50 selected over the 38 weeks. To read more information on Stanley and the Oakland Public Education Foundation and to view the video on Stanley click here.
The Super Bowl 50 Host Committee is charged with providing a unique experience surrounding the game on Feb. 7, 2016. The 50 Fund Playmaker is charged with making Super Bowl 50 "the most philanthropic and giving Super Bowl ever."

Looking Back on 2014

December 2014

Impact Header Photo.jpg This year has been very memorable for Oakland students, families and educators. 

We hired a new Superintendent.
We elected new school board leaders and passed Measure N.

And much, much more.

Over this past year, Great Oakland Public Schools and our affiliated GO Public Schools Leadership Center have also achieved numerous successes in our core campaigns, working with partners to leverage systems changes to move our public schools forward.

We're taking a look back here. On this page you will find:

  • Stories of Impact: GO Community Leaders in Action

  • A timeline of key Oakland public education events and news from the year

  • Photos of the year


Stories of Impact

People in the GO Network are impacting students' lives daily. Click here to read stories about teachers, parents and students making an impact working with GO in 2014.


2014: The Year in Oakland Education

Scroll through the timeline to look back on key events from 2014. Click on a date to view in greater detail, read a description and click on a link to read more. View the 2014 Year in Oakland Education in Dipity for a full-screen view.

2014 Year in Oakland Education on Dipity.


Photos of the Year

A look back at the people and moments from GO events in 2014. Click play to view an automatic slideshow with music, or use left and right arrows to view photos manually. 


Stay Teaching: Attracting and Keeping Great Teachers in Oakland Classrooms

October 9, 2014

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The GO Teacher Policy Fellows are excited to announce the launch of our new website, Stay Teaching

The GO Teacher Policy Fellows believe that students deserve a high-quality education, and in order to provide it, schools need to attract and retain excellent teachers. And those excellent teachers should absolutely have a say in education policy that affects both working conditions and student outcomes.

This website is produced by Oakland teachers. We plan to write posts that combine research and the first-hand knowledge of teachers, curate news that impacts the classroom, highlight important research and shine a spotlight on best practices of teachers making a difference in the lives of students. Our goal is to increase teacher leadership opportunities and ensure Oakland teachers have a voice in crafting policy.

Check out the first couple posts, "Thinking Beyond Bad Teachers" and "Ten Reasons to Stay Teaching in Oakland" and let us know what you think!

Enrollment Options Process Tools and Resources

November 2014

It's time for families to act if they are planning to send their children to a new school next year. Oakland Unified district and charter schools start accepting applications for next year in the first week in December. This is known as the open enrollment "options" process. 

We have compiled resources for families to better understand this process for all Oakland public schools: 
  • An infographic that details the process and timeline step-by step
  • A map of every public school in Oakland with information on how to attend a school tour or open house for each school
  • Links to information provided by OUSD, including the paperwork you'll need to register your child.

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Follow the step-by-step process of the open enrollment options process:


School Tours Map
This map provides information about tours, open houses, application processes, and contact information for all Oakland public schools. 

Schools are color coded by grade levels -- for example, district and charter elementary schools are RED

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OPEN THE MAP IN A NEW WINDOW to see a list of all Oakland schools by grade level. Click on the map where the green arrow indicates in he figure to the left. 

Click on an icon or a school name for information on how to visit that school and any upcoming tours or open houses. 

Have information or updates not on this map? Please email Ryan Phillips at

Looking for preschool information? 
  • Visit the Early Oakland site for a map of affordable early care and education services.
  • Transitional Kindergarten: A bridge between preschool and kindergarten, Transitional Kindergarten (TK) is part of the public school system and free to students to help them prepare for success in school. For the 2015-16 school year, parents of students who turn 5 between September 2 and December 2 have priority to register for TK. Children with earlier birthdays may attend TK once all children with November, October, and September fifth birthdays are served. 

Enrollment Resources

The New Plan for Oakland Public Schools

November 19, 2014

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

In his first four months, Oakland's new Superintendent of Schools Antwan Wilson has listened to educators and families, brought in new leadership, and developed a strategy for long-term improvement.

Now, this week he has published an updated plan, "Pathway to Excellence 2015-20," and will share it with community Wednesday evening at the regular school board meeting. This is a big moment.

Our network of parents, educators, and community organizations is excited to engage and ready to support a plan that aims to provide a quality school for every child in the city sooner rather than later. As the Superintendent writes in his introduction to the plan:

"Our collective and unified voice will always be more powerful than our individual efforts. We can no longer pit one faction against another or elevate adult concerns above student needs."

We agree and will be at the meeting with parent leaders who want to know how the plan will affect their schools and their children's opportunities, and how they can support positive change. We'll be live tweeting the event so you can follow along, and we'll report on what happened in our newsletter next week, including responses to the plan by parents, educators, and other leaders.

The Superintendent's plan focuses on three priority areas:
  • Effective Talent Programs
  • Accountable School District
  • Quality Community Schools

New Oakland Mayor Schaaf's Plans for Education

November 12, 2014

GO Public Schools congratulates Oakland's newly-elected mayor, Libby Schaaf. We look forward to working with our new mayor to ensure all students have access to a quality education that prepares them to fully participate in the 21st century community and economy.

Education Policy Paper

In her campaign, Mayor-elect Schaaf showed a commitment to taking on difficult and complex education issues that greatly affect Oakland youth. She holds an ambitious and inspiring vision of Oakland as a center of innovation and excellence in public schools. 

Mayor-elect Schaaf published a nine-page education policy paper on her website, and here are some of the highlights:

Improve access to early childhood education programs:
"Within my first year, we will convene leaders of relevant city, county, and school district agencies, and community-based organizations for a first annual "Early Oakland" summit to align actions to ensure that all subsidized slots are filled in the city, that quality in those classrooms continues to improve, and that we add more access to high quality care as new funding opportunities emerge."

Focus on quality, collaboration, equity and growing what works:
"Oakland has tremendous potential to and must become a student-outcomes oriented center for excellence, equity and innovation in education. As Mayor, I will be more concerned about whether a school or program is high quality and accessible to our highest need children, than about who governs it or manages it -- school district or public charter school, city or school district early childhood program, nonprofit organization or government agency. My focus will be on quality and collaboration, growing what works and equity across our schools."

Within her first 100 days of office: 
"I will appoint a cabinet-level leader ... who will publish an annual work plan for 1) coordinating the work of city agencies to implement my education priorities, and 2) partnering with other agencies ... to support students and public schools."

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Schaaf's Five Priorities to ensure quality education for all Oakland students are:

  • Expand access to high-quality early education for all children and combat early truancy.
  • Expand student access to personalized learning and technology.
  • Strengthen and expand pathways to college and career.
  • Develop restorative practices for youth across city agencies.
  • Make Oakland Teacher Town, USA.

You can read the entire plan here.


In October, Schaaf was one of the six leading mayoral candidates who attended the GO forum on education issues in the 2014 election. Candidates answered questions about early childhood education, supporting teachers, Linked Learning, and technology. Click on a topic below for Schaaf's answers. You can watch videos of all of the candidates' answers here.  

Big Victories for Oakland Students

November 5, 2014

Yesterday's elections brought great news for Oakland students with the passage of Measure N and the likely election of two school board candidates endorsed by the GO Public Schools network: Aimee Eng, elected in District 2, and Nina Senn, leading in District 4 as absentee ballots are being counted.

Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard on these campaigns! These victories will have a tremendous positive impact on students. And the many conversations between volunteers and voters have made our city more informed about and focused on our schools.

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Over the last few months, GO hosted over 200 volunteers, including dozens of Oakland high school and college students, to contact tens of thousands of Oakland voters about Measure N and school board candidates. Measure N passed resoundingly with over 75 percent Yes votes. This will provide over $12 million a year for college readiness programs, a clear victory for investing in high quality education in our city. 

I was especially inspired by the over 100 people who volunteered to help get out the vote, walking all over the city last weekend and on election day handing out literature and talking to voters. The voting is over but the work goes on to build an informed, engaged community of advocates for quality education. Many new leaders have emerged through this effort.

In District Six, GO's endorsed candidate Renato Almanzor was defeated by Shanthi Gonzalez. We deeply appreciate the many volunteers who contributed their time to campaign for Renato. We congratulate Shanthi on her win and look forward to working with her and the rest of the school board to to ensure that every child in our city has access to a quality school.

In the coming weeks, we will provide more information about the opportunities ahead for our newly composed school board.

Look Who's Supporting Measure N

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Measure N will provide more funding for every high school student in Oakland. Simply put, we all know our schools desperately need this money. California ranks at the bottom nationally in per pupil funding. 

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That's why Measure N is endorsed by a long list of educators, community leaders, and elected officials. Measure N is also supported by:
  • The Oakland Tribune and East Bay Express.
  • The League of Women Voters - Oakland.
  • The Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.
  • Local labor unions that represent school workers.
  • The Alameda County Democratic Party.
  • Each of the top seven Mayoral candidates.
  • Every School Board candidate. 
Click here to read the complete list. It's long, so prepare to scroll!

Want an example of how students' lives are changed by the College and Career Readiness programs that Measure N funding will support? Oakland North recently ran a great story. Angel Yañez and Kemish Rosales were students at Fremont High's media academy:

"And now, three years later, both of them are college students who landed their first real jobs as computer technician assistants thanks to that experience." Read the story here.

Measure N will increase access to these kinds of programs for every high school student in Oakland. It will increase the graduation rates and allow more students the fair opportunity they deserve to be successful in college and career.

Please join us in voting YES on N!

2014 Mayoral Forum on Education Issues

October 20, 2014

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Great Oakland Public Schools hosted a forum on key Oakland education issues in the 2014 general election on October 16, 2014. Each of the leading seven candidates for mayor were invited to the forum and six attended.

Here you'll find video of each candidate's answer to each of the four questions they were asked as well as video of their introduction. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order after the Mayor Elect.

The questions were:

  • Early Childhood:  What are the top ways that your administration will help ensure that families have access to quality child care, summer learning opportunities, and other enrichment opportunities?

  • Technology: What will you specifically do to make sure all of Oakland's residents, including students, are connected to the Internet and have the tools and education to be full participants, including being ready for the jobs that are coming?

  • Supporting Teachers:  In what ways can you, as mayor, help support the recruitment, training, and retention of Oakland's teachers?

  • Linked Learning: How will your administration help support the Career Pathways initiatives that Measure N helps funds - either through direct city action or building public/private partnerships?


Libby Schaaf (Mayor Elect)

Bryan Parker

Jean Quan

Courtney Ruby

Dan Siegel

Joe Tuman

What Inspires You?

GO volunteers are pretty amazing. Every weeknight, our office is filled with the voices of committed educators, parents and community members talking to voters about the need to elect great school board leaders for students. On weekends, we're all out knocking on doors in Oakland neighborhoods. I am inspired.

We're building momentum, and now's the time to join us. Election Day is less than three weeks away. School board members represent specific districts but they make decisions that affect every school in the city. This moment is a rare opportunity to change the future of Oakland.

Click here to knock on doors or phone bank for great school board leaders.

I want to share a video I recorded of volunteers talking about why they are inspired to give a few hours to make a big difference in our schools. 

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What inspires you to work for positive change in our schools? We'd love to hear, and we hope you'll join us! 

What Oakland Students have to say about Measure N

Measure N, which will bring approximately $1,000 per secondary student to support College & Career Pathways, is endorsed by GO Public Schools, the League of Women Voters, the Democratic Party, and a long list of educators, community organizations and leaders.  

What matters most, though, is the impact on Oakland youth. 

Here is the perspective of two OUSD Linked Learning program graduates, Hezekiah J. Burton and Davy Lillian Loch.

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Hezekiah J. Burton
A graduate of Skyline High's Computer Academy, Hezekiah Burton is currently at UC Berkeley and considering either a pre-med or business track. He said no matter what kind of degree he pursues, he's going to be successful. 

"I'm going to use those skills with computers and technology to my advantage. I feel like I'll be able to thrive and feel comfortable in any work environment. I'll be able to perform my tasks and be competitive after I graduate and go on to the job market and land a solid career."

"I highly hope people vote for Measure N. As a product of OUSD in UC Berkeley now, I can say that it works." 

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Davy Lillian Loch
After graduating from LIFE Academy's Health and Bioscience Academy, Davy Lillian Loch is now a student at Merritt College. While at LIFE, she participated in the medical assisting program. She interned at both Children's Hospital and Highland Hospital, and--as a high school student--witnessed brain surgery, pediatric surgery, and a live birth. 

"I'm doing medical assisting now and after that I'll be doing my hours for nursing," she said. "From there you can go anywhere you want to, which is amazing."

"Some students don't have the same opportunities, some can't afford to go to college ... With Measure N, they can have more opportunities to go to whatever college they choose."

Measure N is good for students and good for Oakland. Vote YES on N!

Learn More
Check out these videos from the school district about Linked Learning career pathway academies, produced by the Media Enterprise Alliance academy at MetWest High School. 

Do you know Renato?

October 9, 2014

To the GO Public Schools Network:

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We have known Renato Almanzor for over ten years as teachers and principals who worked with him to improve Oakland schools. He is exceptionally skilled at helping people understand what our students need to achieve academic success.

Renato is unique. He is not only a passionate community leader with deep experience in education. He has also experienced the challenges of being a parent - a single father - and advocating for his son and his peers as a volunteer school leader. Renato will be a tremendous asset to the Oakland School Board. Please do what you can to support his campaign.

David Silver - Founding Principal, Think College Now Elementary; Former Asst. Principal, Lockwood Elementary; CEO, College Track*
Angela Aquino Silver - Former Principal, Cleveland Elementary School; Former Asst. Principal, Lincoln Elementary; Instructor in Graduate Education at Mills College*
*titles for identification purposes only

What a powerful endorsement. 

We don't need "leaders like Renato" on the school board. We need Renato on the school board. He is a unique leader we cannot afford to pass up for our students.

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When voters hear about Renato's experience, they want to support him. The challenge is getting the word out. Most people just don't know about school board elections. But so much is at stake for our schools, our students and families, and our city. 

Click here to sign up to phone bank or walk for Renato.

Click here to donate to support our campaign for Renato.

Help us get the word out about Renato. It will be the one of the best things you can do for Oakland this year.

Come hear what mayoral candidates can do for education

Mayoral candidates frequently mention education in speeches about what they would accomplish if they are voted into office. While the mayor of Oakland has no direct oversight of the school district, the office can contribute to our public schools.

What specific actions would candidates take to improve public school experiences and outcomes for our children and families? As education voters, we want to know.

Join us for Education in the Oakland Elections, a free event hosted by Great Oakland Public Schools, to hear from mayoral candidates about their plans for education, and learn about other education races and initiatives.

Register here

When: Thursday, October 16th from 6 - 8 PM
Where: The Waterfront Hotel Regatta Room, 473 Water Street Oakland 94607
Reception to follow at GO Public Schools offices across the street.

Attendees will:

  • Hear first-hand from mayoral candidates about their education platforms.
  • Get a student perspective on Measure N: College and Career Access for All.
  • Learn more about the school board candidates endorsed by GO Public Schools.
Mayoral candidates will be asked questions by community members about key education issues that City Hall can influence. Topics may include preschool, summer recreation and academics, public libraries and schools, partnerships for student career pathways-based learning, and school safety.

After the event, join us for a reception at the GO Public Schools office, just steps away from the Waterfront Hotel. 

You can register on the event site here.

2014 Policy Platform

October 6, 2014

We must invest in strategies and initiatives to improve student outcomes. Check out this infographic of GO Public Schools' 2014 policy platform - short and long-term goals to improve Oakland's public schools. Our students deserve education champions willing to stand up for them. They cannot wait.

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GO Endorses Four Candidates for Oakland School Board

September 15, 2014

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Great Oakland Public Schools (GO), a nonprofit network of educators, families and community leaders, has endorsed four candidates for the Oakland Unified School District Board of Education in the November 4, 2014 general election.

The endorsed candidates are:

GO's Board of Directors made the endorsements after a comprehensive process of gathering feedback from over 100 teachers, parents, and other community members and thoroughly reviewing the qualifications and positions of each candidate. GO hosted candidate forums where they fielded questions from community members, and surveyed candidates on their platforms and experience. 

"Aimee, Nina, Saleem, and Renato are thoughtful advocates for Oakland students and longtime community members," said Mary Prime-Lawrence, OUSD middle school teacher, parent of three Oakland public schools students, and Vice President of the GO Board. "All these very strong candidates will bring valuable skills and perspectives to our school board."

GO's dual endorsement in District 4 provides two strong top choices for voters in the election's ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank up to three candidates when marking their ballots.

GO Public Schools is conducting field campaigns to support endorsed candidates. These four endorsements will mobilize hundreds of volunteers to contact voters about the candidates. In 2012, GO endorsed three candidates in the Oakland school board elections and each won their race.  

How you can support these candidates:

Candidate Profiles

District 2 - Aimee Eng 

Aimee Eng, a fifth-generation Oaklander and the granddaughter of Oakland's first Asian-American elected official, has devoted her professional career to expanding educational opportunity for children in the East Bay. As the Senior Program Officer at the Thomas J. Long Foundation, Ms. Eng manages a $30 million education initiative to improve student outcomes. She has direct experience working with programs related to many of Oakland's most critical issues, including college readiness and access, early childhood education, and chronic absenteeism. 

"Aimee has shown true dedication to Oakland's students," said Alexandra Bernadotte, founder of award-winning education nonprofit Beyond 12 and Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center Board Member. "She has worked throughout her career to engage parents, teachers, and school communities in bringing new resources and powerful innovations to Oakland schools. Aimee is a strong, creative, and committed leader who will work hard to bring the solutions our schools need and to make them a reality."

To learn more about Aimee Eng, please visit her candidate page.

District 4 - Nina Senn and Saleem Shakir-Gilmore

David Stein, President of GO's Board of Directors, is proud to endorse two such strong advocates for students.

"I am impressed by both Nina's and Saleem's integrity and leadership," Stein said. "Both bring perspective as parents and advocates. Saleem will bring a deep understanding of what it takes to make systems-level change for all students. As a professional mediator, Nina knows how to listen and help people figure out fair and productive ways to move forward. I'm confident that these two candidates should be the top two selections in the ranked-choice ballot this year."

Nina Senn's work as a mediator involves bringing together parties facing difficult issues and helping them navigate towards win-win solutions. Over the past seven years, she has volunteered with Oakland schools to institute Restorative Justice programs. These programs support teachers in building community and help students to resolve conflicts productively. As  the former board president of SEEDS Community Resolution Center, she helped others learn how to affect positive change in diverse communities and challenging environments. Ms. Senn is a small business owner who opened her own dispute resolution practice in Oakland earlier this year.

Andreas Cluver, District 4 parent and secretary-treasurer of the Oakland Building & Construction Trades Council, believes Nina will bring a strong combination of personal experience and professional expertise to our school board. 

"Nina has a thorough understanding of our schools through her work as a parent leader," Cluver said. "She has financial know-how and a deep understanding of how to build consensus. I'm confident that her skill set will be an important addition to the board to get great things done for Oakland kids."

"We are proud to endorse Nina for School Board in District 4," said Jonathan Klein, Executive Director of Great Oakland Public Schools. "Building on her experience as a mediator, community leader and her direct perspective as a public school parent, she will bring a collaborative approach and a strong commitment to quality education for students across the city to the Board."

Saleem Shakir-Gilmore is an Oakland native and parent, and has had a long career in education marked by a deep dedication to Oakland youth. Saleem taught middle school science, served as Executive Director of a youth development organization, and was a faculty member in the education department at Holy Names University. In recognition of his expertise and commitment, Mr. Shakir-Gilmore was appointed as the Chair of the Measure G Oversight Committee, which is charged with overseeing over $20 million for retaining great teachers, reducing class sizes, and maintaining libraries. Mr. Shakir-Gilmore is currently a site manager at the W. Haywood Burns Institute, which focuses on improving the juvenile justice system through community-based, restorative practices. 

"Saleem has consistently shown high character and dedication to Oakland students," said Sheilagh Polk, an Oakland parent, nonprofit leader and GO Public Schools Board Member. "He has the leadership qualities, expertise and unique understanding of our community that our School Board needs."

"Saleem has shown throughout his career that he is a strong advocate for children across the city, and is focused on bringing resources to our most vulnerable children," said Jonathan Klein, Executive Director of Great Oakland Public Schools. "His perspective and skills would be a very valuable addition to the School Board."

To learn more about Ms. Senn and Mr. Shakir-Gilmore, please visit their candidate page.

District 6 - Renato Almanzor

The proud parent of a Skyline High graduate, Dr. Renato Almanzor has been active in the Oakland education community for over 15 years. Dr. Almanzor's deep experience includes serving on school site councils at Oakland elementary, middle, and high schools; teaching as a professor in CSU East Bay's educational leadership for social justice doctoral program; coaching Oakland principals and teachers on how to improve schools; leading community engagement programs at Oakland Unified School School District as the Director of Family & Community Office; and training Bay Area nonprofit leaders in organizational development. 

Parents and educators on the GO Board of Directors applauded the decision to endorse Dr. Almanzor.

"As an Oakland principal, I know first hand both the potential and challenges involved in building strong schools," said Carmelita Reyes, principal of Oakland International High and a GO Board member. "I am confident that Renato has the drive, leadership, and skills to effectively serve our students."

To learn more about Renato Almanzor, please visit his candidate page

YES on N: College and Career for All!

September 11, 2014
Updated: November 12, 2014

College and Career Pathways (also known as "Linked Learning") ignite high school students' passions by creating meaningful learning experiences through career-oriented coursework in fields such as engineering, health care, performing arts, law, and more. When students love what they're learning, they work harder, dream bigger, and learn more. 

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Right now, only a small portion of high school students have access to career pathways. This fall, Oakland voters passed with a healthy majority of 75 percent the Measure N: College and Career Readiness for All

This measure, endorsed by the Oakland School Board, hundreds of local leaders, and GO Public Schools, will expand these proven programs to every high school student in the city.

These proven pathway programs have a track record of increasing college and career readiness and reducing dropout rates by integrating learning with real world careers, a rigorous pre-college curriculum, and mentoring, internships, and other supports. 

How will Measure N work? 
Measure N is a $120 school parcel tax. Low-income residents and senior citizens are exempt. 90 percent of the funds (over $12 million a year estimated, or $1,000 per student) goes directly to school sites on a per pupil basis. (More information available here in the OUSD school board resolution.)

High schools, based on their specific needs, would create a plan to place all students in high-performing career pathways. An independent commission of qualified experts would approve and support these school plans. Schools will be held accountable for success through annual and three-year progress reports. There will also be an annual independent financial audit.

Resources to Learn More

Non-partisan video from League of Women Voters - Oakland:

Check out these videos from the school district about Linked Learning career pathway academies, produced by the Media Enterprise Alliance academy at MetWest High School. 

About Measure N:

About College and Career Pathways (Linked Learning):

Oakland Unified Launches Push to Expand Link Learning Academies
Oakland Unified has 29 academies in 11 of its 17 comprehensive, alternative and continuation high schools. Together, the academies serve about 2,800 students, or 42 percent of the district's 10th through 12th grade students. The number was slightly lower two years ago. The district has until 2016 to boost participation by 2,270 students.

OUSD to Expand Internship Programs for High School Students
Oakland Local
Hoping to encourage more kids to graduate high school and pursue college, Oakland Unified School District announced an expanded program of career internships for high schoolers and enlisted the help of the Peralta Community College District and the City of Oakland. The three institutions agreed to make "Linked Learning" opportunities possible for all high school seniors with the hope that as many as 80 percent of them will participate.

Linked Learning: Pathways to College and Career
An audio slideshow of how The James Irvine Foundation and its grantees are developing the Linked Learning approach: what they are doing and why, and what they are learning.

College and Career Pathways in OUSD
College and Career Pathways resources for educators, students and families, and industry partners.

Oakland Schools and Ferguson

September 5, 2014

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

Coming back to school last week, we felt the heavy shadow of the killing of Michael Brown. It's been five years since the killing of Oscar Grant, unarmed and handcuffed, shook our city in a similar way. And racial profiling has remained a daily experience for Oakland students of color in and out of school.

These tragic, repeated killings of young black men point to a pervasive underlying issue, what Charles Blow in The New York Times calls "the criminalization of blackness." In a recent column, Blow cites numerous reports and data of disparities in school discipline, with African American students suspended much more often than their peers and treated harshly for mild misconduct. The bias of the educational system, he argues, "bleeds easily into the bias of the criminal justice system."

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Superintendent Wilson greets students at Castlemont HS on the first day of school (SF Chronicle).

Oakland's Black Organizing Project (BOP) reports that the heavy police presence in urban schools leads to African American students receiving greatly disproportional levels of police intervention. According to BOP, "Having a run-in with police, even once, doubles a student's chances of dropping out... and police contact is one of the strongest predictors of whether a student will fail to finish school or have to repeat grades."

Ferguson compels education advocates to look squarely at bias in school policies and practices and to form alliances across difference to work together toward a safe and welcoming quality school experience for every student.

We've made some progress. This spring, the African American Male Initiative reported that suspensions of African American students had significantly declined. In June, the school board passed two measures that limit police ability to question students during school time and give students the right to have a parent or guardian present. Then in August, the district and the city police signed an agreement that limits and oversees police actions in schools for minor incidents. These new policies can enable schools to take positive discipline and restorative justice approaches more often.

Thank you for supporting GO's 5th Annual Garden Party!

August 19, 2014

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The music was great, the day was beautiful and the food was delicious. We heard from many of you that this party was the "best yet." Thank you! We are so grateful for the outpouring of support. 

Now we begin a vitally important stretch: the ground work to get our candidates elected.

Click here to sign up to walk or phone bank to elect great school board members.

In the District 6 School Board race, we have endorsed Renato Almanzor, a community leader and education justice advocate who has a proven track record of working to improve Oakland public schools. We need to work side by side to make sure he's elected. 

Whether you can commit to walking with us every week or you can only phone bank twice, we need your help to make sure that voters know that Renato is the strongest candidate for our students. 

At the Garden Party, Robert Wilkins, the CEO of the YMCA of the East Bay and a board member for GO Public Schools Leadership Center, shared inspiring words about working alongside the people next to you to strengthen and "rebuild the wall" of our education system: 

"The work of GO is rebuilding that wall, and we can rebuild it if we commit ourselves to doing that which we are capable of doing, and that we stick to it shoulder to shoulder, so that when there is opposition, we don't separate ... because we have a mind to work and we know that it is important for us to rebuild walls."

Mark your calendars and sign up to walk or phone bank.

Thank you again for your support and commitment to GO. Check our Facebook page soon for more photos from the Garden Party.

Commit to Shifts! Help us elect Renato Almanzor in District 6

August 4, 2014

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Last week, GO Public Schools announced our endorsement of Dr. Renato Almanzor for the District 6 school board seat. Renato is a leader with many years of experience training teachers, principals, and nonprofit leaders, who also has the perspective and insight of an OUSD parent. Renato is passionate about improving Oakland's schools and we want to make sure he gets elected. 

All three of GO's endorsed candidates were elected in 2012 because hundreds of volunteers came out to knock on doors, make phone calls and talk to voters about great leaders for Oakland kids. 

Whether you can commit to walking with us every week or you can only phone bank twice, we need your help to make sure that voters know that Renato is the right candidate for our students. 

Get your Garden Party ticket today and be a part of the movement!

This is an exciting moment for Oakland public schools. We have a new Superintendent who brings urgency to our schools. The school year begins in a few weeks, and we are all eager for positive change. 

GO's 5th Annual Garden Party is just a few weeks away on Saturday, August 16. An emerging Oakland tradition, the event's proceeds benefit GO's efforts to elect great School Board leaders for Oakland. Thank you to everyone who has bought tickets so far.

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Earlier this week, GO endorsed Dr. Renato Almanzor for the District 6 School Board race. Renato was the overwhelming choice of the GO member network of over 500 active educators, parents, and community leaders.

Renato exemplifies qualities we need on our School Board. He puts students first, fights for equity, believes in community and shared decision-making, and holds high expectations for everyone in the system. 

Two years ago, our network came together to help elect three great School Board leaders. To elect more great leaders like Renato, we need your support and participation. Come to the Garden Party to learn more and meet others who are committed to supporting great leaders for our schools.

Don't wait, purchase your Garden Party ticket today before they sell out.

Can't make it to the garden party? You can still buy a ticket for a hard-working teacher or make a donation to support our elections efforts.

GO endorses Renato Almanzor for Oakland School Board District 6

July 28, 2014

Families and Educators for Public Education, sponsored by Great Oakland Public Schools, a nonprofit community organization network of educators, families and community leaders, has endorsed Dr. Renato Almanzor for the District 6 school board seat for the Oakland Unified School District Board of Education in the November 4, 2014 general election.

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After a thorough review of each of the candidates that included a comprehensive community endorsement process, the GO Board of Directors voted unanimously to endorse Dr. Almanzor, a parent, longtime educator, community leader and social justice advocate who has a proven track record of working to improve Oakland public schools. 

"I am proud to endorse Renato Almanzor," said Mary Prime-Lawrence, an Oakland public school teacher, parent and GO Board member. "Renato has dedicated his life to education and will bring a fresh perspective to the Oakland school board. As we work to move our schools forward, we need someone committed to fighting for the future of our schools - not the battles of the past."

Dr. Almanzor's work and commitment to Oakland students has allowed him to view the Oakland educational landscape from a number of perspectives, which makes him uniquely qualified to serve on the Board:
  • Parent: Renato's son attended Oakland public schools through high school graduation. He served on school-site councils at each school his son attended.
  • Community Leader: Renato trains nonprofit leaders throughout the Bay Area and coached teachers, students, principals, and administrators in Oakland Schools.
  • Educator: As a professor, Dr. Almanzor taught courses in an educational leadership doctoral program at CSU East Bay.
Parents and educators on the GO Board of Directors applauded the decision to endorse Almanzor.

"As an Oakland principal, I know first hand both the potential and challenges involved in building strong schools," said Carmelita Reyes, principal of Oakland International High and a GO Board member. "I am confident that Renato has the drive, leadership, and skills to effectively serve our students."

Sheilagh Polk, a parent and GO Board member echoed Reyes' sentiments, and said she thought Almanzor brings the energy, passion, and new type of leadership our City and schools need right now.

"I need to know that my kids are getting a quality education," Polk said. "Leadership for our schools starts on the school board and I am confident that Renato brings the dedication, temperament, and skills to advocate effectively for our children. We need him on our school board." 


For more information, please contact GO Communications Director Chris Perrius by calling 510.868.8800 or e-mail at To learn more about Renato Almanzor, please visit his website.

Your Garden Party Tickets Available Now!

July 18, 2014

GO's 5th Annual Garden Party is just one month away -- Saturday, August 16. You don't want to miss the best one yet!

Click here to purchase your tickets today.


Here's what you can expect at this year's event:

  • Incredible food provided by some of Oakland's top restaurants, including Chop Bar, Lungomare and Bocanova (more to be announced soon).
  • A beautiful backyard garden in a private Oakland residence for you to explore and enjoy.
  • Musical and spoken word performances by amazing Oakland students.
  • Great conversation with educators, parents, community leaders, and others who deeply care about Oakland students public schools.
  • Special guest speakers, games, ways to get involved in the fall elections, new friends, and more ...

Get your tickets now before they sell out!

This starts a powerful conversation about how Oakland students are doing

July 15, 2014

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

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Last week, our Oakland Achieves partners hosted more than 100 educators, parents, community leaders, elected officials and new Superintendent Antwan Wilson for a lively community conversation about our second annual report focused on student outcomes in Oakland. 

The report is undergoing some final revisions based on feedback from the event and will be published later this month. Before that, I wanted to give you a sneak peek of some of the data you will find in the report, and a few highlights from the community conversation. We also previewed a new app that provides Oakland student API data by student subgroup and we'd love your feedback. 

A few of the key takeaways from the second Oakland Achieves report:
  • Graduation rates are up, but remain low at 63 percent overall for 2012-13.
  • More subsidized preschool programs are needed for low-income families - 60 percent of eligible children are not being served and preschool makes a huge difference to school readiness.
  • Linked Learning is having positive impacts on reading, college eligibility (A-G), and more.
  • A very low percentage of low-income and English Language Learner students are proficient in reading in elementary school or in math in middle school.
  • Overall, the outcomes of our most vulnerable students remain starkly negative compared to other students.

Thank you for your service to Oakland students, Dr. Yee

June 25, 2014

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

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This month, we honor and thank retiring Acting Superintendent Dr. Gary Yee for a lifetime of dedicated service to Oakland students. His more than four decades of commitment to strengthening Oakland public schools are an example to us all.

Four decades. Many of us working in and supporting students and schools have not been alive for four decades. This work--while often inspiring and incredibly rewarding--is also extraordinarily challenging and requires long, long hours. Dr. Yee's persistence, resilience, enthusiasm for the work, and commitment are truly admirable and uncommon.

Tribune editorial: Many productive ways to show appreciation to teachers

June 16, 2014

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Photo by Stephanie Secrest

Our community must do more to truly support teachers. Real teacher appreciation can transform Oakland into Teacher Town USA, where great teachers come, stay and get the best results for our students.

Real teacher appreciation means good compensation. Teacher salaries in Oakland Unified School District are dismal and lower than many surrounding cities. We need pay raises that will help us attract and retain great teachers.

Click here to read an editorial by our sister organization, GO Public Schools Leadership Center, in the Oakland Tribune.

Vergara Decision a Call to Action for Oakland

June 10, 2014

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

An LA Superior Court ruled today in the Vergara v. California case that a set of education laws deprive students of a constitutional right to an equal education. The ruling struck down as unconstitutional three state laws that grant permanent employment status to teachers after two years, require layoffs by seniority, and call for a complex process before a teacher can be dismissed. Due to appeals processes, no immediate changes are expected. The court specifically asked the California legislature to address these issues.

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 Photo: The nine Vergara plaintiffs include one Oakland student. Source: EdSource.

The ruling found that "both students and teachers are unfairly and unnecessarily and for no legally cognizable reason (let alone compelling one), disadvantaged by the current Permanent Employment Statute." The decision creates an opportunity to engage families, educators, and the legislature in creating better policies for students and teachers. 

Here in Oakland we need to stay focused on quality instruction for students. We need to maintain reasonable protections for both students and teachers, while ensuring that teachers are well compensated, and receive meaningful support, professional feedback, and development. And any new system needs to value and support both new and veteran teachers.

We know that many of you in our network have insights about this decision, and we want to hear from you! We'd like to post comments and perspectives on the implications of Vergara and the path forward for Oakland to our blog. Please consider taking time to contribute your thoughts about the decision. No more than 200 words please!

Children Need a Strong Start to Succeed

June 6, 2014

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

Did you know that children can already be 18 months behind academically when they enter kindergarten? Or that students who are not reading proficiently by the third grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of school? 

In Oakland, only 23 percent of students enter kindergarten "academically strong" according to a 2013 study of Oakland kindergartners by First 5 Alameda County. Since young children's brains develop so quickly, the first years of a child's life present a great opportunity to help them grow and become ready to succeed in school. But data indicates that many children in Oakland are not receiving quality early education services. 

To begin to address this, last week a group of Oakland Unified staff and community partners presented data and led a discussion on how we might "resource and prioritize" Early Childhood Education (ECE) programs in Oakland. Entitled "College and Career Ready Graduates have Strong Starts," the presentation called on the district and community partners to "design and invest in a 0-8 plan" to reduce disparities like high dropout rates for low-income children of color and give every child a strong start. 

Two Big Education Races

June 1, 2014

The June 3 primary election includes two big races that affect Oakland education: the Alameda County Superintendent of Schools and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction races. These are important offices for education voters. And given the importance of schools to our families and communities, we should all be education voters. See below for information about the races and candidates. 

Alameda County Superintendent of Schools
For the first time in nearly two decades, Alameda County will have a new Superintendent of Schools. Sheila Jordan, the County Superintendent for the past 16 years, is not seeking re-election. GO contacted each of the five candidates to complete a survey on Oakland education issues. You can read their survey responses on our blog here.

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction
The primary tomorrow pits incumbent Superintendent Tom Torlakson against two educators: Marshall Tuck and Lydia Gutierrez. The state superintendent runs the Department of Education, which provides most public school funding, and enforces the California Education Code of regulations and education laws.

This EdSource article provides extensive context on the views of the three candidates. The state PTA held a debate in May that can be viewed here on its site. A recent Ed Week blog puts the race in context and includes recent interviews with the front runners.

In both races, if a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the race will be settled. If not, the top two vote-getters will compete in the November election. We will report on the results later this week.

Antwan Wilson named Oakland Superintendent of Schools

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April 30, 2014

The Oakland Board of Education voted 7-0 at a special meeting on Wednesday, April 30 to confirm Antwan Wilson as the next Superintendent of Schools. Mr. Wilson last worked as an Assistant Superintendent in Denver Public Schools, focusing on college readiness, school turnaround, and student engagement.

We are excited to learn about the nomination of this veteran educator with over 20 years experience as a teacher, principal, and district leader. We look forward to welcoming and partnering with him as he transitions into this role.

More on the GO Public Schools Leadership Center site:

  • Click here to read the district's press release announcing the hire.

  • Click here to read our previous coverage.

Making the path together to quality schools for all

April 23, 2014 

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.


The recent April 9 school board meeting provided a snapshot of student and family access to quality schools in Oakland. The picture offers hope as well as missed opportunity as we prepare to welcome a new Superintendent

Three schools were highlighted at the meeting:

  • A successful traditional school, Parker Elementary, serving 68 percent African American students with an 852 API and 10 of 10 similar schools rank, which is likely to expand from K-5 to K-8 to serve more students. This is great news for East Oakland students and families!
  • A successful charter school, Conservatory of Vocal and Instrumental Arts (COVA) serving 60 percent African-American students with an API of 873 and 9 of 10 similar schools rank, which was denied a petition to add a high school to its existing K-8. OUSD and the CA Charter Schools Association disagree about the rationale for denial. This speaks to the need for more clarity about the standards for charter petitions and the general role of charters within Oakland's system of public schools.
  • A struggling traditional school, Brookfield Elementary serving 64 percent Latino and 27 percent African-American students with a 686 API and 2 of 10 similar schools rank, where parent leaders are working together and with GO to engage district leaders and demand better quality for their children.

The bottom line is students only get one shot at their formative education. Oakland recently ranked absolute last in the entire state for the academic performance and graduation rates of students of color. Students who are not succeeding are concentrated in our lowest performing schools. Families need better options now. 

School Board Names Antwan Wilson As Finalist for Next Superintendent

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April 16, 2014

Today, the Oakland Board of Education announced Antwan Wilson as the final candidate for the next Superintendent of Schools. Mr. Wilson is currently an Assistant Superintendent in Denver Public Schools focusing on college readiness, school turnaround, and student engagement.

We are excited to learn about the nomination of this veteran educator with over 20 years experience as a teacher, principal, and district leader. We look forward to welcoming and partnering with him as he transitions into this role.

The School Board will vote to confirm the nomination at its next meeting on Wednesday, April 23, and Mr. Wilson would officially start on July 1. In the coming weeks, we look forward to seeing the District's transition plan. We will offer whatever support we can and look for opportunities to connect you, our network, to the process. 

We want to congratulate the School Board on their choice. We know that the Board reviewed many applications, talked to scores of community stakeholders, brought students into the interviews, and made tough choices to give Oakland the best possible candidates. See the District's press release here.

We also deeply appreciate Acting Superintendent Gary Yee for his work during this transitional year. Dr. Yee stepped up when Superintendent Smith resigned in April 2013 and has handled the position with skill and grace. Oakland owes Dr. Yee a debt of gratitude for his leadership this year and his distinguished career in service of Oakland children and public schools.

Today, just like tomorrow, the success of Oakland's public schools is everyone's responsibility. Help share this news by re-tweeting this message or sharing this Facebook post.

A Message to the Next Superintendent - Tribune Op Ed

April 11, 2014

The School Board interviewed candidates for the next Oakland Superintendent of Schools late last week.

In our community survey and many meetings with parents and educators, we heard hopes, concerns, and suggestions for the next Superintendent.

We offer some of them in a recent Op-Ed in the Oakland Tribune.

Recurring themes included the need to act with urgency, to focus resources on programs with the highest impact, and to unleash the energy and motivation in school communities.

The Board indicated that they may announce the new hire at the next board meeting on Wednesday, April 23, or perhaps sooner. We will of course keep you posted.

An Important Race - County Superintendent

This June, residents of Alameda County will vote to elect a new County Superintendent of Schools. This is an important job -- the lead administrator of a system with 18 school districts and 225,000 students that includes Oakland public schools.

However, during a busy election season, this important race could easily get lost in the shuffle.

On Wednesday April 9, the League of Women Voters is hosting a candidate forum for the Alameda County Superintendent of Schools's race. The forum will be from 6-7:30 pm in Hearing Room 1 at Oakland City Hall (1 Frank Ogawa Plaza).

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This is a great opportunity to hear more about each candidate and their credentials and vision for public education in Alameda County. No RSVP is necessary.

Click here to download the event flier with a list of candidates who will appear at the forum. 

Links to candidate websites are below:
The County Superintendent oversees a budget of more than $40 million and plays important roles related to teacher professional development, Common Core and Local Control Funding Formula implementation, charter public schools oversight, arts education investments, and supports for students with special needs.

I hope you will be able to attend and help raise awareness about this important race.

Also, hundreds of GO volunteers will help get the word out about school board elections and leadership for Oakland schools this year. It's a great way to make a difference while connecting with others who care about our schools. Click here to read more about the elections effort and sign up.

Results of Superintendent Search Community Survey

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

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Applications were due on Monday, March 17 for candidates for the next Superintendent of Oakland Public Schools. The School Board is scheduled to make its hiring decision by April 18. GO is facilitating community input into this decision through a survey, community meetings, one-to-one's with Board members, and more.

The decision is a big one. To take one measure: in 2013, for the first time in a decade, Oakland's overall academic performance declined after several years of flat growth. Third grade English proficiency, a key measure of success in school and life, dropped for all students, and steeply for Latino and African American students. Latino student proficiency fell from 28 percent in 2012 to 23 percent in 2013, and among African American students from 32 percent to 27 percent. Behind these statistics, students' lives are on the line. 

To begin a month-long process of engagement with the district about this decision, we are gathering a range of information from the public:

Click on the link below to view results from our survey and community meeting highlights. We also outline what we know about the search process right now and how you can get involved. While some of these survey results may be unsettling, they point to the need for new leadership - not just from a new superintendent but from all of us in the education community - to take responsibility to act with urgency to improve our public schools. We are all in this together.

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Click here to view the full report on the GO Public Schools Leadership Center site.

Budget Update at March 26 School Board Meeting

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

Acting Superintendent Gary Yee is scheduled to give his second (and final) update on implementing OUSD's Results Based Budgeting Policy at this week's OUSD Board meeting (March 26, 2014).

How did we get here? First, a look at what's happened since Acting Superintendent Yee's first update, on February 12. Then, a brief timeline of action taken by the Board and Acting Superintendent since this process began in the fall of 2013.

What has happened since February
What we know has transpired since Acting Superintendent Yee's update on February 12:

  • District Budget Advisory Committee: GO, along with a variety of community stakeholders, is participating in a new District Budget Advisory Committee convened by Acting Superintendent Yee to learn more about the changes, and help ensure that the new system serves the needs of schools. Plans call for the committee to meet every other month for the remainder of the year. We will keep you posted on its progress.
  • February Memo: Acting Superintendent Yee's first budget update makes up the bulk of this memo, which also lays out the three major components of his team's implementation plan: School Site Budget Development; Central Services analysis of services to sites; Central Office Budget Development. This memo also includes information on a staffing formula: "Enrollment projections drive base (core) staffing, and the actual salaries/benefits of staff are averaged, so that staffing can be stabilized for students and fully funded across all schools to ensure the delivery of the basic program." Click here to download the memo. 
  • March Memo: In preparation for this week's Board meeting, Acting Superintendent Yee and his team released a memo detailing progress made implementing the RBB policy. This memo mentions that the new system allocates "positions without regard to their actual cost" whereas allocations in the previous system to schools were in actual dollars. This memo also mentions "flexibility" schools may have in budgeting: Schools may "trade position within the base allocation, or use discretionary/ supplemental/ concentration/ restricted funds to buy other positions." Click here to download the memo.
  • Budget Development Handbook: The district published a Budget Development Handbook, which is a work in progress but highlights the staffing formula, and a wide variety of other issues, such as counselor and School Security Officer placement, timelines, and limits on flexibility. Click here to download the Budget Development Handbook.
  • School Budgets: Final school budgets were supposed to be available here March 14 but have not yet been released to the public. We look forward to receiving this important information, as well as an analysis showing the impact in actual expenditures of this budget plan.
  • Board Study Sessions: The school board scheduled a series of the Board Study Sessions to learn more about the upcoming budget and changes due to the Local Control Funding Formula. They are scheduled for:
    - April 21 - LCAP study session
    - April 30 - Board Budget Development
    - May 21 - Board Budget Development
Click here to read the rest of the article on the GO Leadership Center site. 

Excerpt from Oakland Achieves: Every Day Counts Report

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization), an excerpt from Oakland Achieves: Every Day Counts, an upcoming report on attendance in Oakland. The following is a look at PLACE @ Prescott Elementary and Principal Enomwoyi Booker: Read the complete entry here.

An "Adamant" Approach
For an under-resourced school struggling with low attendance rates, the challenges can be great. But when you're a tight-knit campus that is "adamant" about attendance, you go to equally great lengths to turn things around. 

"Adamant" is how Principal Enomwoyi Booker describes the commitment to improving attendance at PLACE @ Prescott Elementary in West Oakland. Over the past four years, this focus has created a remarkable shift: Since 2009-10, chronic absence at PLACE has dropped from 31 percent to 16 percent. Among the school's predominantly African American students, progress has been even more dramatic, with rates down from 32 percent to 13 percent

How did PLACE @ Prescott make these strides? 

Personalized outreach
Booker and the school's teachers and support staff have gone the extra mile (sometimes miles) to connect with families of frequently absent students. Home visits show families how important the school considers attendance, and often lead to solutions that make a big difference. In one case, the school wound up buying an alarm clock for a tardy student's older sibling so he could help his brother get to school on time. "We have these conversations on the porch, or through the car window at the curbside if a child's dropped off late to school," explains Booker. "We break it down, figure out how we can help, then do whatever it takes."

Family to family
Booker says other parents have also been essential partners in the attendance cause. "We have great parent leaders and liaisons who've been able to explain to other parents how important regular attendance is," says Booker. On a campus like PLACE with several long-time staff and so many families that know each other, "Teachers and parent leaders have gained trust in the community, and families will connect with each other to make sure kids are at school on time. There's always somebody who can help somebody else out." 

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Meet the 2014 GO Teacher Policy Fellows

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

The 2013-2014 GO Teacher Policy Fellows:

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Cori Belew
Cori Belew is an Oakland public school teacher working in the charter system for the past 8 years. She has taught for Aspire Public Schools, CMO and currently is a lead teacher at North Oakland Community Charter School. Cori has taught both 2nd and 3rd grade. She is an alumni of Mills College where she received her teaching credential and Masters of Teaching, as well as University of California, Santa Cruz where she majored in psychology and minored in education. Cori loves Oakland and loves living and teaching in this magnificent city.

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Tiffany Chan
Tiffany Chan is in her third year teaching in Oakland Unified. She was the Kindergarten non-severely handicapped special day class teacher at Allendale Elementary for the past two years and is currently the Resource Specialist at Alliance Academy middle school. This year, Tiffany is focused on building a structured and sustainable Resource program at Alliance and ensuring her school implements RTI best practices. Formerly the Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) team lead at Allendale, Tiffany currently serves on her school's Culture and Climate Team. Tiffany graduated from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) with a B.A. in Art Practice, and she is a painter and sculptor. Although she was born in San Diego and grew up overseas, she now considers the Bay Area home.

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Emma Coufal
Emma Coufal is in her third year teaching Kindergarten at Allendale Elementary School. She is a native Californian, but spent the majority of her life in Southern California - growing up in Los Angeles and attending college at UC San Diego. She came to Oakland through the Teach For America program. Emma recently earned her Masters Degree from Loyola Marymount University in Urban Education: Policy and Administration. In addition to her role as a classroom teacher, Emma serves on her school's Instructional Leadership Team and manages the school website. She is also currently working with other teacher leaders across the district as a member of the ELA Common Core Materials Selection Committee. Outside of her career in education, Emma works as a Court Appointed Advocate for foster youth in Alameda County.

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Jeffrey Franey
Born and raised in Merced, Jeffrey Franey comes from a large family of teachers. He is in his fourth year of teaching within a Science Prep position in Oakland. He has been the Lead Science Teacher at Hoover Elementary School in West Oakland, and has worked with the staff to implement Science instruction multiple times per week. Jeffrey holds positions on the Instructional Lead Team, and School Site Council at Hoover outside of weekly collaboration with grade level teams surrounding Science instruction, and teaching Science to grades K-5. He holds a Multi-Subject Credential from San Francisco State University, and a Master of Teacher Education from San Diego State University. 

There are 10 more fellows! Click here to read the rest of their bios on the GO Public Schools Leadership Center site. 

Oakland Attendance Awards Results and Photos

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

West Oakland Middle School Principal Ron Smith knows when any of the students at his school are absent. And he remembers each one as well -- missing students can expect him to ask them why they missed school the next time they're back. "Kids get annoyed if I ask in the (morning) lineup where they were yesterday," Smith said.

Smith was speaking on a panel that featured Oakland principals during the "Oakland Attendance Awards and Celebration" event on February 13 at Mills College to honor and celebrate "Bright Spot" schools and staff who are "moving the needle on chronic absence reduction." The event was hosted by the Oakland Attendance Collaborative of the Oakland Education Cabinet. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and School Board Director Anne Campbell-Washington were among the 50 people who attended.


Click here to read the rest of the article on the GO Leadership Center site. 

How State Funding is Changing This Year

This is an excerpt from a post by GO Public Schools Leadership Center (our sister organization). Read the complete entry here.

In this Budget Matters article, we'll review the big picture. In the next issue, we'll look at how district budget policies and evolving Oakland budgeting system proposal determine how much funding schools get based on students and staff salaries. 

The State Context: Great needs, little money

  • K-12 spending is the largest single category of the California state budget, about $40 billion or 41 percent of California's General Fund. Yet California invests less in K-12 education than other states, despite having greater financial resources. When you factor in the cost of living, our state ranks 49th out of 50 in the nation
  • The need in California for investment is also great. Our 1.3 million English language learners (ELLs) nearly equal the combined number of ELLs in the next four most populous states -- Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois. And more than half (53 percent) of California's students come from low-income families. As a state with a large economy full of innovation and opportunity, we need to invest much more in readying our students for the 21st Century. 

What is changing this year?

  • A New State System: As of this year, the state's school funding system has changed from the old "revenue limit" system to a new system called Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). LCFF relaxes most "categorical" spending restrictions and provides more resources to districts such as OUSD who have more students in need, specifically low-income, English Language Learners, and foster children. 
  • More Money to Districts with Greater Need: This new funding means significant new opportunities for educators, families, and others in school communities to influence how funds are spent to ensure our children are educated successfully. Funds that were previously restricted are now under "local control" to decide how to best spend them to support our students.Oakland has more money this year for students with the greatest needs.
  • Community input and greater accountability: The influx of new funding, along with new state regulations, gives OUSD the opportunity to revamp its budgeting processes, and how money is allocated to schools. The new system requires the district to increase or improve programs and services to targeted students. It also requires that the community gives input on these plans to ensure they are going to meet student need.

                                                                                                      Graphic: California PTA

Top 10 Ways to Hella Love GO

Happy Valentine's Day! We have so much love for the Oakland community, and are humbled and grateful to engage in this important work with such great people.

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Here are a few ways you can show some love to GO and GO Leadership Center (our sister organization) and help us continue to strive for our vision of an Oakland where all students have the opportunity to attend quality public schools that prepare them to fully participate in life and work in the 21st century community and economy.

  1. Complete our community survey on the next Oakland Superintendent of Schools

  2. Join our team for the 2014 Oakland Running Festival on March 23

  3. Follow our series on OUSD's changing budgeting process

  4. Like us on Facebook

  5. Become a member of GO Public Schools

  6. Sign up to volunteer for the 2014 elections 

  7. Get a free "I hella love Oakland teachers" sticker

  8. Re-tweet this link

  9. Purchase something you need (or a gift for a loved one) on Amazon Smile

  10. Follow our School Board Watch blog

Dr. Howard Fuller Speaks in Oakland on Equity, Access, and Quality Schools

Over 100 educators, parents, and other community members attended a deeply inspiring talk on Saturday, December 14, 2013 by education and civil rights leader Dr. Howard Fuller on "School Options for African American Families" hosted by the Oakland Alliance of Black Educators (OABE) in partnership with our sister organization, GO Public Schools Leadership Center. Dr. Fuller and other speakers talked about making dramatic improvements to the school system for African American students and families in Oakland.

Dr. Fuller called for "a revolutionary point of view," declaring that we need to do more than fix the system.

There is no "one best system that works for all children," he argued, calling for honest talk about what children go through every day in our schools - and communities.

"Some children deserve a medal for just showing up at school," he said, and they deserve better from the school system. Too many schools are "pathways to the lowest rung of society."

We were all moved by how he called on us all to pledge to fight every day to save children's lives. Because as Dr. Fuller said, education is fundamentally about economic empowerment, about whether our children will grow up free and independent.

Fuller_Collage.jpg[Click on the image to see photos from the event on GO's Facebook page. Photos by Stephanie Secrest Photography.]

But sadly, "our children perish under the weight of the compromises of adults," as Kareem Weaver said in his opening talk.  

Kareem Weaver, Executive Director of Bay Area New Leaders and an officer of OABE, reminded us that only about half of African American students graduate high school, and only one-third of those have the credits required to apply for admission to state colleges.

"Education is not just about getting a job, but our children need to be ready for college and career," Weaver said, presenting research that found that every additional $12,500 in annual income led to an additional year in life expectancy. "This is why life expectancy in West Oakland is decades lower than it is just a few miles away in the hills."

Weaver called for educators to rise above the divisive politics of charter and district schools and work together to provide solutions now for the families that need them.

Dr. Fuller called on us to value the hopes and dreams of children and saving children's lives "more than the institutional heritage of the education system," and to be willing to imagine diverse new systems to meet every students' need.

"Change is not going to come from Washington or Sacramento," Fuller argued, "it's going to come from local communities that organize themselves to fight and win on behalf of our children."

The event sparked new conversations and alliances among education leaders who want urgent changes for African American students, and we greatly look forward to continuing this conversation in 2014, building alliances and working with families to increase access to quality schools now.

The entire talk is available here on our You Tube site.

GO's 2013 Holiday Newsletter

GO's third year was a big one. Between GO and its sister organization GO Public Schools Leadership Center, we helped move millions of dollars to schools, published with our partners the first Oakland Achieves report on student results cradle to career, worked with teachers to push for policies to retain more great teachers, and more.

Read all about it in our 2013 Holiday Newsletter.

Also enjoy this short video - Your commitment is what makes us GO! 

Find Yourself

By Robert A. Wilkins, CEO and President, YMCA of the East Bay
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others," said Mohandas K. Gandhi.  As he was with so many things, Mahatma Gandhi was right.  Volunteering makes a difference, not only in someone else's life, but also in your own.
I should know.  My organization - The YMCA of the East Bay - has helped a lot of people find themselves over the years. Without volunteers, we could not exist. Nor could countless other nonprofits. 
Last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 64.5 million people volunteered through, or for, an organization at least once. If you are one of those 64.5 million, you can, if you wish, stop reading now. You already made a difference. But if you are one of the 73 percent of the population who didn't volunteer to help a community group, a church, a nonprofit, a school or other organization at least once last year, you need to read on and find yourself.
Annette Miller found herself. She's making a difference. A West Oakland parent of four, Annette is one of the 64.5 million who volunteered more than once. In addition to being a parent leader at McClymonds High School, where she and her children went to high school, she also volunteers to help other parents and kids in West Oakland and participates in workshops developed by a local non-profit, Attitudinal Healing Connection, for the West Oakland Parents Action Network and gives time to Great Oakland Public Schools, another local nonprofit committed to improving student learning and achievement. Annette is one of 300+ volunteers who collectively gave thousands of hours of service to GO Public Schools last year. 
Jay Gilson, a CPA and co-owner of Bay Area-based RINA Accountancy, is a volunteer boardmember of the Regional Parks Foundation, which makes the East Bay Regional Park District's parks, trails, programs and services available to the area's underserved population. An avid outdoorsman and cyclist, Jay's motivation for volunteering was simply that he and his family enjoyed weekends walking and riding the trails. He wanted to make sure others could enjoy the same feeling. 
We need more people like Annette and Jay to make a difference, to find themselves by losing themselves in the service of others. That's why the Y will honor Annette and Jay and more than two dozen other volunteers at our first ever "YOU ARE THE DIFFERENCE" awards ceremony. We're recognizing not only our own Y volunteers, but people like Annette and Jay, who choose to donate some of their free time to other nonprofits in the Bay Area.  Why?  Because when someone volunteers, we all benefit.  Volunteering strengthens our entire community. It really does make a difference.  Lose yourself and you'll find yourself making a difference too.   
Robert A. Wilkins has been CEO and President of the YMCA of the East Bay since 1997. He is an ordained minister and currently serves as an Associate Minister at Allen Temple Baptist Church and educator in contemporary religion and biblical literature.

Your school district may be changing ...

The district in which you live (the one that determines your school board representative and city council member - this does not impact school boundaries) could change in the next few months.

It's been three years since the 2010 census and that means it's time to redefine the district boundaries for Oakland's City Council and School Board. The school district boundaries follow the city council boundaries, but schools often get left out of the discussion.

As a great overview in Oakland Local by our friends at Oakland Rising notes:

"District lines are literally the building blocks of local government and democracy. How district lines are drawn reflects and shapes how communities are defined, how political power is distributed, and how city services are planned and delivered."

Here's a link to a recent story from Oakland Local on the redistricting process.

While the process is far along, there are things you can still do to be involved. The City has been accepting maps proposed by community members. You can see these maps on the city site in a presentation about the process, and also at Oakland Votes, which is providing opportunities for the public to engage.

You can attend one of the upcoming city meetings to make sure that your voice is heard about redistricting. You can find the city's schedule here, and key upcoming dates are below.

Thank You for a Wonderful 2013 Garden Party

This year's Garden Party was our best ever - with over 200 people in attendance, we raised more than double what we raised last year. 

Our matching donor has generously agreed to continue their match through this week. If you weren't able to make a contribution or make it to the Garden Party, sign up to donate $10 or more per month here

Some of our favorite moments from Saturday were:

  • James Harris speaking frankly about the challenges of being a school board member mixed with hope for what is possible for Oakland schools. It was inspiring to have 6 of our 7 school board members join us.
  • D'Angelo, Ray J, and Troy's voices and talent and challenge to our adult community that we -- Oakland grown ups -- do better, with such clarity and fierce urgency.
  • Seeing so many organization leaders, elected officials, parents, teachers, and district and charter leaders having great conversations and connecting to move our collective work forward.
  • Watching parents from West Oakland, Fruitvale, and East Oakland raise their hand to become monthly donors to support the organization. 
  • The fantastic food and drink donated by Chop Bar, Haven, Bocanova, Lungomare, Home of Chicken & Waffles, and Linden Street!
  • Listening to the music of Ray Obiedo and his band and hearing from all of you how much you enjoyed having them. Thanks to 51Oakland for making this possible!
  • Seeing children painting, planting, and creating at the Kid's Zone - having more fun than we adults were at times, it seemed!
Thank you again for your support on Saturday. This is going to be a big year for Oakland schools, and we could not do what we do to support our community of educators and parents without your generosity. Thanks again to Debbra and Don Lindo for hosting, to the food and drink vendors for their amazing contributions, and to all of our sponsors and volunteers for helping make the event possible.

Here are some of our favorite social media posts from the day:


Fourth Annual Garden Party Information

Find answers here to your questions about our

4th Annual Garden Party!

Click this link to get your ticket

The following questions are covered on this page:
  • When and where is the Garden Party being held?
  • Who is attending the Garden Party?
  • Why should I attend this event?
  • What kinds of food and drink will be available?
  • How do I get my ticket?
  • I'm a teacher - is there a discounted ticket available for me?
  • I'm interested in being a cohost for the event. What do I need to know?
  • My business is interested in sponsoring the Garden Party. What do I need to know?
  • Will childcare be available?
  • What should I wear?
  • What will we do at the Garden Party?
  • I cannot make a contribution now, but I want to attend the Garden Party! How can I get a spot?
  • How can I help spread the word?
  • Is my contribution tax-deductible?
  • How will the funds raised at the Garden Party be used? 

When and where is the Garden Party being held?
Saturday, August 17th from 1pm - 4pm at Debbra and Don Lindo's home.

Why should I attend this event?
Here are just a few of the many reasons:

  • The garden is absolutely beautiful.
  • You will see and meet so many great people who care as much as you do about Oakland public schools.
  • The food, wine, and beer will be plentiful, very tasty, and complimentary to all attendees!
  • You'll be supporting our work to help do critically important work for Oakland's children.
  • This event is always a hit - you'll leave wanting to sign up for our next Garden Party in 2014.

What kinds of food and drink will be available?
We will have great food and drink from many Oakland restaurants, breweries, and wineries - including but not limited to Chop BarLungomareLinden Street BreweryBocanova, and Haven.

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How do I get my ticket?
It is very easy to add your name to our guest list, simply get your ticket  (or become a cohost) here on our Eventbrite site.

I'm a teacher - is there a discounted ticket available for me?
Yes! Teachers can attend for $25. Use discount code "HellaLoveTeachers".

I'm interested in being a cohost for the event. What do I need to know?
To be a Garden Party cohost, we ask that you give or raise $250 or more. 

We have tools to support cohosts, such as example emails to your friends. Drop Richard an email to get these tools -

My business is interested in sponsoring the Garden Party. What do I need to know?
Sponsorship opportunities are available from $250 - $5,000. Contact Richard at if you would like to discuss.

Will childcare be available?
Yes! The Garden Party Kid's Zone will be full of fun arts and crafts, cookie decorating, story time, and games. Childcare is available for $10 per child for the event. You can pay for childcare at the event in cash, check, or credit card. We would love to welcome any child ages 2 - 7.

Please email Richard at (and include information regarding your children's names, ages, and any allergies) to sign your children up beforehand so that we can prepare snacks and have sufficient staffing. This information will help us to prepare for the day of fun and to arrange groups based on the children's ages.

What should I wear?
Please come wearing your favorite summer clothing to celebrate a beautiful day in the garden. Depending on the weather that day, it might get a bit chilly - a jacket or sweater might be useful. To be able to fully enjoy the garden, we recommend that women not wear tall heels.

What will we do at the Garden Party?
There will be lots of time to enjoy great food and drink, explore the Garden, and spend time connecting with others. We'll also share an update on our work in 2012-2013 and what we'll be working on this upcoming 2013-2014 school year.

We'll also enjoy music from jazz guitarist Ray Obiedo, a native of Richmond, California who began playing guitar at 17. He quickly developed a unique style that combined rock, soul, jazz and R&B influences. He has performed and recorded with numerous big-name artists, including Herbie Hancock, Julian Priester, and Sheila E., and was the driving creative force behind fusion and rock projects Kick and Rhythmus 21, respectively. 

I cannot make a contribution now, but I want to attend the Garden Party! How can I get a spot?

Become a volunteer! We'll make sure you have a volunteer role for a part of the party and that you can enjoy the party for another portion of the event. Email Richard at to sign up. You can help us with set up, clean up, check-in, donations, childcare, tech setup, or many other tasks.

How can I help spread the word?
Email your friends about the event, RSVP on our Facebook event and then share it on your wall, Tweet about it and mention our Twitter account (@gopublicschools). On the day of the event, we'll be using hashtag #oaklandkids for the event, so be sure to bring your phone with Twitter app ready to tweet!

Is my contribution tax-deductible?
No - contributions to GO Public Schools 501(c)4) are not tax-deductible.

How will the funds raised at the Garden Party be used?  
The Garden Party is a our annual fundraiser for our work at Great Oakland Public Schools 501(c)4 in support of each and every Oakland child having access to a quality public education.

Volunteer with GO at summer street fairs!

GO will have tables at many of Oakland's great summer events. Can you volunteer a couple of hours to help us spread the word about the work we are doing to help every Oakland student have great education?

Could you give a few hours to volunteer this summer?

Below is a list of dates of events we'll be at over the next few months. 

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Please contact Aurora Barajas, one of GO's Managers of Parent Leadership, at or 510-689-7898 to let her know the dates for which you can help.

Jack London Square Festival of Family Fun - Thursday, July 4, 11am-4pm
Temescal Street Fair - Sunday, July 7, 12-6pm 
Laurel Street Fair - Saturday, August 10, 11am-6pm 
Art & Soul Festival - Saturday August 3, 12-8pm and Sunday, August 4, 12-6pm 
Oaktoberfest (Dimond District) - Saturday, October 5, 11am-6pm 
Rockridge Out & About - Sunday, October 6, 12-6pm 
Día de Los Muertos (Fruitvale District) - Saturday, November 2, 10am - 5pm

We'd love to see you out there! Thanks again for your support.

An Open Letter to Tony Smith

As you know, Superintendent Tony Smith resigned in April, and his last day is June 30. 

Over the last four years, Smith's leadership brought our community together around a shared vision of high quality, full service community schools in every neighborhood. We extend our deepest appreciation to Smith, and wish he and his family all the best.

We wanted to share an appreciation of Superintendent Smith from Mirella Rangel. Mirella is the Executive Director of Oakland Leaf, and the secretary for the GO Public Schools board.

The following is the text from the letter. Click here to download the letter.

June 27, 2013

Dear Tony Smith,

As you transition out of your role as the Superintendent of Oakland, I would like to thank you. Working as an educator for the past 15 years, I have seen the variety of priorities within Oakland Unified School District change drastically as one Superintendent has replaced another. Within my first years teaching, I experienced a new focus on Open Court, a "teacher-proof," draconian scripted reading program. This approach was far from my values and Oakland Leaf's mission to cultivate community transformation through creative education for youth and families.

When it was announced that you were to be Oakland's Superintendent, I was thrilled. Tony Smith, the person with whom I had exchanged stories of personal triumph over the vast class and race inequities, would be making educational policy decisions. I was re-energized as an educational leader. You began your tenure announcing that "public education is not broken, it is doing exactly as it was intended to do - sort students." The growing hope for education in Oakland was palpable. 

Your tenure, although filled with controversy, has shifted the paradigm from a "back to basics" approach, to one that established that the role of education is to develop happy, healthy, and successful adults equipped with the tools to explore, innovate, and succeed. You determined which mountain Oaklanders would climb - a new vision.

We see bright spots for children across the city, but we are far from reaching the top of this mountain, I know. The inequities persist; some would say that they have grown. This has happened under your watch, under my watch and under the watch of teachers, charter school leaders, unions, principals, elected officials, custodians, etc. We need to take collective responsibility for these inequities. 

I wish you and your family the best of luck in Chicago. Now that the board has committed Oakland to the strategic vision for quality community schools, we understand that it is our shared work to grow the number of educators, administrators, parents, students, and community organizations engaged in addressing the vast educational and opportunity gaps for children in our city.

In gratitude and struggle,

Mirella Rangel
Executive Director
Oakland Leaf

OUSD names new school board member

The OUSD school board just voted to appoint Anne Campbell-Washington to represent District 4, given former board member Gary Yee's appointment as Acting Superintendent.

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Anne Campbell-Washington is the mother of two OUSD kids and a longtime Oakland public servant who has served in multiple city administrations and departments. She will serve the remaining 18 months of the term, and there will be an open election for the seat in November 2014.

Click here to read the application she submitted to the OUSD board. 

Click here to read a letter Anne wrote to the Oakland community about why she wants to serve on the school board.

We applaud the board for making a thoughtful and difficult decision. Nine qualified candidates with strong backgrounds in public service and education stepped forward to seek the position, and the board had the unenviable task of picking just one. 

It is truly a positive sign that so many ambitious and competent leaders were aspiring to serve in this important office.

We look forward to working with Anne as important decisions loom, such as the hiring of a permanent superintendent, addressing the results of the recent state audit, and preparing for a great 2013-2014 school year for Oakland students. 

At GO, we believe in the power of community and the importance of our leaders in ensuring that our schools serve all of our children and have an equal chance at leading happy, successful lives. They, and our community, deserve nothing less.

Oakland Tribune editorial: Long list of applicants for Oakland school board seat is encouraging

From the Oakland Tribune's My Word opinion section:

By Jonathan Klein
GO Public Schools Executive Director

This week the Oakland school board began interviewing 10 applicants who stepped forward seeking an appointment to represent District 4 for the remainder of Gary Yee's term as he transitions to serve as acting superintendent.

The candidates are leaders with strong backgrounds in public service and education, leaders with broad policy experience and leaders with deep roots in the community.

This is good for Oakland.

Our GO community came together in 2009, in part, around a shared understanding of how important Oakland's school board is to children and youth specifically, and to the health of our city more generally.

Since then we have helped increase community awareness of the board by reporting on their meetings, highlighting the important issues, organizing forums and sharing information about school board candidates.

When we started this work in 2010, eight of the previous 14 school board elections seats were unopposed (only one candidate) and only  a few of the six contested elections were competitive. Across Oakland, we are seeing evidence of the community deepening its involvement and dedication to students and public education and signs that our community leaders are rising to the occasion.

It is truly a positive sign that so many ambitious and competent leaders are aspiring to serve in this important office.

Our students need the best board member possible right now. There are important decisions to be made immediately, such as the hiring of a permanent superintendent and addressing the findings of the recent state audit.

As the board interviews these candidates and makes the appointment, we urge members to consider candidates who:

  • Have a strong commitment to serving each and every one of our children, in all of Oakland's public schools;
  • Will be the best school board member, period -- independent of political considerations;
  • Have a record of getting things done and the skills to move from vision, to policy, to and through implementation;
  • Bring relationships from across the district and city to support the district's work;
  • Share our values about engaging those impacted by decisions in making decisions;
  • Are able to make a strong, immediate impact on the work of implementing the Thriving Students vision to support students;
  • Are open to new information and perspectives;
  • Have skills to develop relationships across differences within the board; and
  • Are interested in serving the entire city, not just District 4.

We urge board members not to become distracted by political considerations such as whether a candidate is interested in running for election in November 2014. The stakes are too high for students right now.

We look forward to partnering with whomever the board appoints and see this as another hopeful sign of things to come for the Oakland education community.

At GO, we believe in the power of community and the importance of our leaders in ensuring that our schools serve all of our children and have an equal chance at leading happy, successful lives. They, and our community, deserve nothing less.

District 4 Director Candidate Forums

Candidates for the District 4 School Board Seat

We wanted share an update on the District 4 school board appointment process. We were pleased to see that 12 individuals with diverse experiences and backgrounds have applied to replace Dr. Gary Yee, who begins his year as Acting Superintendent on July 1.

I wanted to share information about the applicants and encourage you to attend and participate in the board's process.

The remaining key dates are:

May 29th (Today) - OUSD Board decides which of the applicants are selected for an interview
June 5th - OUSD Board interviews selected applicants
June 12th - OUSD Board makes appointment
The applicants are as follows (in alphabetical order). Click on each person's name to see the application he or she submitted to the OUSD Board.

*Note: Carlos Carmona has been disqualified for residency reasons.

Click here to view 2-3 sentence bios of each candidate posted by the Oakland Tribune.

We will continue to keep you up-to-date on the process and ways for you to weigh in on the decision on our blog and through social media.

OUSD Scorecard Updates: What is a College and Career Pathway?

In December 2012, the OUSD board voted unanimously to accept framework for the Balanced Scorecard initiative, which sets measurable goals for "student achievement" and "operational excellence."  

Great Oakland Public Schools is following along with "OUSD Scorecard Updates" - a series of blog posts sharing updates on the scorecard as it is implemented over the coming months.

In this post, we take a look at graduation, one of the district's goals for "student achievement" and how "college and career pathways" are designed to help the district hit its targeted graduation rate.

  • Click here to read the first post, which breaks down how the Balanced Scorecard works.
  • Click here to read the second post, which takes a look at how school quality is measured.
  • Click here to download the Balanced Scorecard.
  • Click here to download the board's 2013 Work Plan and Strategic Priorities Calendar.
The first goal of the Balanced Scorecard is, "every 9th grader graduates high school prepared to succeed in college and career."

To meet this overarching goal, the district has sub-goals and targets in five areas: 

  • Cohort graduation rate: Increase district cohort graduation rate by 1 percent and increase district absolute graduation rate for students who take more than four years to earn a diploma by 1 percent.
  • Grade 12 A-G Requirements: Annual growth target of increasing the percentage of students meeting A-G requirements upon graduation by 2 percent.
  • College Readiness: 2012-2013 target of requiring all 11th grade students to take the CSU Early Assessment Program (EAP). (Future targets will be set based on increased participation rates in 2012-13.)
  • Academies/pathways: An annual growth target of 5 percent for students who have completed an academy or career pathway program upon graduation.
  • Grades 9-11 A-G Requirements: 2012-2013 target of establishing a baseline for A-G on-track status for grades 9-11 using A-G/transcript analysis tool adapted from Fresno Unified/UC Merced (funded by the California Endowment).
The board heard presentations on graduation during two recent board meetings: College and Career Pathways on May 8 and High School Progress (graduation rates) on May 22.

This post focuses on College and Career Pathwaysalso called "linked learning" which are courses designed to lead to post-secondary options for students.

In order to meet the graduation goal, OUSD has set a goal that 80 percent of its students enroll in pathway programs. Currently, 42 percent of OUSD students participate.

Gretchen Livesey, the director of OUSD's College and Career Readiness Office, took the board through the presentation, which examined what pathways are, some of the best programs in the district, and how the program will move forward.

Click here for a PDF of the presentation.

According to OUSD, College and Career Pathways are:
  • A grade 9-12 or 10-12 program with a career theme
  • A career technical education sequence of courses that lead to industry certification, entry level employment, and various post-secondary options
Pathways are open to all students as well, regardless of previous academic achievement, and also offer targeted support and intervention.

A look at Pathway students compared with students not involved in a Pathway program in 2011-2012:
Pathways data snapshot.jpgThe board also heard from two OUSD teachers who work in pathways academies. 

Skyline High teacher Tracy Ostrom spoke to the board about the Green Energy Academy at her school. Ostrom told the board her school community really wanted to have a program focused on "science, technology, engineering and math" when the academy was being designed. She said her hopes for the academy include getting students interested in a career in environmental science, specifically.

Click here to learn more about Skyline's Green Energy Academy.

Castlemont High teacher Timothy Bremmer also spoke about the Sustainable Urban Design Academy, which he founded. Bremmer said that much of the work at his school--which prepares kids for college through programs designed around sustainability--is done through "voluntary support from community partners." He said he wants to align more of the work being done at the school with work done on the district level.

A challenge for the Pathway programs moving forward, OUSD acknowledges, is "ensuring equitable, choice-based student access to all pathways, while balancing demographics across pathways." Currently, 54 percent of White students, 52 percent of Asian students, 47 percent of Latino students and 30 percent of African American students participate in Pathway programs.

pathway demographics.jpgOUSD's plan is to grow and expand current Pathway programs, while expanding their total number. 
Current pathways.jpg
Four new Pathway academies are being developed at: 

  • Bunch (Hospitality and Tourism Academy)
  • Castlemont (one or two more depending on school enrollment: Public Health and/or Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing)
  • Madison Park (Business and Finance and Digital Design pathways supported through the National Academy Foundation) 
  • Rudsdale (Green construction and design)

Who will represent District 4?

We need your help to identify a leader with both a strong commitment to children and public schools--and the skills to be an effective member of the school board.

As you may know, due to Gary Yee's appointment as Acting Superintendent, there is a vacancy for District 4 on the Oakland Unified School Board. Rather than hold a special election--with an estimated cost exceeding $250,000--the school board voted to accept applications, interview, and then appoint a new Director to represent District 4 for the year and a half that remains of the current term (until January 2015).

This is an excellent opportunity for our GO community to help identify and encourage District 4 leaders to apply for the position. As you know, school board members have a tremendous impact on students by helping set policy priorities to better serve students and ensure that OUSD makes progress toward its goals. The board also approves, renews, and denies contracts and charters, and sets priorities for a $600 million dollar budget. In addition, the new school board member from District 4 will have an important role in selecting the next permanent Superintendent for OUSD.

Applicants must be District 4 residents. Click here to determine if you are a resident of District 4. Note that City Council Districts are the same as School Board Districts. 

The process will move quickly over the next several weeks with applications due by Friday, May 17th and the final appointment scheduled to occur on June 12th.

The full process adopted by the Board is as follows:

  • Friday, May 3 - Application form posted
  • Friday, May 17, 5:00 P.M. - Deadline for receipt of the Candidate Applications (note, cannot be faxed or e-mailed)
  • Wednesday, May 29, 6:00 P.M. - Board of Education screens applications and selects candidates to be interviewed
  • Wednesday, June 5 - The Board of Education interviews identified candidates
  • Wednesday, June 12 - The Board of Education makes a Provisional Appointment

Click here to view the Notice of Vacancy.
Click here view the official application.

We hope the GO community can help our school board find a great leader to serve Oakland's students on the Board. If you have any questions or comments, please be in touch.


Jonathan Klein
Executive Director
Great Oakland Public Schools

P.S. - I have been deeply flattered by the number of people who have encouraged me to apply for the position. However, I have decided, for a number of reasons, that this is not the right time for me to seek a school board seat. Thank you, as always, for your support.

Superintendent Resignation, Oakland Achieves Report, & More

It has been a busy first part of 2013 for our sister organization, Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center, and we wanted to give you an update on those activities.

Be sure not to miss important and timely updates from GO Leadership Center. Click here to sign up for our sister organization's email list.

Also, as you may know, Superintendent Tony Smith announced his resignation in early April so that he could move to be closer to family in Chicago. Over the last four years, Tony's leadership brought our community together around a shared vision of high quality, full service community schools in every neighborhood. We extend our deepest appreciation to Tony, and wish he and his family all the best.

Click here to read more of our thoughts on Tony's resignation.

The OUSD board last night named Dr. Gary Yee as the Acting Superintendent while they do a comprehensive search for our next Superintendent. We look forward to working with Dr. Yee, who has dedicated so much of his life to Oakland children and public schools, in service of the vision of quality community schools for all students. We applaud the board's decision -- both for ensuring important work continues in the short-term and for setting up Oakland to benefit from a comprehensive search.

Here's an update on on some of our projects: 

 On February 27, GO Leadership Center, along with three partner organizations - Oakland Schools Foundation, Urban Strategies Council, and the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce - released Oakland Achieves: A Public Education Progress Report, an annual report focused on key student outcomes. The report was featured in The San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune, Oakland Local and KTVU Channel 2 News.

Click here to download the report (Spanish version here). In addition, you can view a recording of our Oakland Achieves webinar here.

We know that Oakland's children will do best when we work in deep partnership with their teachers to support their work in the classroom. On March 20, the National Council on Teacher Quality released a study that examines teacher quality policies and practices in OUSD. The study was commissioned by the Oakland Effective Teaching Coalition: Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), SEIU Local 1021, Youth Together, Youth Uprising, GO Public Schools Leadership Center, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Education Trust-West. Click here to read the values of our coalition and read the Executive Summary (in English and Spanish).

We also fielded our first team in the Oakland Running Festival in late March. We not only had the largest team in the festival, one of our team members came in first!

We hope you'll stay engaged with these and other opportunities to support our students. Below are some ways to engage today:

We're excited that the work ahead will be shaped by parent, youth and teacher voices, and we all need to advocate for high-quality supports for our students and teachers.

OUSD Scorecard Updates: How is school quality measured in OUSD?

In December 2012, the OUSD board voted unanimously to accept framework for the Balanced Scorecard, which sets measurable goals for "student achievement" and "operational excellence."  

Great Oakland Public Schools is following along with "OUSD Scorecard Updates" - a series of blog posts sharing updates on the scorecard as it is implemented over the coming months. 

Click here to read the first post in the series, which breaks down how the Balanced Scorecard works.

In this post, we take a look at School Quality, one of the district's goals for "operational excellence." The district's goal for School Quality is: "Every school is a high-quality full-service community school."

The key component for reaching that goal is the School Quality Review, which is based on a set of standards adopted over a year-long engagement process with the Oakland community, and an evaluation that applies those standards. 

In order to reach this goal, the district set a growth target that "75 percent of schools that have gone through School Quality Review (SQR) will improve by the target we set in their subsequent review" which has been set at two rating bands, on a five-band system, or attain one of the top two bands. A school will be reviewed approximately every three years. 

Last year, OUSD implemented a pilot review for 15 schools, focusing on elementary and middle schools. This year, the district reviewed an additional 21 schools, focusing on high schools.

At the April 10 board meeting, the OUSD board heard from a panel of school and district representatives who have been through the piloted process last year.The panel included OUSD's Executive Director for Quality Schools Development, David Montes de Oca, and Valorie Hutson, the Executive Director of Eagle Village Community Center at Westlake Middle School, Misha Karigaca, the principal at Westlake and Jonathan Mayer, principal of Chabot Elementary.  

Watch a video of the panel discussing the Quality School Review process:

The purpose of the School Quality Review, Montes de Oca said, is "to provide a window for our stakeholders into our schools" which includes students, parents, community members and the central office, as well as "provide a mirror to staff, partners and the central office" to "see what is working and what is not working." The process also will help create a database of effective practices for schools to share information and specific examples about quality and what's working.

These are the standards examined during a School Quality Review:

School Quality Standards.jpg

These are the standards the district focused on for schools participating in the pilot program:

Focus Standards 2012.jpg

The total process takes about a year. After a school is reviewed, an evaluation report on the school is developed, so that an accurate picture of the school is presented. Engagements with the principal's supervisor, site staff, parents and community members follows. 

From last year's 15 reviewed schools, the district captured data to show which standards schools received predominately the highest ratings (a "4" or "5", along with the lowest (a "1" or "2.")

Areas where the pilot schools are performing the best:

High school quality review .jpg

Areas where the pilot schools are struggling:
Low School Review .jpg

This data "helps inform the central office in aligning its services," Montes de Oca told the board. For instance, schools are doing well identifying students at risk, and intervening. At the same time, schools are struggling to prepare students for college. Knowing this helps the central office establish expectations, and partnerships for work necessary.
Misha Karigaca, the principal at Westlake, said the process helped his school community build a common understanding around the school's strengths and weaknesses. He noted that he appreciated the review team "lived" at his school for three days, and was pleased with the wide range of people at the school - from parents to custodial staff - who were able to weigh in. "That really gives this report some credibility," he told the board.

Thoughts on Tony Smith's resignation

We were surprised to learn this morning that our superintendent, Tony Smith, has resigned because of a family health emergency and that he is moving to Chicago. His last day will be June 30.

We are sad about Tony leaving and wish he and his family the best. He has served Oakland's children and public schools admirably over the past four years, and has seen our schools through some very challenging times. 

Tony's leadership has stabilized the district, and brought our community together around a shared vision of quality schools for each and every Oakland student. He created spaces for courageous conversations on race, class and poverty. The Thriving Students plan of full service community schools in every neighborhood has broad community ownership.

We have confidence in our school board to select a next leader who will continue driving toward equity and excellence.

Click here to read a letter from the OUSD Board of Education to the Oakland community

Click here to read a letter from Superintendent Smith to the OUSD school board explaining his reasons for resigning

Read news coverage of the resignation in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Oakland Tribune.

Our commitment, as we begin this new chapter, is to continue to keep the Oakland community informed and engaged. This work is bigger than one person, and we will move forward together.   

What is OUSD's Balanced Scorecard Policy?

"We're not looking just looking for the 9th inning score."

That's what OUSD School Board President David Kakishiba said at a February 6, 2013 meeting about the district's Balanced Scorecard, which sets measurable goals for "student achievement" and "operational excellence." 

In December 2012, the OUSD board voted unanimously to accept framework for the Balanced Scorecard, and we are following the progress of implementing the scorecard over the coming months. 

We believe families, teachers, and other community stakeholders should have access to the information they need to make informed decisions about their child's education, and we all need to advocate for effective policies and programs that will help Oakland transform its schools into places where all children can succeed.

In this post, we break down the overall Balanced Scorecard and explain how it works.

Click here to download the Balanced Scorecard.

How the policy works
Implementing the Balanced Scorecard is the OUSD board's top strategic priority of 2013. The Balanced Scorecard has six goals, three for student achievement and three for operational excellence.  

Goals for Student Achievement:
1. Every 9th grader graduates high school prepared to succeed in college and career.
2. Students attend school every day.
3. Racial disparities in student discipline are not evident.

Goals for Operational Excellence:
1. There is high quality instruction in every classroom.
2. Every school is a high-quality full-service community school.
3. Oakland Unified School District is solvent and its financial resources are maximized to improving teaching and learning.

Each of these goals has corresponding, more specific indicators (the policy has a total of 18 indicators). For example, in order to meet the goal that "students attend school every day" the policy has set indicators for: 
  • "Chronic Absence" (# and % of students who are absent from school 10% or more days in a year), 
  • "Attendance" (# and % of students who are present in school 95% or more days in a year) and 
  • "Student Retention" (# and % of 5th graders who attend an OUSD middle school for their 6th grade).
Each indicator then has a corresponding "annual growth target" or "2012-2013 target." The annual growth target for "Chronic Absence" is "decrease by 1% per year the number of students who miss 10% or more of school days in a year for any reason (chronically absent). The chronic absence rate will move from 11% to 10%. The focus for reduction will be targeted on African-American, Latino and Kindergarten/1st grade students."

Chronic Absence screen grab .jpg
Upcoming calendar
Throughout 2013, OUSD is hosting study sessions for each of the six Balanced Scorecard goals. Here are some upcoming meetings:

  • April 10: Graduation
  • April 24: Effective Teaching
  • May 8: School Quality
In August, the directors will be begin evaluating 2012-2013 outcomes for each of the goals:

  • August 14: Attendance, Discipline
  • August 28: Effective Teaching, School Quality
  • September 11: Fiscal Solvency
  • September 25: Graduation

Study Released on Effective Teaching in Oakland

NCTQ Partner Bar (new, day of).jpg
GO's sister organization, GO Public Schools Leadership Center, is part of the Oakland Effective Teaching Coalition, which includes community, labor, social justice, and education organizations in Oakland committed to helping Oakland's students succeed and its teachers be supported in the classroom.  The Effective Teaching Coalition includes:Oakland Community Organizations (OCO)SEIU Local 1021Youth TogetherYouth UprisingGO Public Schools Leadership Centerthe Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Education Trust-West.

Over a year ago, the Effective Teaching Coalition commissioned a study on policies and practices in Oakland impacting effective teaching, and today that study is being released.


The study, completed by the National Council for Teacher Quality, can be downloaded from the GO Leadership Center website here.

The Oakland Effective Teaching Coalition hopes that any actions arising from the NCTQ study include the following values:

  • The teachers in Oakland deserve the communities' support.  The changes we desire, as a coalition, should focus on giving our teachers the support they need to best serve our children.
  • Efforts to address concerns and problems with effective teaching should work in concert with teachers unions, not undermine their ability to collective bargain.
  • Oakland's teachers should be culturally competent and represent the diversity of the community.
  • School communities, along with administrators, should have a meaningful voice in deciding who teaches in their schools.
  • Effective teaching should take student achievement into consideration in ways that consider a diverse set of indicators beyond test scores. 

GO Leadership Center, with partners, releases Oakland Achieves Report

Oakland Achieves Web Slider.png
Our sister organization, Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center (501(c)3), today released Oakland Achieves: A Public Education Progress Report, with three partner organizations (Urban Strategies Council, the Oakland Schools Foundation, and the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce). To read the report, click here to visit GO Leadership Center's website.

Winter Update and Seasons Greetings

Holiday Ask Graphic 2012.jpg
This has been a transformative year for our GO family and Oakland public schools. Check out our holiday newsletters linked below!

As we look back, several highlights stand out:

  • We helped elect three strong leaders to the school board. With input from nearly one hundred members of our network, we endorsed three candidates. Then, our community helped ensure these leaders were elected. Almost 400 individuals made financial contributions. More than 300 volunteers made over 64,000 phone calls and knocked on over 11,500 doors. On Election Day, each of the candidates won in landslide elections.
  • We helped pass Measure J with over 84 percent of the vote, which will provide $475 million to ensure our kids have safe, modern school facilities and access to healthy meals.
  • GO joined the All Kids coalition that successfully called on our school board to give all school communities more local decision-making power. This new policy, passed unanimously by the school board in April, will empower parents and educators to help develop high quality, full-service community schools in every neighborhood.
  • In addition, GO Leadership Center (1) launched a Teacher Policy Fellowship, (2) began convening partners to publish an annual progress report on student outcomes, and (3) commissioned a study on the policies and practices in OUSD that impact teaching effectiveness. These three projects will be a big part of the GO Leadership Center's work in 2013.
Click here to read more in GO Leadership Center's 2012 Holiday Newsletter.

Click here to see photos from the 2012 campaign, and a list of those who donated.

We have momentum. In 2013, we need to take collective responsibility, accelerate the pace of improvement, and focus on results for children.

Your financial support enables us to engage with Oaklanders, advocate for what matters most to students, and build an organization that creates positive change for Oakland's children.

Our mission is our name. We're working to earn it every day. Please consider making a monthly contribution of $5 or more toward our shared vision and efforts this holiday season.

Wishing you and yours happy holidays and a peaceful new year.

Don't miss GO's Holiday Party this Thursday

The end of the year is approaching quickly! As I look at the calendar, I see that today is the last school board meeting of the year and tomorrow is the GO Public Schools Holiday Party!

Thumbnail image for Holiday Party Graphic.png
We'd love for you to join us - the party is from 6-8 pm at the GO office (472 Water Street in Jack London Square), and light holiday snacks and drinks will be provided. We're going to be toasting a great year, while we talk about the elections and all that is to come in the new year. 

We'll also be collecting new and used children's books to donate to the East Bay Children's Book Project.

Please let us know if you'll be able to attend by RSVPing on our website or on Facebook.

Meet new school board members at GO Holiday Party

We've confirmed that at least three of the recently-elected school board members will be joining us at our Congrats_SchoolBoard.jpeg in one week to celebrate the hard work that resulted in election victories on November 6th.

The party is next Thursday, December 13, at the GO office (472 Water Street), from 6 - 8 PM. We'll be providing holiday drinks and snacks.

Jumoke Hinton-Hodge, who was re-elected in District 3, as well as James Harris, the new District 7 board member, and Rosie Torres, the new District 5 board member, will all be there.

We'd love to see you there as well! Please let us know if you'll be able to attend by RSVPing on our website or on Facebook

Celebrate the season with GO!

Seasons greetings! To celebrate the recent election victories and the holidays and share with you what we're planning for 2013, we're having a party! We'd love for you to join us.

Holiday Party Graphic.png
The party is scheduled for Thursday, December 13 at the GO office in Jack London Square (472 Water Street). We'll provide food and drinks, and much of the holiday cheer (we're depending on you to bring some cheer too!).

Please let us know if you'll be able to attend by RSVPing either on our website or on Facebook.

The story of a huge Election Day win for students

Great Oakland Public Schools (GO Public Schools) and Volunteers, Supporters and Allies Win Big In the November Elections, Signaling New Era of Increased Accountability in Oakland

Candidates, Measures and Propositions Backed by GO Public Schools Received City-Wide Support on Election Day Thanks to a Concerted Volunteer Engagement Effort

Click here to see photos from the 2012 campaign, and a list of those who donated.

Oakland, CA - With the election now over and the dust settling, Oakland residents have made their support of Great Oakland Public Schools (GO Public Schools) and its vision for education evident through backing candidates, measures and propositions supported by the education organization.
GO Public Schools and its community partners and allies backed three Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) school board candidates - Jumoke Hinton-Hodge, James Harris, and Rosie Torres - and all three won seats on the board. Additionally, the organization backed Measure J, a local education bond to improve Oakland school facilities, and Propositions 30 and 38, which would bring much needed dollars to schools throughout the state. Measure J also passed, as did Proposition 30.
Big Win 12.png
"We are thrilled by these election results because we believe these individuals will be proactive, student-focused leaders who will work collaboratively and focus on generating resources, fiscal responsibility, and expanding opportunity across the city," said Jonathan Klein, Executive Director of GO Public Schools. "This shows the strength of a community powered effort. When parents and educators from across the city come together and focus on what's good for children, we can get things done."

GO Public Schools is a community advocacy organization based in Oakland that works to empower parent, teacher, business, labor, and community leaders so that, together, they can ensure that every student can attend a great school and every teacher feels supported in the classroom.
"I volunteered my time, recruited neighbors and even walked districts with my kids not only because I believed James Harris would be a great representative for my district, but also because I believe GO is helping improve schools across the city and in the education issues we backed on the ballot," said Mary Prime Lawrence, a mother of three who lives in Oakland's District 7. "I am so proud of all the volunteers who were part of this victory. We're making a difference for students."
During the lead-up to the election, GO Public Schools had nearly 300 volunteers knocking on more than 11,500 doors and making more than 64,000 calls. Additionally, over 300 individuals donated financially to the election effort.
"I came out to phone bank every week for over two months, set up an automatic donation each month, contributed a bit from my paycheck to the effort and even recruited others to volunteers," said Marva McInnis, an Oakland elementary school teacher who has taught for 18 years. "I know that the election results are great news for Oakland's schools. We not only elected effective leaders; we also passed Proposition 30 to avoid budget cuts to schools for one more year."

GO Public Schools began actively engaging parents and educators about the 2012 election in part because they wanted strong leadership on the school board and were concerned that eight of the last 12 school board elections were uncontested. They hosted community meetings, interviewed candidates and sought public input from parents and teachers on OUSD school board candidates and education issues on the ballot. As a result of GO Public Schools' work, all OUSD school board elections were contested and voters had timely, detailed and easy-to-understand information about candidates, propositions and measures.
David Kakishiba, a current OUSD Board Member who has worked with GO Public Schools in the past, stated, "It was good to see so many people interested and engaged about education issues, especially in support of Measure J. I look forward to working with Jumoke, James and Rosie as we implement the OUSD strategic plan and work to improve public schools throughout the city."
Over the coming months, GO Public Schools' plans to launch and continue a number of efforts that will help the community have more information about education issues in the city. GO will also continue supporting parents and teachers to be education leaders and advocates in their community.
Mr. Klein stated, "GO Public Schools knows that the hard work begins now. We want to continue empowering parents and teachers locally and statewide so they are involved in the decision-making process in our schools. With their support, we will advance policies and programs that give every child in Oakland an opportunity to attend a great school and help every teacher access the support they need in their classroom."
GO Public Schools stated that it will leverage the community support that it has developed through years of community outreach to connect with new local and statewide organizations. They will also be a support and hold leaders accountable as they implement Measure J and the OUSD strategic plan - a plan which they have been supportive of since its adoption.


We did it.

Dear friends,

The election results are in, and it's a clean sweep.

Thanks to your hard work and support, Oakland voters are sending Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Rosie Torres, and James Harris to represent students on the school board

This is a transformative victory for Oakland students and it would not have been possible without you.

Our GO network -- nearly 300 individual volunteers -- knocked on more than 11,500 doors and made over 60,000 calls to Oakland voters in support of our candidates. And your generous donations paid for mail that helped ensure voters knew our candidates and what was at stake. Thank you!

We're celebrating tonight, and toasting the commitment and extraordinary effort of so many parents and educators who made this happen.

Tomorrow, we move forward with a new chapter for public education in Oakland. 

Our GO network is committed to ensuring our students have education champions in elected leadership with the skills and values to manifest our vision of an Oakland where all children receive the schooling and support they need to live successful, fulfilling lives.

Thank you for your continued support. This is a very big win for Oakland.

With our deepest thanks,
Jonathan and the GO team

I needed to say this.

Thank you.

We have been working to elect great leaders to the Oakland school board for more than a year. The number and generosity of people involved has been truly inspiring and unprecedented.

All told, nearly 300 volunteers have knocked on over 11,500 doors and made over 64,000 calls to Oakland voters. In the last month, over 100 different people have volunteered each week.

It has been an amazing, community-powered effort. Take a moment and admire your work: click here for a photo gallery of people phone banking click here for a photo gallery of people phone banking and walking neighborhoods, and click here for a video about why folks have been volunteering their time.

Win or lose -- and we're working to win! -- school board elections in Oakland will never be the same. Once sleepy races -- 8 of the last 14 were uncontested -- are now the talk of the town. In recent weeks, our unprecedented effort has been featured in The Oakland Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and on KQED radio. Last week, all three of our candidates were endorsed by both The Oakland Tribune and the East Bay Express.

Please join us tonight for our Election Night Party at Miss Pearl's Jam House in Jack London Square. We'll be keeping our eye on the local races while we watch the national races unfold on TV.

We'd love for you to join us.

Thank you for believing in and investing in our vision of an Oakland where all children receive the schooling and support they need to live successful, fulfilling lives.

Without your support, this would be just another Oakland school board election. Instead, it has the potential to be transformational.

With my deepest thanks, 

Tribune Endorsement: "Role Models for Oakland's Children"

Yesterday, both the Oakland Tribune and East Bay Express endorsed James Harris, Rosie Torres, Jumoke Hinton Hodge, and Jody London for school board.

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The Tribune editorial board said "we sought candidates who would set aside individual agendas to work for the common good" and that we need "leaders who will serve as role models for Oakland's children."

Click here for the Tribune endorsements and here for the East Bay Express story.

Click here to help us ensure voters understand what is at stake. Just 6 days to go.

Give a Shift for Oakland Students

This is it.

Election Day is just one week away, and each candidate we endorsed for the Oakland school board is in a tight race. I recorded a video update with an update last night.

A few hours of your time during this final week can mean the difference between winning and losing on November 6.

Can you commit to one shift between now and next Tuesday?

We need volunteers both to walk neighborhoods and talk to voters about our endorsed candidates - Jumoke Hinton Hodge (District 3), Rosie Torres (District 5) and James Harris (District 7) - as well as to phone bank from the GO office.

We're walking this week on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, and Saturday morning.

Click here to sign up to walk.

We're phone banking every weeknight in the GO office until Election Day, and also this coming Sunday afternoon.

Click here to sign up to phone bank.

Thank you for your time and commitment to Oakland's children this election. Over these past few months, I've seen many of you come down to the GO office to phone bank after a long day of work, or give up part of your valuable weekend time to walk a neighborhood.

If our work resonates with you, if you think it's important to elect strong leaders to the Oakland school board, and hold them accountable, then please sign up for one more shift before Election Day. It could be the difference.

Teachers and Parents for Jumoke Hinton-Hodge


For more than twenty years, Oakland Unified School District Director Jumoke Hinton Hodge has worked in partnership with Oakland residents, parents, leaders, teachers, and organizations to improve education, health and civic engagement in West Oakland, downtown, and throughout the city. For Jumoke, this has meant helping lead the creation of community programs, building successful coalitions with education and health organizations, and serving in leadership positions while investing in the success of local students and neighbors.


Our community of parents, teachers, and community members interviewed candidates for the District 3 school board seat, and the feedback was clear - we need Jumoke Hinton-Hodge on the board for 4 more years. If you are ready to help us get her elected, sign up here to join for a neighborhood walk or phone bank.

Survey Results - Oakland Public Education Listening Campaign

Good_School.pngOver the spring and summer of 2012, GO Public Schools volunteers went door-to-door and did phone banking to talk with Oaklanders about their opinions on public education in our city. We spoke with nearly 800 residents and asked open-ended questions like, "What makes a good school?", "What is the biggest issue facing Oakland today?", and "What makes an effective school board member?".

Most of the survey respondents did not have children or grandchildren in Oakland public schools (nearly two-thirds). Even so, education followed crime as the top issues cited as citywide concerns.  For respondents who were caretakers of current students, a majority indicated convenient location as the primary determining factor in their school choice, a nod to proponents of the importance of high-quality local neighborhood campuses. Quality of curriculum was a distant second in terms of how parents and guardians make decisions about where to send their children to school.
When asked what makes a successful school, good teachers reign supreme. More than 3 in 5 respondents cited this factor, with no other single response garnering a double-digit percentage. Also in a landslide, budget shortages were called out by more than half as the top issue currently confronting Oakland Unified.

Residents were asked to describe the impact that the quality of local schools on their neighborhood. Their responses almost uniformly (in different words) cited the importance of quality schools in shaping local youth and maintaining a healthy community.  

"Strong schools teach our students respect and work ethic along with helping them build the skill sets to succeed in the workplace and become productive citizens. This encourages pride in the area and positive leadership in the community," said one respondent.

We used the information gathered in this survey in addition to feedback from GO families and educators to make endorsements in the November 2012 elections. We looked for candidates and measures that would work towards more resources for our students, safe schools, effective teaching for every child, and creating a school system that ensures a bright future for every child.

See here for a one-pager that we created with these results and our recommendations to Oakland voters.

Let's party on Election Night

How will you feel about public education in Oakland the morning after Election Day?

Will you wake up feeling proud, knowing you helped elect quality leaders to the Oakland school board? Or regretful, knowing there was something else you could have done?

This election is a once-in-four-years opportunity to shape the direction of public education in Oakland. A majority of the school board is at stake. In each race, voters have clear choices about how to move our schools forward.

Election Day is now just two weeks away, which means there are only two weekends left to knock on doors and talk to voters about our candidates. There are also only a few more opportunities to volunteer at a phone bank at the GO office during the week.

We need you at least one more time over the next two weeks. Are you in?

Click here to sign up to walk or phone bank.

After the work is done and the polls close, please join us to celebrate the hard work of the campaign and to watch the local and national results unfold. On Tuesday, November 6, we're planning to gather at Miss Pearl's Jam House in Jack London Square for an extended happy hour menu and good company. We'd love for you to join us.

Please let us know if you plan to attend the GO Election Night Party by RSVPing here.

Thank you for your time and the inspiring effort you've put forth for our children this election season.

Let's finish stron

Will our next City Council members support Education?

Vote_Button.jpgWill our next City Council members support Oakland's students?

We asked each of the candidates for City Council to respond to ten questions about Oakland education issues. Questions such as:

  • What specific actions will you take to ensure students have safe routes to and from school?
  • Of the city's current initiatives in support of ensuring all students have access to a high quality education, which do you think are the most effective? Are there initiatives you would eliminate or change?
  • Do you support state revenue initiatives Proposition 30, Proposition 38, or local Measure J - OUSD's facilities bond measure to ensure safe, healthy schools?
We hope to help voters understand how different council candidates would (or would not) work to partner, collaborate, prioritize, and leverage resources to support our children and schools.

All candidates received the initial request via email and were sent two follow up emails encouraging them to respond. We will post any additional responses that come in after this email to our website.

Click on a candidate's name below for their answers.

Together, the city council and school board control approximately $1.6 billion annually to invest in services and support for our community.

These races are critically important for our children and youth across the city. Thanks for taking time to review this important information and for being an "education voter" this election day. Please consider sharing this non-partisan information with your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and list serves.

List of candidates
Candidates are listed in the same order they appear on the Office of the City Clerk's list of qualified candidates:

District 1
Leonard Raphael (Did not return survey)

Dan Kalb (Did not return survey)

Craig Brandt (Did not return survey)

Gordon A. "Don" Link (Did not return survey)

District 3

Sean Sullivan (Did not return survey)

Derrick Muhammad (Did not return survey)

District 5
Shelly Garza (Did not return survey)
Mario Juarez (Did not return survey)

District 7

Larry Reid (Did not return survey)

At Large

Ignacio De La Fuente (Did not return survey)

Rebecca Kaplan (Did not return survey)

Theresa Anderson-Downs (Did not return survey)

Mick Storm (Did not return survey)

VIDEO: Phone banking at the GO office

Last night was a great night at the GO office. Feeling inspired by parents and teachers dedicating their time to phone bank for a great school board, I grabbed a camera and interviewed some of our volunteers. We've been averaging over 60 volunteers per week - parents, teachers, principals, and community members. It's been amazing.

You have to hear from Avi, a teacher in East Oakland, about why he came to make calls after a long day of teaching. It's also interesting to listen to Karen, a parent of three OUSD students, share about the surprising thing that is fun for her about phone banking.

Deanita, an OUSD parent and employee, really summed it up for me when she said, "it is so important that we get out and do the things we believe in that will make our city better."

Watch the video below for more:

I know each of you have an inspiring story to tell as well -- a reason this work to strengthen Oakland public schools resonates with you. Election day is just around the corner, and we need everyone's help in making this final push.

Sign up here to phonebank - we've only got 11 phone bank nights left before the election!

You can also sign up here to join us this Saturday when we knock on doors to talk to voters.

Also, some of our members will be hosting a BBQ this Saturday after our walk to thank all the volunteers who walk with us that morning. You won't want to miss the Indian-Mexican tacos! Sign up to walk with us and relax and socialize at the BBQ afterwards. Details coming to all RSVPed volunteers soon!

2012 Education Voter Guide

There is so much at stake for Oakland children and youth in this election. 

Four of seven school board seats are being contested. The school board controls a $600 million annual budget and makes key decisions about goals, curriculum, and programs for students. There are also three key measures that will bring much needed resources to our public schools.

With all this mind, we present to you our 2012 Education Voter Guide.
Our network of families and educators has interviewed candidates, and we've researched the state and local initiatives.
We endorse Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Rosie Torres, and James Harris as the best choices for Oakland students and schools. They are strong leaders who will work with the community and focus on solutions. 
All 3 endorsements graphic.png
We also support the YES for Education campaign and urge you to vote YES on Measure J, YES on Proposition 30, and YES on Proposition 38.
Measure J will bring $475 million to ensure Oakland schools are safe and healthy, and that students and teachers have the technology they need. Here's an article from the Bay Citizen about the improvements to school kitchens and food that Measure J will bring to our children.
Voting YES on both Propositions 30 and 38 ensures that our public schools don't face more unacceptable cuts to core programs.
Visit our website for more information about the candidates and for analysis and information about the propositions.
Please pass on the Education Voter Guide to friends and colleagues across the community. Together, we can make sure November 6 is a transformative day for Oakland students and schools.

Time is not on our side

Election Day will be here in less than a month. This is the time when we are counting on your support to help elect effective leaders to the Oakland school board.

If you've made a committment to participate this election season, now is the time to follow through.

Our goal is to connect with 4,800 voters this weekend, and talk to them about the candidates we've endorsed in District 7 (James Harris), District 5 (Rosie Torres), and District 3 (Jumoke Hinton Hodge).

On Saturday, we're meeting up in the following locations at 10am to walk door-to-door to talk with voters. We'd love to have you join us.

  • District 3 (to support Jumoke Hinton Hodge): Meet at Whole Foods near Westlake
  • District 5 (to support Rosie Torres): Meet at Edna Brewer Middle School in Glenview
  • District 7 (to support James Harris): Meet at Bishop O'Dowd High School off 98th & Golf Links
Sign up here to join us.

If you can't make it out to walk this weekend, we need help phone banking as well. We're calling voters about our endorsed candidates Monday through Thursday, starting at 5:30pm. Dinner is provided. 

Sign up to phone bank here.

It is so inspiring for our GO staff to support you -- our incredibly busy and dedicated network of educators and families who are making time for this work -- to make our collective voice and impact felt on election day. Our children and youth deserve to have the best educational leaders.

Vote-by-mail ballots are going out this week, and we need to communicate with voters before they cast their ballots.

We don't want to wake up the morning after Election Day and wonder if we could have done more. I look forward to seeing you out there.

Wondering what it's like to go door-to-door for a school board candidate? Jessica shared some pictures and reflections from her recent neighborhood walk here.

This Saturday I skipped the farmer's market

By: Jessica Stewart

This Saturday I skipped the farmer's market.

On Saturday morning, you can usually find me at the Grand Lake Farmer's Market in the sun buying and eating various tasty things. It's often my favorite part of the week.

Don't get me wrong - when I rolled out of bed I would have rather headed there than to a neighborhood walk to go door-to-door for a school board candidate. But I also know that James Harris, the candidate running for school board in East Oakland's District 7, is a truly good man. He is a former teacher like myself and grew up in East Oakland where he's now raising his kids. We really need people like him on the school board representing families and students.

So I headed out, my amazing husband Jon in tow, to East Oakland to meet several others on the corner near International and 98th Avenue where Elmhurst Community Prep, the school at which I was a founding teacher in 2006 where we met Richard.

Richard kicked us off by asking us to share why we're doing this work today. I looked around the circle - a group of very busy people with lives full of other things to do - and felt grateful to be with them. On a great Saturday afternoon, with a host of other things they could be doing, they were out fighting for Oakland kids.

2012-09-29 10.09.43 HDR.jpgRichard paired us up and taught us how to walk a neighborhood (how to use our list of voters, what to say, and what to do if no one is home). After answering some questions, he assigned us our blocks and we headed out.

My husband and I walked a few blocks to our assigned blocks and started knocking on doors across the street from each other. It took us a moment to get our system down, but we were in a groove pretty quickly.

While we walked, we saw most of what you'd expect on a Saturday morning in a residential area - lots of car washing, a little girl's birthday being set up with pink and yellow balloons and party hats, and people tending to lawns. I had to compliment a few people who answered their doors on gorgeous landscaping. I even took a few pictures to remember ideas for the future home that I don't yet own.

2012-09-29 11.00.45 HDR.jpgTogether, Jon and I knocked on about 150 doors. At about half the doors, no one answered and I left a postcard on their door. Most of the time when I spoke with a voter, they were pleasant and smiled when I told them that I "don't normally do this" door-to-door walking but I really think James is a great guy and would be a good school board member. My favorites were when someone would tell me they were definitely voting for James and thank me for being out here helping his campaign.

Jon joined me at the door when I had one more house left - and we hit the jackpot. We met Mr. Johnson, who currently works at Elmhurst. We had a great long conversation about the school, kids, and school board. He's supporting James Harris now and promised to tell others. I walked away from his door smiling and told Jon that I'm glad we've got more time between now and the election.

2012-09-29 10.32.10.jpgAs much as I love the farmer's market, you probably won't see me there for the next four weeks. This election is just a month away and I've got more voters to talk to before then.

"A couple weeks from now ..."

"A couple weeks from now" will be too late. Here's what I mean:

Committing to one day a week to phone bank or knock on doors for our candidates will help our candidates win on Election Day. 

Can you join me Saturday morning from 10am - 2pm to walk door-to-door, or come to our office on Monday night at 5pm for a phone bank? If so, contact Jonathan ( or Jessica ( to let us know.

If those dates don't work, let us know what dates work for you. We're phone banking Monday through Thursday, and walking door-to-door every Saturday.

Now is the time. We need your help now, or else we will miss our chance.


GO Endorses Rosie Torres for Oakland School Board in District 5

After a thorough community review of all school board candidates in District 5, our board has unanimously endorsed Rosie TorresThe election will be held on November 6, 2012.

Rosie is the recipient of a California public school education, the proud mother of a child thriving in the Oakland public schools, a successful business owner, attorney, wife, community activist, and a dedicated volunteer. She is passionate about public education because it transformed her life, and she will fight to ensure that all Oakland students have access to great public schools.

Rosie_Torres_endorsement .jpg

The GO Board--through surveys, interviews, and member feedback on all candidates--found that Rosie possesses the communication and leadership skills, values, and vision to make a great impact for Oakland's students.

Rosie is also supported by the National Women's Political Caucus, SEIU 1021, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, and East Bay Young Democrats.

GO has endorsed candidates in two other school board races - Jumoke Hinton Hodge in District 3 and James Harris in District 7. Scroll down for more information on Jumoke and James.

We're excited to support Rosie, James, and Jumoke, and we think each is poised to support great gains for Oakland students. Now we're going to need you to help get them elected. Here's how you can help:

           1. Sign up to phone bank or walk a neighborhood over the next two months.

           2. Donate $5 or more to provide the resources we need to support these candidates.

These elections are an extraordinary opportunity to change the conversation about public education in Oakland to focus on our students. Let's all do what we can to ensure we win - there's only 57 days left until the election.


About Jumoke Hinton Hodge, District 3 (West Oakland, Downtown, Adams Point) 

Director Hinton-Hodge was first elected to the school board in 2008. During her first term, she helped to develop and guide "Thriving Students" an ambitious strategic plan for the Oakland Unified School District; sponsored the District's "A-G" requirements ensuring all students have access the courses necessary for college; and was instrumental in selecting and hiring Superintendent Tony Smith. Director Hinton-Hodge also lead the effort to create a district wide restorative justice policy to address discipline practices under which disproportionate numbers of African-American and Latino students were being expelled from school. She is currently the Program Director at People's Grocery in West Oakland.

"Jumoke is a parent and a caring community member with deep roots in Oakland. In her four years on the school board she has learned to effectively work with others and navigate the system," said Dr. Washington Burns, a community leader in District 3 and GO Board member. "She is a consistent voice for equity. She is an asset on the school board for students and families now, and will continue to be if she is re-elected."

About James Harris, District 7 (East Oakland) 

James Harris is a former high school English teacher and active in the Oakland education community. He is on the board of Aim High and was a founding member of Great Oakland Public Schools. An innovative and strategic thinker, James will be a force for civility, teamwork, and progress on the School Board.

"James is a parent and a former teacher. He understands the complex issues at play in the Oakland Unified School District. He will work hard to make the schools better for our children," said Mary Prime Lawrence, East Oakland resident, mother of three students and GO Board member. "We need James on the School Board because he is dedicated to putting children first. He knows how to forge alliances to create success."

It's Crunch Time

There are only nine weeks until the general election on November 6, and five weeks until vote by mail ballots are sent out.

This is crunch time. 

I write to share a short video update on our campaign to elect quality school board members in Oakland.


Take a moment and pull out your calendar and see when you can commit to phone banking and walking for our candidates. Then sign up here.

Your commitment of one day a week to phone bank or knock on doors for our candidates will go a long way to making sure we are successful on Election Day. 

Click here to sign up to phone bank or walk for our candidates.

Now is the time. Let's not leave anything on the table.

My best,
Jonathan Klein
Executive Director
Great Oakland Public Schools

P.S. Every donation of $5 or more helps us connect with more Oakland voters about the importance of the school board elections. Make sure you're included among the more than 200 Oaklanders who have already contributed!

Opposing AB5 - We need a more thoughtful approach for teacher development

AB5 is a deeply important and deeply flawed California bill that would reform a teacher evaluation system with which everyone if dissatisfied.  

Wednesday night--at 8:00 P.M., at the meeting called with no more than 30 minutes notice--the Senate Education Committee voted to advance AB5 without even having the language of some promised amendments in front of them to read.

For the past couple of weeks, GO has been working with a growing coalition of the organizations from across California in opposition to AB5. In the course of this time, we have seen power politics and the "sausage making" of the state legislation play out in real time. During these conversations, students were almost entirely absent from the conversation replaced, instead, with adult concerns from all sides.  

Legislation was hastily drafted and redrafted.  Hearings were called on very short notice. People whose entire job it is to track these developments, would barely keep abreast of what was happening - all because powerful people were trying to hurry this bill into law in the last moments of this legislative session.

GO Public Schools joins a long list of organizations in (see below for a list of other organizations sharing GO's concerns) opposes to Assembly Bill 5 (Fuentes), legislation related to implementing a teacher evaluation system.  Editorial boards from around the state have weighed in to oppose this bill:

Below is a list of issues that should be addressed before this bill is passed.  We support the ongoing improvement of the evaluation system and view evaluations as part of a ongoing system for professional development, however, as of the night before the vote, and not knowing what the actual last minute amendments will be, we feel the AB5 is not a good bill for students for many reasons, including the following:

  • AB 5 imposes a costly mandate on all districts but provides funding only for start-up costs at schools that receive QEIA funds
  • AB 5 removes local decision making for additional QEIA monies by directing those funds towards implementing a new teacher evaluation system.
  • AB 5 prohibits the State board of Education from waiving the best practices teacher evaluation system in order for a school district to add additional measurements.
  • AB 5 reduces local control by limiting the ability of local governing boards to act on objective data to hold employees accountable.
  • AB 5 does not meet federal requirements in order for California to receive the federal NCLB waiver.
  • AB prevents any meaningful gauge of student growth in evaluations and invites disputes over allowable evidence of student learning.
  • AB 5 expands the scope of collective bargaining for school districts.  Evaluation criteria and standards for satisfactory performance would be subjects of bargaining, weakening an LEA's ability to hold teachers accountable.
  • AB 5 repeals grade level proficiency.  There would no longer be a default provision in California law requiring performance evaluations of teachers and principals to include the assessment of the progress of pupils toward expected grade level achievement.
  • AB 5 places the program under the new mandate block grant replacing the less costly Stull Act.  The new block grant should be adjusted to reflect the increase in mandates resulting from AB 5 estimated to be $18 million annually with some estimates considerably higher.

Organizations opposing AB5

  • Alliance for a Better Community
  • Association of California School Administrators
  • Bay Area Council
  • California Association of School Business Officials
  • California Association of Suburban Schools
  • California County Superintendents Educational Services Association
  • California School Boards Association
  • California State PTA
  • Central Valley Education Coalition
  • Children Now
  • Democrats for Education Reform
  • Ed Voice
  • Educate our State
  • Educators 4 Excellence
  • El Dorado County Office of Education
  • Families in Schools
  • Great Oakland Public Schools
  • Green Dot Public Schools
  • Kern County Superintendent of Schools
  • Los Angeles County Office of Education Superintendent of Schools, Arturo Delgado
  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa
  • Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John E. Deasy
  • Parents Advocate League
  • Riverside County Office of Education 
  • Riverside County School Superintendents' Association
  • Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Kenneth M. Young
  • San Bernardino County District Advocates for Better Schools
  • San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools
  • San Diego County Office of Education
  • San Francisco Unified School District
  • School Employers Association of California
  • Small Schools Districts' Association
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • Students First
  • Students Matter
  • Teach +Plus
  • The Education Trust West
  • United Way of Greater Los Angeles

We oppose AB 5 (Teacher Evaluation) unless amended

Last week, we joined a coalition of student-focused organizations in opposing Assembly Bill 5 unless it is amended. Please see the letter below, written to the bill's author, Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes (D-39th District). 

We believe AB 5 would weaken state level policies that support effective teaching and accountability for student growth, and could seriously undermine California's request to the Federal Department of Education for a waiver of No Child Left Behind.

You can find additional coverage of the bill from EdSource (here) and the Los Angeles Times (here).


"I had an amazing time..."

ChrisW.png"I had an amazing time at GO's Garden Party last summer! The garden was beautiful, I met so many educators, parents, and professionals from across Oakland, and we had the most delicious food and drinks. Looking forward to this year's party! Thanks for convening us again!" - Christopher Williams

Christopher is a Citizen Schools educator at United For Success Academy in Oakland. He, along with many of you, had a fantastic time at last year's Garden Party.

Have you gotten your ticket for this year's event on Saturday, August 18th?

If not, secure your spot today by donating $50 or more here. This is not an event you want to miss, and it benefits a great cause! Please don't wait -- the party is only a few weeks away!

Visit our Garden Party Information Page to see details.

Enjoy the weekend and thanks for contributing!

My best,


P.S. We've got a great lineup of restaurants joining us! See below for a few that will be serving food that day.


Paid for by GO-PAC, Sponsored by Great Oakland Public Schools. Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.

Contributions to GO-PAC are not tax-deductible. The law requires GO-PAC to publicly disclose contributors' names, street addresses, occupations and employers. GO-PAC may accept contributions in any amount, and may accept contributions from individuals, corporations, other types of business entities, nonprofit organizations, labor unions, and other PACs. The PAC may not accept contributions from foreign nationals.

Throwdown for the Town: Talking with Voters about Education


Originally posted at Ella's Voice, the blog of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

Great Oakland Public Schools is a nonprofit organization that connects and activates an informed community network to advance policies that ensure all Oakland students have the opportunity to attend quality public schools. We are a coalition of parents, teachers, principals, and community leaders who live and work throughout this city.

GO Public Schools believes that great school board leadership is needed to ensure all kids have access to a great school.

This summer, GO is doing a listening campaign to gather input from a diverse group of Oaklanders about public education in this city. Our survey questions are open-ended and allow participants to share their opinions about a number of issues, such as the biggest challenges facing the city of Oakland, what makes a great school, and what qualities they are looking for in school board candidates. Read all of our survey questions here

One goal of our survey is to increase the dialogue about the need for school board members to address the challenges facing our schools and our children. Click here to watch a video of GO Member, Sara Nuno, as she explains her experience surveying Oakland residents.

Another GO Member, Joe Ventura, recently wrote a blog about his experience walking the GO survey in two Oakland neighborhoods. Here is one of his key takeaways:

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 they've got plenty of thoughts on how to improve them. On my walks, I've met with journalists, janitors, retirees, and teachers, who are delighted to finally be asked their opinion on how to improve our schools. Just because they don't show up at school board meetings doesn't mean they don't care about improving our students' educational opportunities.

Join GO Public Schools as we continue our survey work during The Ella Baker Center's Throw Down for the Town on Saturday, July 28th.

Photo by Hasain Rasheed.

Camp Educate in Oakland

CAMPEDUCATELOGO-voicevote.jpgGO would like to the pass along a unique political training opportunity called Camp Educate. This day-long workshop is being hosted by one of our partner organizations, Educate Our State, which is a parent-led, statewide campaign to unite the voices of Californians in support of high-quality K-12 public education and demand real change.

Camp Educate is geared towards parents who are looking to make a difference this election year by drawing attention to the importance of people voting in order to collectively raise our voices in the name of children. Whether it is the state-wide initiatives, your local statewide representative, or your school board member - all of these elections are important for our children. We need great leadership and great policy in order to ensure great education for our children. 

Camp Educate will take place on Saturday, August 18 from 9:30am-3pm at the James Irvine Conference Center in Downtown Oakland. If you would like to attend, RSVP here and email Jessica so that we know who in the GO network will be attending.

We did it!

First_Goal_Met.pngWe did it! We set a goal of 100 donors by June 30th, and because of you we met that goal.

Thank you so much for your contribution to help elect great school board members this November. The money will be crucial as we begin to reach out to voters in the next few months to encourage them to support our endorsed candidates.

We have momentum now -- this grassroots fundraising campaign will continue through August 15, and we have more money to raise. Our next milestone is 200 donors by the end of July.

We'd like to celebrate the opening of the new school year and kick off the election season with you at our 3rd Annual Garden Party on Saturday, August 18th - please mark your calendar to join us.

The next step is to spread the word to neighbors, colleagues, and friends. Can we count on you to make 5 phone calls or send 10 emails to ask others to join our efforts? They can donate here.

Click here to learn about how you can join us by creating your personal fundraising page.

Onward to victory on November 6th.


Paid for by GO-PAC, Sponsored by Great Oakland Public Schools.

Contributions to GO-PAC are not tax-deductible. The law requires GO-PAC to publicly disclose contributors' names, street addresses, occupations and employers. GO-PAC may accept contributions in any amount, and may accept contributions from individuals, corporations, other types of business entities, nonprofit organizations, labor unions, and other PACs. The PAC may not accept contributions from foreign nationals.

Photos by Hasain Rasheed.

Needed: Outgoing People, Good Listeners, and Computer Lovers

We want for your help with some of the work that Great Oakland Public Schools is taking on this summer.

There's something for everyone - we have opportunities for people who like to get out and meet fellow Oaklanders, those who like to do computer-based work, and those who are interested in getting on the phone to help survey our neighbors as part of our listening campaign.

Can you help? Sign up today for one of the following opportunities now!

Laurel Street Fair Volunteers
Saturday, August 11th - Volunteers will distribute flyers and talk to people about GO and the work we do to ensure that all Oakland children have access to quality public schools. We will provide all of the supplies, materials, and talking points you will need to successfully represent GO. The fair takes place on MacArthur between 35th and 38th Avenues in Oakland's Laurel Neighborhood.

Listening Campaign Phone Banking
Our summer listening campaign is in full swing! We're calling Oaklanders to ask them open-ended questions on their thoughts on Oakland education. This will help us learn what our community wants from our schools and help Oaklanders know about Great Oakland Public Schools so that they can get involved. We're learning and growing our network at the same time! Phone banks happen at the GO office, and dinner is provided. Phone banks are from 5:30 PM - 8 PM.

Listening Campaign Data Entry
Volunteers will help enter the information we're learning on our listening campaign when we go door-to-door and do phone-banking. This can be done at the GO office, or from home with your own computer.

We look forward to seeing all of you this summer!

Video Update from Jonathan Klein

It's Wednesday afternoon, and I just recorded a quick video update for you about our campaign to help elect a great school board in Oakland. We need your help - check out the message below and get involved. We have four days left to reach our goal!

Also - Save the date for our Garden Party! On Saturday, August 18th, we'll be gathering to enjoy great food and drink while kicking off the election season. Every donor to our campaign will be invited to join us - make your contribution today!



Paid for by GO-PAC, Sponsored by Great Oakland Public Schools. Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.

Contributions to GO-PAC are not tax-deductible. The law requires GO-PAC to publicly disclose contributors' names, street addresses, occupations and employers. GO-PAC may accept contributions in any amount, and may accept contributions from individuals, corporations, other types of business entities, nonprofit organizations, labor unions, and other PACs. The PAC may not accept contributions from foreign nationals.

"There's no better way to experience our city..."

Joe_Ventura.jpgBy: 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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

Welcoming Maya Robles-Wong to the GO team this summer

Maya.jpgWe want to officially welcome Maya Robles-Wong to the GO Public Schools team as a 2012 Summer Fellow! A Bay Area native, Maya is no stranger to the education world - she is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit about inadequate school funding in California.

Maya is a rising sophomore at Wellesley College in Massachusetts where she plans on minoring in Education Studies. She enjoys rowing with the Wellesley Crew team as well as working with young students at Wellesley's Child Study Center and volunteering at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Collaborative where she is involved in their after school program. She believes that in order to support students it is essential that they receive adequate attention and excellent resources. She is very excited to have the opportunity to help work towards achieving these goals during her time at GO this summer.

GO Endorses 3 in race for Oakland School Board

This November, Oaklanders will elect 4 new school board members. While many voters will have the presidential contest at the top of their minds, the results of these school board races will have tremendous impact for our students. This board makes major decisions that impact our children every day - including hiring and evaluating the Superintendent, setting budget priorities, negotiating with district employees, and directing dollars for school facilities.

After a thorough review of all candidates in Districts 3 (West Oakland, Downtown, Adams Point) and District 7 (East Oakland), GO has chosen to dually endorse Jumoke Hinton-Hodge and Sheilagh Polk in District 3 and to endorse James Harris in District 7.

If we are successful in electing these candidates, they are poised to make major improvements for Oakland students. But it will take all of us working together to get them elected - here are two ways we need you to help today:

  1. Donate $25 or more to GO PAC to provide the resources we need to support these candidates.
  2. Sign up to phone bank or walk a neighborhood with our community survey over the next two months.

These endorsements are the result of questionnaires, interviews, and member feedback on all candidates. The election is in November 2012 and will utilize Oakland's Ranked Choice Voting method of choosing a winner.

Scroll down for more information on each endorsed candidate. Come meet these candidates tomorrow night at our end of the year celebration at the Jack London Square Market! Click here to RSVP.

District 3 (West Oakland, Downtown, Adams Point) - Jumoke Hinton-Hodge and Sheilagh Polk

Director Hinton-Hodge was first elected to the school board in 2008. During her first term, she helped to develop and guide "Thriving Students" an ambitious strategic plan for the Oakland Unified School District; sponsored the District's "A-G" requirements ensuring all students have access the courses necessary for college; and was instrumental in selecting and hiring Superintendent Tony Smith. Director Hinton-Hodge also lead the effort to create a district wide restorative justice policy to address discipline practices under which disproportionate numbers of African-American and Latino students were being expelled from school. She is currently the Program Director at People's Grocery in West Oakland.

"Jumoke is a parent and a caring community member with deep roots in Oakland. In her four years on the school board she has learned to effectively work with others and navigate the system," said Dr. Washington Burns, a community leader in District 3 and GO Board member. "She is a consistent voice for equity. She is an asset on the school board for students and families now, and will continue to be if she is re-elected."

Sheilagh Polk, whose daughter is an OUSD student, is a long-time education leader who lives in West Oakland. She has been involved in many education campaigns, including the successful campaign to mandate the "A-G" standards in Oakland and Los Angeles Unified. She has worked for Education Trust West, a leading statewide education policy advocacy organization. Ms. Polk is currently the Director of Communications for Coaching Corps (formerly known as Team Up for Youth).

"Sheilagh understands the Oakland public schools from the perspective of a current parent," said David Stein, District Three resident, father of a current Oakland public school student and Vice President of the GO Board. "She brings a vision and level of passion that our school board needs. She's not running for this seat to be a politician, she's running to fight for our students and make Oakland public schools better."

District 7 (East Oakland) - James Harris

James Harris is a former high school English teacher and active in the Oakland education community. He is on the board of Aim High and was a founding member of Great Oakland Public Schools. An innovative and strategic thinker, James will be a force for civility, teamwork, and progress on the School Board.

"James is a parent and a former teacher. He understands the complex issues at play in the Oakland Unified School District. He will work hard to make the schools better for our children," said Mary Prime Lawrence, East Oakland resident, mother of three students and GO Board member. "We need James on the School Board because he is dedicated to putting children first. He knows how to forge alliances to create success."

Paid for by GO-PAC, sponsored by Great Oakland Public Schools.  Not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.

Action Alert: GO Neighborhood Walks


As you know, in order to have great schools for every Oakland child, we need great school board leadership. That's why this November's school board elections are a major focus for GO. We are about to start our first big project in this arena, and we need your help.

This month and next, we'll be walking neighborhoods with a survey to help us understand what Oaklanders are thinking about school board elections and introduce them to Great Oakland Public Schools. Will you join us and your neighbors and commit to spending one shift (a few hours) walking a neighborhood or calling fellow Oaklanders in the next two months? Jessica got the chance to pair up with her friend Mary a few weeks back to go door-to-door with our survey in hand. They had a great time getting to know people in Mary's neighborhood. Here's a blog Jess wrote about her experience.

Sign up here: to let us know when you can help out. It's going to take all of us to make this change in Oakland, and we can't wait until we are celebrating success in November. We can do this.

See you out there!

My reflections on interviewing school board candidates

Mirella.Rangel.JPGBy: Mirella Rangel
On Saturday, April 28th, 2012, I participated in a GO Public Schools event to get to know the candidates in regions 3 (mostly West Oakland and Downtown) and 7 (deep East Oakland). We interviewed all candidates in those two districts. While the role of a School Board member is daunting and difficult, I was impressed by the commitment of the candidates.
Each day I discuss the state of public education in Oakland and there seem to be no easy answers, but what struck me in the interviews was the impact of public accountability on the school district and school board members. Many candidates mentioned Oakland Community Organization (OCO) and their impact on school board policies. I myself, being a fan of OCO's work, have seen how their impetus along with a coalition of parents, teachers, non-profit organizations, and community members, launched many of the successful small schools that Oakland Leaf partners with: ASCEND, Urban Promise Academy, Think College Now, International Community School, and EnCompass Academy.

Mirella Quote.jpgI often hear people criticize our educational system and leadership. In fact, critique is one thing that we do VERY well. But if we aren't paying attention to decisions that matter and decisions that are directly in our hands, how can we throw stones while we sit in our glass houses of apathy?  Let me be clear, I myself have been guilty of this. When it came to pointing fingers, I blamed leadership, but when it was my turn to vote, I can honestly say that I didn't do my research. If I paid just 1/10th of the time and attention that I spent thinking about, arguing about, and pondering the school board elections as I have with with the presidential elections, I could claim that I was an informed voter, but I wasn't.  I know that I am not alone, and it isn't too late to turn the tide.
This next school board cannot be determined by the very few. Our dwindling resources have left us in a state of fighting over crumbs and mired in the politics of divide and conquer. It is all hands on deck. I hope that the work of GO Public Schools will help re-energize the young visionaries, revolutionaries, and community change makers who work tirelessly to bring about a better Oakland. We have come so far, but have so much more to go.

Want to get involved with Mirella? Sign up for a neighborhood survey walk in May or June.

School Board Candidate Endorsement Process Opens

Great Oakland Public Schools (501c4) is preparing to embark on a process to consider endorsing candidates for school board for the November 2012 election. Our board of directors, based on their understanding of mature candidate fields in Districts 3 and 7, has approved a motion to open the endorsement process in these two districts.

The steps of the process will be as follows:

1) We invite candidates to submit written responses to this questionnaire (which refers to our Core Values, listed here). Responses will help inform our endorsements and will be posted to our website. Please return this to Jessica via email no later than Monday, April 23rd at 5pm.

2) On Saturday, April 28th, we invite candidates to participate in an in-person interview with our board and members. We anticipate the interview to last about half an hour and be recorded so that our members may watch the video and so that it can be posted on our website. GO members (those who have paid membership dues by March 1st) will be invited to participate in these interviews. We anticipate these interviews will be held between 9AM and 1PM - please let Jessica know if you have a preference of time during this window and we will try to accommodate your request.

3) GO members will be given the chance to provide feedback and input after viewing the questionnaire and interview videos.

4) The GO Board of Directors will consider the input of the membership in assessing the extent to which a candidate supports GO's Core Values and Policy Agenda, will be an effective leader, and will be a viable candidate.

5) The Board will then decide whether or not to make an early endorsement (before the filing deadline) of one or more candidates.

Please reach out to Jonathan or Jessica with any questions.

Door to Door in Mary's Neighborhood: My Reflections

Las Palmas.jpgBy: Jessica Stewart

After a long rainy week, it was refreshing to have nice weather outside this past Monday night as I got the chance to gather with other members of the Great Oakland Public Schools network at Mary Prime Lawrence's home in East Oakland's Las Palmas neighborhood.

GO is embarking on a campaign (a follow-up from our listening campaign this past fall) to go out and hear from our neighbors across the city about what they are thinking about public education in our city. With feedback from small groups across the city, we've developed a survey that we will be using to talk with neighbors at their doors and on the phone over the next few months.

After a quick pizza dinner together, several of us headed out to meet Mary's neighbors and ask their opinions on our survey. I was lucky enough to be in a group of three with Mary, Maureen (one of Mary's neighbors from around the block and a former Oakland principal), and myself.

I say "lucky" because Mary knows just about everyone in her neighborhood. As we went from home to home, Mary could tell us a bit about each family (and their pets). When we met the rare neighbor that Mary had not already met, she wasted no time introducing herself and pointing out that she lived in the house "with the pink flag in front".

We had so many great conversations as we shared our survey. We talked with Byron, who was taking advantage of the nice weather before the rain started to get his lawn mowed. We had a long conversation with Felipe, who told us about being very involved in his children's Head Start when they were little and about his views on parental involvement being crucial to student success.

We spoke with Kim, who is good friends with lots of Oakland teachers across the city and was one of the most cheerful people I have interacted with - ever. We got to meet cute dogs through the window at many houses and even pet a few little ones as they were being walked by their owners. We shared smiles with neighbors driving by and walking by. We talked with Jack, who was very enthusiastic and wanted to introduce us to his wife. His kids were OUSD students, but he shared that his grandchildren are going to private schools because they're not confident in our public schools right now.

As we finished up, we met back in Mary's living room where her kids had gotten home from a hike they took (they were enjoying their spring break!) and shared our takeaways from the time we spent surveying neighbors.

My biggest personal takeaway?  Our city is filled with hopeful people who deeply desire great public schools and want their kids to go to a nearby quality school with other kids in the neighborhood. GO's role is to listen to their hopes and help do what we can to support them to make it happen.

Join me on our next survey walk - it will take all of us to make this change for our children.

Who is GO Public Schools?

Vee.JPGOver the past few weeks, we've been asking some of the members of our movement to share their stories and hopes are for public education in our city. We're calling it the "I Am GO" Project.

GO Public Schools is a diverse coalition of parents, teachers, school leaders, and community members from across the city, and we hope that this project begins to highlight all of the different people who are coming together for our students in this movement. Click here to see the first several stories.

Allison.JPGIf you would like to be a part of the "I am GO" project and share your story about your hopes for education in our city and why you are involved with Great Oakland Public Schools, please send a 3-4 sentence statement and a picture to Jessica.

Announcing Summer Fellowship Applications

Summer_Fellowship_Logo.pngClick here for a printable version of this posting.

About GO Public Schools
Great Oakland Public Schools supports a coalition of Oakland families, students, teachers, principals, community, and civic leaders united around a positive, student‐oriented vision for public education in our city. Our mission is to provide leadership, advocacy and information to ensure that all Oakland students have access to excellent public schools in their neighborhood and throughout the city.

About the Fellowship
GO Public Schools offers education advocates the opportunity to make an impact on public education in the City of Oakland through a variety of fellowship opportunities.  We are seeking fellows to focus one or more of the following projects: (1) community outreach, (2) teaching policy, (3) and our Garden Party fundraiser.

This is a part-time, unpaid fellowship, may involve some travel around Oakland. The fellowship commitment is from mid-June through mid-August at approximately 20 hours per week. See below for details on how to apply.

Projects Available
Community Outreach (Apply to Jessica at
Help increase the number of Oaklanders who are part of the GO network by strategically reaching out and inviting Oaklanders to get connected to Great Oakland Public Schools.

Teaching Policy (Apply to Marc at
Provide in-depth policy research and analysis on OUSD policies that impact teachers.

3rd Annual Garden Party (Apply to Casey at
Help lead our strategy to run our third annual Garden Party fundraiser in August - help drive details including volunteer, childcare, décor, printed materials, signage, marketing, and other logistical details.

Elections (Apply to Jessica at
Supporting our work to hear from Oaklanders in neighborhoods across the city about what they are thinking and feeling about public education in our city, and compiling that information in a report that we can share with our community. This will help guide our work to help great school board candidates get elected this November.


  • Opportunity to impact public education policy in Oakland
  • Be part of a dynamic team of educators and education advocates
  • Gain practical research, writing, and advocacy skills
  • Opportunity to meet measurable goals and build marketable skills

Qualifications Required

  • Self-starter with strong project management and communication skills.
  • Understanding of and/or willingness to learn about Oakland and Oakland Unified School District stakeholders
  • Strong and strategic written and verbal communication skills, with a willingness to engage in public speaking

How to Apply
All applicants should submit a cover letter and resume the GO staff member listed with the specific fellowship. Please limit your cover letter to 300 words and be sure to include the following: why you are interested in and qualified for this particular fellowship, your background in urban education, your connection to Oakland, and the skills you will offer the GO Public Schools team.  Please include the reference "Summer Fellowship" in the subject line.

Deadline :  Friday, April 13th

Interview with our 1,000th Facebook Fan, Jose Gonzalez

We recently reached a bit of a mini-milestone by reaching 1,000 fans on Facebook. What better way to celebrate than with an interview with Jose Gonzalez who became our 1,000th fan after seeing a Twitter post about being one fan away from this milestone.

Jamboree 034.jpgTell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Jose Gonzalez. I've lived in Oakland for 22 years. I attended Hawthorne Elementary, Oakland Charter Academy, Skyline High School, and then San Jose State. I now work with Think College Now as an After School Program instructor and also a technology specialist.

What is your hope for our public schools in Oakland?
My hope for public schools in Oakland is that we should continue to push students to want to go to college. Every student should want to go to college and believe they can. My hope for public schools in Oakland is that we should be sending more students to college. Kids should be thinking college at every level - elementary school, middle school and high school.

Thanks Jose and the 999 other folks who liked our Facebook Page. We love interacting with you everyday!


The story of the fundraiser for GO Public Schools with Ted Mitchell

See below for the videos, pictures, and tweets from our fundraiser with Ted Mitchell on March 6th, 2012. We gathered at the Kaiser Center to raise money to support GO's work in 2012 and hear Ted's perspective from his work in the education field.

We're Honored.

We are so honored to be the Nonprofit of the Month at Farley's East at 33 Grand Avenue.

Stop by to enjoy a place where the goal is to "create a focal point for the community where everyone is comfortable and welcome" and see our window display anytime during the month of March.

Also, please join us on March 22nd from 5 PM - 9 PM for Happy Hour. During those hours, 20% of proceeds benefit Great Oakland Public Schools. Invite your friends to our Facebook event!

Listening Campaign Results

Over the last several months, Great Oakland Public Schools has hosted many party gatherings across the city to hear from Oaklanders what they are thinking about education in our city. The results of this listening campaign (from almost 2,000 pieces of data collected) are now available. Click here for the results.


  • 80% of participants stated that Oakland schools do not have enough money to do a good job of educating students
  • 75% of participants said that it was time for new school board leadership in Oakland. When asked to give one word to describe a great school board member, participants frequented words like "engaged," "knowledgeable," and "problem solver."
  • Participants noted 1) teachers, 2) parents, and 3) community support as the three most important factors to a child's success in school

Below is a visual representation of responses to the question, "What is the most important issue in Oakland education?" To see a word cloud of all responses received from the entire set of responses, click here. To see word clouds from other questions, click here.

Follow Me on Pinterest

Biggest Issue.png

Fundraiser with Ted Mitchell

Join us on Tuesday, March 6th to support Great Oakland Public Schools and hear from Ted Mitchell, former president of the California State Board of Education and president of Occidental College.

Currently, Ted is president and CEO of the NewSchools Venture Fund, an Oakland-based venture philanthropy organization committed to improving public education, especially for the under-served.


Mike Johnston Speech Video

Below is a video from our fundraiser with Colorado Senator Mike Johnston in January 2012:

To view a recap of the event as written by C.J. Hirschfield, Executive Director of Children's Fairyland, click here.

Another blogger shared about the event here.

To see Mike's responses to audience questions, click here.

"Drive", she said.

Below is the text from an article by C.J. Hirschfield, Executive Director of Children's Fairyland, originally printed in the Piedmont Post. PDF version here.
Once_Upon_a_Time.pngOn Thursday night January 5, more than 250 people sat shoulder to shoulder in a room in East Oakland's Lighthouse Community Charter School and listened to a story about car keys. By the end of the story, most of us were ready to embark on a quest to do whatever we can to make Oakland's public schools great.

The storyteller was Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston, a former teacher who co-founded New  Leaders  for  New  Schools, a national non-profit that recruits and trains urban principals. Johnston, who looks younger than his 37 years, is a national leader in the field of student-centered education reform, an issue many of us consider the next big civil rights issue.

Which is how Johnston came to be the keynote speaker at a sold-out fundraiser for Great Oakland Public Schools, an organization committed to ensuring that all Oakland students have the opportunity to attend quality public schools.

Johnston's story was about a woman whose role in the original civil rights movement was not familiar to any of us in the room that night. He set it up for us: The year was 1955 and Montgomery, Alabama, had started a bus boycott sparked by Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat for a white per- son. Organizers realized that the boycott needed to last for longer than a single day to be successful. Montgomery residents needed to refuse to ride the buses completely. But how could people get to work and home without the public transit they depended on?

After the first day, a large group gathered to figure out how to solve the problem.

"I have a car," said a black woman named Mary Jo Smiley. She offered to lend her  support to  the  movement  by  transporting boycotters to and from work and other places they needed to go. She said she figured she could help 20 people each day, and she was proud to do it.

And that's what she did.

The authorities noticed. Smiley was arrested after driving her friends and jailed for conspiracy. Boycott organizers gave her the option to stop her work for the cause. Her response?

"I need my car keys." She knew there were 20 people who wouldn't be able to make it to work, to the bank, to shop without her help.

Smiley continued driving boycotters immediately after her release from jail - day after day, for  381  days.  Years  later,  Mary Jo Smiley - now the Rev. Mary Jo  Smiley  -  told  the  Montgomery Advertiser: "The people of Montgomery made that boycott successful. The leaders had the strategy, but the people had the strength."

Why did Mike Johnston tell us that story in Oakland, in 2012? Because he knows that school re- form won't be easy, but he's in it for the long haul. He knows that if we focus on students, effective teachers, strong leadership, individualized education, empowered school communities, choice about schools and one vision for Oakland, success will follow.
He was urging us to grab our metaphorical car keys and start driving.

For more information about Great Oakland Public Schools, visit

C.J. Hirschfield is Executive Director of Children's Fairyland, which is located next to Lake Merritt at 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland. For more information call 452-2259 or e-mail

GO Fundraiser with Senator Mike Johnston - Live Twitter Feed

During our event the evening of Thursday, January 5th, watch this page for live Tweets from those attending the event. Join the conversation using hashtag #go2012.

We're 23 days away.

 By: Jessica Stewart

I was at the GO Holiday Party a few weeks ago when someone shared with me that Senator Mike Johnston is the subject of one of the chapter's of Tom Friedman's new book (That Used to Be Us).

It made me even more proud that Senator Johnston will be joining us in just a few weeks to help raise money for GO's work in 2012.

So far, 141 people have purchased their ticket to support GO and be sure they have a spot at a fantastic Oakland education event. If you haven't reserved yours yet, be sure to do that soon. The early bird tickets are only available for two more days (until Friday).

I got my hands on a copy of Friedman's book so that I could see the section about Senator Johnston. Here is one of my favorite excerpts from that chapter that has a good analogy about where education stands today:

"Johnston said that when he thinks about the change that he and others are trying to effect in education, he thinks back to attending President Obama's inauguration in Washington. What impressed him most was seeing a platoon of wheelchairs parting the crowd on the Mall after the president took the oath. Sitting in them were the surviving Tuskegee Airman, the first African American aviators in te United States armed forces, who flew many successful missions in World War II.

"What I realized was that they lived in a moment when people didn't believe it was possible - they didn't believe that a black man had the courage or intelligence or stamina to fly one of America's most expensive warplanes," Johnson recalled. "So they said, 'Put me up in the air and let me show you,' and they became one of the only air squadrons in WWII who never lost a bomber." And of course they could and did become successful pilots. "And when they did, the world changed- because the argument about whether or not we were all created equal was once and for all over, and nothing else could have happened but that Truman would eventually integrate the air force, or that Johnson would sign the Civil Rights Act, or that sixty years later we would inaugurate the first black president.

"Education needs its own Tuskegee moment. One reason we have not been able ot galvanize the whole community for educational reform, "Johnston concluded, "is that some people still don't believe that every one of our kids can compete with the smartest kids from Singapore and China. It's our responsibility to get up in the air and prove them wrong. Then the whole world changes."

Senator Johnston led historic legislation in Colorado that brought together Republicans, Democrats, union leaders, district leaders, and others to support effective educators in Colorado classrooms. He also co-founded New Leaders for New Schools and was one of President Obama's top three education advisors. He is also the author of In the Deep Heart's Core, a book he wrote after being a teacher in the Mississippi Delta. He was also recently named to Time Magazine's 40 Under 40 List.

Needless to say, the conversation we're going to have on January 5th with Mike is going to be inspiring and interesting, and I hope you're a part of it. Get your ticket here.

2011 Listening Campaign Results

Over the last few months, our network has hosted many house party gatherings across the city with their neighbors to hear from Oaklanders what they are thinking about education in our city. We took the several hundred responses and created this word cloud to visually represent what is on the mind of our city. Click here to view a larger version.

Listening Campaign 2011 Word Cloud Website Slide.png

Top Five Reasons

By: Jessica Stewart

"He is the best speaker I've ever heard."

That's Meg Stewart, Oakland teacher at Bret Harte Middle School. She got the chance to hear Colorado Senator Mike Johnston, a clear leader in the education community, speak earlier this year. We agree with Meg, so we asked Mike to join us in January for a GO Public Schools fundraiser.

Here are my Top Five Reasons to join us for this event on January 5th:

5. It's a great chance to see your fellow education advocates and meet some great new friends and make connections.

4. The event benefits Great Oakland Public School's work in 2012, which will be a truly crucial year Oakland education.

3. Mike Johnston is an impressive leader in the education movement. Check out one of his past speeches here on YouTube.

2. For the next few weeks, the early-bird tickets to the fundraiser are cheaper than they will be once we all go on winter vacation.

1. It's sure to be a thought-provoking discussion and a fun, interesting crowd.

Get your ticket today for the event on January 5th.

You may be familiar with Mike's work in Colorado and his leadership nationally as one of President Obama's top three education policy advisors to President Obama during the 2008 campaign and as a co-founder of New Leaders for New Schools. He also opened and led Mapleton Expeditionary School of Arts, a public district high school in Colorado. In May 2008, MESA became the first public high school in Colorado to get all 100 percent of its seniors admitted to four-year colleges.

We'll be kicking off at 6:30 PM on Thursday, January 5th at Lighthouse Community School at 444 Hegenberger and we hope you'll be there with us. Buy your ticket here and then join the Facebook event to get the conversation started.

I'll see you in January!

P.S. That night (January 5th) is my birthday, and I can't think of any better way to spend it than with others who care just as deeply about having a great school for every kid in Oakland! I hope you'll join us.

Announcing Our 2011 Summer Fellows

This year, we had more than five times as many applicants for our summer fellowship as last year.  The group we have selected for this summer is a diverse group that brings in an exciting set of skills and knowledge to contribute.  Fellows will be working on projects involving teacher effectiveness, outreach to our community, fundraising, and much more.

John.Baldo.pngJohn Baldo
John recently taught Pre-Algebra and Geometry in Oakland as a Teach for America corps member.  He graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in computer science and a minor in political science with an emphasis in law and public policy.  He has a keen interest in the intersection of technology and education, especially longitudinal data systems.  During his time at USC, he advocated for improved student services as a director in the undergraduate student government.  He also served as a leader in a grassroots campaign to make USC a more sustainable community.

Sandrena.Frischer.jpgSandrena Frischer
Sandrena is an undergrad at UC Berkeley, studying Education and International Area Studies, with a focus on human security and conflict resolution. As a volunteer at Manzanita Community School in Oakland, she gained experience working in an urban education environment. As a volunteer for Amigos de las Americas in Panama and the Dominican Republic, she taught classes about health, the environment, and youth leadership to elementary school students in rural communities. She is a Bay Area Native, and is interested in education policy and education as a means for social change.

Jordan.Haedtler.jpgJordan Haedtler
A graduate of the George Washington University, Jordan is a passionate political organizer, writer, and education reform advocate. Jordan has years of experience on grassroots campaigns and with non-profits, working on a wide array of issues. Whether working to pass a renewable electricity standard through Congress, persuading California voters to approve high speed rail, or fighting unjust prison sentence disparities, Jordan has brought dedication to his advocacy. Most recently, Jordan managed a state legislative race in Southeastern Pennsylvania, selected by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee as one of "40 Essential Races" nationwide. In his spare time, he sings barbershop harmony with competitive quartets and choruses.

Jack.Holzman.jpgJack Holzman
Jack Holzman just completed his first year as a seventh grade math teacher at Elmhurst Community Prep in East Oakland and a 2010 Teach For America Corps Member. While obtaining his bachelor's degree in Computer Science at the University of Illinois, Jack served as an engagement partner for OTCR Consulting, a student-run business and technical consulting firm. This position was heavily focused on project management, staff development, and data analysis. Jack currently resides in Oakland.

Reed.Matheny.jpgReed Matheny
Reed has been teaching in various capacities for over nine years, tutoring in private and public schools and volunteering as an English teacher through Learning Enterprises in Panama. He has just completed a Master's degree in English Literature at Stanford University, where he also co-founded Ithaka, a thriving 20-person co-op. He is excited to shift his focus from teaching to education advocacy this summer with GO Public Schools. If he's not working for social justice in education, you might find him cooking, reading Joyce or climbing trees in the East Bay hills.

Chinere.McDaniels.jpgChinere McDaniels
Chinere McDaniels has been teaching in Oakland Unified for the last 3 years. She is currently a Kindergarten teacher at Hoover elementary. Chinere is passionate about our youth and has strong interest in creating educational opportunities for Oakland youth where there were none. She is an advocate for youth, a mentor and counselor. She has participated in summer camps, tutoring and extracurricular activities with her students. Her favorite quotes are "it takes a village to raise a child" and "the journey of a million steps starts with the first step". She believes that as a community we have the ability to change Oakland's future for the better -- one small step at a time.

Tara.Ramanathan.jpgTara Ramanathan
Tara's work focuses on the intersection where education, poverty, and policy meet. In 2006 she authored a chapter in the book Poverty in India, in which she analyzed major lessons learned on poverty alleviation strategies in developing and developed countries.  Her Honors thesis in Economics investigated successful microfinance programs in developing countries, and their application as alternative forms of education in the United States. After graduating, Tara taught in a low-performing school in Richmond with Teach for America; and then joined a research team at UC Berkeley to evaluate the efficacy of Teach for America corps members in boosting achievement among low-performing students.  Tara has played a key leadership role in a number of successful campaigns, including the University of California campaign that led to the UC Regents divestment from Darfur; for which she was recognized with the Brutten Philanthropic Organization of the Year Award.  

Sara.Salas.jpgSara Salas
As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, Sara worked with various academic outreach programs serving youth throughout the East Bay. For two years, she served as Team Leader and Volunteer Coordinator for a non-profit organization promoting early childhood education. She also worked as a College Advocate at a local high school where she facilitated CAHSEE and SAT preparation seminars, as well as coordinated the annual College Fair. As a Staff Tutor for Berkeley Unified School District, she provided one-on-one academic support and college application advising. During her last semester, Sara participated in a language and culture program in Brazil where she conducted research on that country's affirmative action initiative in public university admissions. Through this fellowship, she hopes to gain valuable exposure in grassroots organizing and collaborate on progressive reforms for public education in Oakland.

Stephanie.Wong.jpgStephanie Wong
Stephanie is a rising senior at UC Berkeley, studying Media Studies, with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice. Her ties to Oakland public schools began three years ago, when she first became a tutor and mentor for Oakland Asian Students Educational Services (OASES). Since then, she has continued to volunteer with OASES and interned at the U.S. Department of Education. Most recently, she helped instruct a Berkeley undergraduate course on "Current Issues in Education," deconstructing and analyzing the social, political, and economic issues that affect education. She is passionate about social justice, human rights, education, and journalism, all of which help drive her educational interests and experiences.

If you are interested in hearing about future fellowship opportunities this fall and in the future, please join our email list at

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OUSD's 2011-2012 Budget

Have questions about Oakland Unifiedʼs (OUSD) 2011-12 budget? Below is an overview of both the OUSD and State budget contexts, as well as some questions posed by GO Public Schools.

Key OUSD Background

1. OUSD still does not know how much money it will get from the State of California.
2. Cuts are estimated to be between $349-844 per pupil (between $12.5 and $30.5 M for OUSD).
3. OUSD needs to be prepared to cut up to $844 in per pupil funding ($30.5 M total) from its budget.
4. On April 6th, OUSD staff gave the School Board a list of 11 possible cuts totaling about $60M.

The BIG Budget Picture
1. The State decides how much money OUSD gets.
2. The OUSD Board of Education decides how to spend the money it gets from the state.
3. OUSD staff gives the Board of Education options to create a district budget.
4. The OUSD Board of Education either (a) accepts the staff's options, or (b) asks the staff for more options.

GO Public Schools proposes the following questions:

1. Central Office Cuts: Why werenʼt more Central Office budget cuts proposed?
The Central Office is budgeted $33.7M of "unrestricted" funds. This year, every OUSD School Site had to look closely are each program and staff member and make painful cuts. The Districtʼs Central Office should do the same. As a start, OUSD should publicly, and in an accessible format, examine the budgets of (1) Professional Development; and (2) Full Service Community Schools. Both of these budgets are large, and it is unclear if they are providing core services (e.g., direct student services, mandatory staff support). GO understands that the Central Office needs funding so that the district can function.

2. School Site Cuts: Why do schools sites have to cut so much?
Why isn't reducing the current level of school site cuts--$349 per pupil--among the options presented? We do not have to cut school site budgets by $349 per pupil in order to balance the budget. For example, School Sites could reduce their budgets by $150 and OUSD could make other cuts to balance the budget. When the School Sites cut $349 per pupil out of their budgets it meant losing 137 teacher positions, and many classified staff positions.

3. Restricted Funds:
Will OUSD give more "restricted funds" to school sites?
For example, "Title I" money is given to OUSD to help children in poverty. OUSD currently uses $2.9M of its Title I funds for "oversight" and "indirect costs." This is the legal maximum that OUSD is allowed to use for that purpose. If OUSD reduced the cost of its oversight, these funds could be given to the school sites to directly benefit students.

4. Structural Deficit: What will OUSD do to address the structural deficit before next yearʼs budget? A "Structural Deficit" means that the district spends more than it brings in. Right now, in order to meet community concerns, the district is suggesting that we use a lot of "one time" money - that is, money that we only have this year to solve our budget problems. As a community we have to think about what happens next year.

5. Temporary Teachers: What is the plan to help the ʻtemporaryʼ teachers who taught for most of the year return to their classrooms? Last year, OUSD hired both ʻpermanentʼ and ʻtemporaryʼ teachers. Some ʻtemporaryʼ teachers were in the classroom all year, but because they were temporary they are being removed from the classroom.

Click here to view this as a PDF in English and Spanish.

Budget Crisis Update

On April 6th, OUSD's Board of Education met for a study session on the budget crisis, hearing a Special Presentation to the Board  from District leadership. Below, we have summarized (1) the current situation, (2) the possible cuts proposed by the District, (3) the District's recommended cuts, (4) an update on teacher layoffs, and (5) the questions that GO was left with after the presentation. Click here to download a user-friendly PDF with this information.

The special budget study session began with some reminders regarding the severity of the crisis facing OUSD today, with District staff sharing additional budget documents: 2011-12 Budget Development: Unrestricted General Fund Assumptions, and Summary of Consultants. Click here to watch a video of the meeting.

A Snapshot

Last year, OUSD received $5,239 per pupil. Vernon Hal, the District's Chief Financial Officer, shared that OUSD had been preparing for a $349 per pupil funding cut ($12.5 M reduction overall). With the breakdown of budget talks in Sacramento, it is now preparing for $844 per pupil cuts ($30.5 M reduction overall).  

It Could Get Worse

The $844 cut in per pupil funding is based on two assumptions: (1) the taxes proposed for the November ballot do not pass; and (2) the state education budget does not receive additional cuts during the state budget process. If the tax extensions pass, Oakland will get more money. If the state education budget gets cut, Oakland will receive less money.

The Board's Priorities

For the purposes of Wednesday's study session, the question of how to cut the budget focused around the Board's three priorities: (1) Increase Teacher Retention; (2) Eliminate the Structural Deficit; and (3) Increase Employee Compensation.


According to Hal, OUSD needs to prepare for a $30.5M budget cut. He said there are four strategies to manage the budget, and proposed $58.5M in possibilities:

  1. Increase the General Fund ("Revenue Enhancement")
  2. Spend Less ("Expense Decreases")
  3. Transfer part of the OUSD Fund Balance (Money the district has for unanticipated expenses, etc.)
  4. Decrease "Proposed Expense Increases"

1. Increase the General Fund. (The General Fund is the budget category that is used to fund school sites and the Central Office.)

  • Flex Adult Education ($6.2M): This option cuts $6.2M of Adult Education funding and adds it to the General Fund so it can be used by K-12 school sites. $1M would remain in Adult Education.
  • Flex Adult Education's Unallocated Budget ($2.5M): This option cuts Adult Education's $2.5M Unallocated Fund Balance and adds it to the General Fund so it can be used by K-12 students.
  • Use the State Loan ($2.1M): This option would use $2.1M that OUSD has remaining from its $100M loan from the state, and puts it into the General Fund so it can be used by K-12 students.

2. Spend less.

  • Cut to School Sites ($14.6M): This option would reduce OUSD's expenses by keeping the $14.6M cut to school site budgets made under Results Based Budgeting. This is the cut that was made when the district asked schools to prepare a site budget based on a $349 per pupil funding cut.
  • Cut Early Retirement Fund ($2M): This option would reduce OUSD's expenses by not spending $2M of the $6.4M Early Retirement Fund this year.
  • Cut Some Music Teachers ($320,000): This option reduces expenses by cutting 4 of the 20 centrally funded music teachers. 'Centrally funded' means that these teachers are paid by the central office rather than school sites.
  • Maximize Elementary Class Sizes ($6.6M): This option would reduce OUSD's expenses by maximizing elementary school class-sizes to contract maximums. This means approximately 90 fewer full time teachers at school sites.

3. Transfer Part of the Fund Balance to the General Fund. 

  • Fund Balance (Up to $19M): In this option, OUSD adds part of its $19M "Fund Balance" to the General Fund. The "Fund Balance" is money OUSD has not spent (for a variety of reasons, such as to pay audit fines, in case of economic uncertainty, etc.).

4. Decrease Proposed "Expense Increases." (These are expenses that OUSD planned to increase, but Hal is suggesting the District could choose not to go forward with the increase.)

  • Salary Increase ($2M): OUSD had proposed to give its staff a 2% salary increase. Choosing not to give this raise would save OUSD $2M.
  • Flex Adult Ed. Funds ($3M): OUSD had planned to use $3M in Adult Education Funds to pay for high school counseling, literacy, and A-G (college prep) offerings. Not offering these services would save OUSD $3M.
  • Summer School Funding ($543,000): OUSD had budgeted $543,000 for non-salary expenses related to summer school. Cutting these expenses would save $543,000.

District staff recommends that OUSD does the following:

1. Increase the General Fund

  • Flex all Adult Education Funds except for $1M
  • Flex Adult Education's Unallocated $2.5M
  • Use $2.1M of the State Loan

2. Spend Less

  • Reduce school site budgets by $349 per pupil
  • Keep the Early Retirement Fund fully funded
  • Do not eliminate the 4 centrally funded music teachers
  • Do not maximize elementary schools to class-size maximums

3. Fund Balance

  • Use $8.5M of OUSD's Fund Balance. This leaves $10.5M in the fund.

4. Reduce Proposed increases

  • Do not give employees a 2% raise
  • Do not cut the funding increase for high school counseling, A-G, etc.
  • Do not cut the budget for Summer School

Regarding Teachers
Barbara Gee, Director of Human Resources, acknowledged the great concern and anxiety in the district over the number of teacher layoff notices issued. She presented information about a group of schools with over 25% turnover rate. Regarding the teacher layoffs, Gee shared that while there is still uncertainty, if the district uses its one-time monies (flexing adult education, for example), it should be able to hold steady and reduce the number of layoffs significantly. That said, there would still be layoffs.

According to Gee, when school sites designed their budgets earlier this year, it resulted in approximately 137 consolidated positions. Note: a consolidated position occurs when a teacher's position is cut due to budget or program cuts. Over the past few weeks, the HR Department has collected information about the number of teachers who are: (1) retiring, (2) not being asked to return, and (3) temporary teachers. They discovered that there are at total of 233 teachers who are not, at present, returning to the district.

Jody London asked about the timeline for rescinding layoff notices. Jacqueline Minor, OUSD's attorney, said they were waiting for a hearing to happen on April 15, and Superintendent Smith indicated that they would move as quickly as possible.

Our Questions

1. Additional Options: Why weren't more possible cuts proposed through Central Office budget cuts?

There are currently $33.7M of unrestricted funds budgeted for Central Office expenses. However, cutting centrally funded teachers was the only central cut presented to the Board on April 6th. Every OUSD school site has closely evaluated each program to ensure that it is core and adding value to students. We ask that the District publicly, and in an accessible format, examine the budgets of (1) Professional Development; and (2) Full Service Community Schools Departments. Both of these budgets are large, and it is unclear if they are providing core services.

GO respects and recognizes the importance of the Central Office, and understands that it needs to be resourced to enable the district to function and advance the strategic plan. However, each department's budget needs to be closely examined to ensure that it is providing an indispensable service.

2. School Site Cuts: Given the range of options, it is clear that we could balance the budget even if we reduced the school site cuts. For example, the sites could reduce their budgets by $150 per pupil instead of $349 per pupil. Why isn't reducing the current level of cuts ($349 per pupil at school sites) among the options presented? 

For example, if OUSD cut central office operations costs by 3%, it would mean a $1M savings. School site cuts could be reduced from approximately $14M to $13M, thus sparing teacher positions and support staff.
3. Restricted Funds: Will the District present options for passing more "restricted funds" to school sites?

For example, the District currently uses $2.9M of Title I funds for District oversight and "indirect costs." This is 15% of all District Title I money; funds which are intended to help children in poverty. If the District reduced the cost of its oversight, these funds could be passed to the school sites to benefit students.

4. Structural Deficit: How will OUSD work to address the long-term structural deficit prior to another year of budget cuts?

Note: Structural deficit refers to when, over time, the district spends more than it brings in. We can eliminate pain this year, but what happens next year?

5. Temporary Teachers: Last year, OUSD hired both permanent and temporary teachers with similar credentials. What is the plan to help temporary teachers return to their school sites?

6. Teacher layoffs and communication: How is information about the budget and staff layoffs being communicated district-wide? What steps are being taken to ensure that those who received layoff notices know that they are valued and that the district is doing everything it can to retain them?

After the presentation, the Board engaged with Hal on several points.

  • The current $349 cuts to school sites: Hal said that the district would not re-open the RBB process to reduce the cuts to school sites.
  • Furlough Days: Staff presented information that district-wide furlough days would result in savings of $1.3M per day, but noted that this would have to be negotiated with unions. Instructional days would be preserved as much as possible, with furloughs proposed for non-instructional days. Director Dobbins asked what other districts are doing regarding furlough days. Hal replied that some were using up to 10 days.
  • Classified Staff (non-teachers): Alice Spearman asked about classified staff, expressing concern that adequate levels of service would not be provided to students at school sites if schools cut classified staff to save teacher jobs. Hal replied that some classified services, such as custodians, were centrally funded, and that the district worked with school sites to make sure minimum standards were followed. School sites do, however, have flexibility around how they spend their money on classified staff.
  • Adult Education: Jody London asked what would be left of Adult Education if we flexed all but $1M of the funding, and wondered what other districts are doing regarding Adult Ed. funding. Maria Santos replied that most services would be gone, except for a few such as basic GED, and that many districts have cut it entirely.
  • A-G Requirements: Spearman asked whether it is possible that OUSD would relax or suspend the A-G graduation requirement. Hal said 'no.'    
  • Strategic Plan: Gary Yee asked how the budget impacted the district's strategic plan. Maria Santos replied that the resources necessary to implement the strategic plan had been protected.
  • Facilities: Jumoke Hinton-Hodge asked if the district was going to "flex" any of the money used for facilities upkeep. Hal said 'no' because the district needs to take care of its buildings.


Please note: The above information reflects our best understanding of what was presented on April 6th. We have tried to characterize the main points from the conversation, and provide links to relevant resources. If you have comments, questions, or further ideas, please share them here. 

Key Questions for the Oakland Teacher Convention

Key questions, research, and data that can help inform the critical conversations being held at the 2011 Oakland Teacher Convention

On Thursday evening, over 200 of Oakland's best teachers will be attending Oakland's first Teacher Convention. OUSD's Effective Teaching Task Force organized this two-and-a-half day convention, where teacher leaders will collaborate to define the priorities for a five-year strategic plan that will address teacher evaluation, compensation, site-based conditions, recruitment, retention, and professional development.

To help inform the critical conversations that will be taking place at the convention, GO Public Schools Information Center staff, board members, and policy fellows, in collaboration with members of the GO community, compiled the guide below with key questions, research, and data.

We acknowledge that:
  • Funding stability and adequacy are arguably the most important conditions to support our teachers.
  • Many conditions necessary to support teachers are not discussed in this guide.
  • OUSD has many good policies and practices that support effective teaching that should be continued.
  • The teachers who participate in the convention this week will bring a wealth of perspectives, knowledge, and understanding far beyond what our small group of educators and community have compiled.

Click here to download the full PDF, or click the headings below to access content related to that section.

Teachers are Leaders and Share Decision-Making

  • In which school-site decisions should teachers be involved?
  • What teacher leadership roles should exist at each school site?
  • What is the role of a teacher in determining professional development at school sites?

Teacher Evaluation and PD are Supportive and Data-Driven

  • What is the purpose of teacher evaluation?
  • How should teacher evaluation support teacher professional development?
  • How should teacher evaluation inform professional development decisions at the site and district levels?
  • How should data and evidence about student learning inform evaluations and professional development?

Schools and Teachers Choose Each Other ("Mutual Consent")

  • What are the roles of parents, teachers, and principals in selecting a teaching team?
  • When should candidates outside of the district be considered to fill vacancies at schools?
  • How can schools with high teacher turnover attract and retain quality teachers?
  • What should be the role of seniority in teacher placement?
  • What are the consequences of resignations, vacancies, or new openings at different points in OUSD/OEA hiring timeline?

Every School Has a Great Leader

  • What is a school leader's role in creating conditions to support teachers?
  • What qualities and skills must school leaders possess to support great teaching?
  • How much autonomy must school leaders have to lead great schools?
  • How important are a school leader's expectations of teachers? Students?

A System that Works for Teachers

  • How can OUSD's central office services support effective teaching?
  • How can OUSD's salary schedule be modified to help retain teachers?
  • What conditions, inside and outside of school, support effective teaching?

The teachers who participate in the convention this week will bring a wealth of perspectives, knowledge, and understanding far beyond what our small group of educators and community has compiled. We look forward to hearing about the conversations that emerge from a successful convention, and to partnering with teachers and the district to turn the ideas from the convention into actions to support teachers and students. Congratulations to the Oakland Unified School District and the Oakland Education Association for creating this opportunity for Oakland teachers.

Click here to download the full PDF. If you would like a print copy of this guide, please let us know!

Special Board Meeting TONIGHT

The coming six weeks are critical for OUSD students. The Board of Education is grappling with the state-wide budget crisis and will soon decide whether to lay off over 500 teachers and how to cut at least $30.5 million from the OUSD budget. To date, school sites have been asked to shoulder the majority of budget cuts.  

Your voice needs to be a part of this conversation. Attend the Board of Education's Special Budget Meeting TONIGHT, April 6, at 5pm at the Board Room, 1025 Second Avenue. (Public comment follows staff presentations)

Here are the agenda, Special Presentation to the Board, and corresponding documents (11-12 Budget Development: Unrestricted General Fund Assumptions, and Summary of Consultants) to be presented tonight.

GO commends the efforts of principals from elementary, middle, and high schools across Oakland who have been working hard to make sure that students stay at the center of the discussion. For the past several weeks, a group of principals has been meeting (with support from GO Public Schools and OCO) to review the 2011-2012 budget, sharing information, polling colleagues, and collecting data about the potential impact of the budget cuts on students and school communities across the city.

The principals' presentation, available here, includes both facts and the recommendations that they will be sharing tonight.


  • Schools cut $350 per pupil in Results Based Budgeting (RBB) for the 2011-2012 school year.
  • The State says we need to cut at least $825 per pupil next year. 
  • OUSD leadership recently reversed its position of no central cuts, and has indicated that they can cut $350 per pupil.
  • At high poverty schools, cuts may eliminate the supports students need to access core programs.

Why Sacramento City Matters for Oakland

Click here to download a PDF of Why Sacramento City Matters for Oakland

As a result of the state budget crisis, more than 18,500  pink-slips were sent to California teachers on March 15. Here in Oakland, the district issued 538 layoff notices to certificated district employees.

A state policy known as "last-in, first-out" (LIFO) determines which teachers receive pink slips. Teachers, students, and families city-wide have been stunned by both the sheer number of layoffs and the recognition that LIFO policies hit some schools harder than others. Those schools hit hardest tend to be in the city's poorest neighborhoods, often with the highest levels of crime, lowest levels of student achievement, and highest levels of teacher turnover.

Sacramento City protects students' constitutional rights.

In Sacramento City, Superintendent Jonathan Raymond and the Board of Education sought to protect students in the six "Superintendent's Priority Schools" from the effects of teacher layoffs. These academically troubled schools, where the district had difficulty recruiting staff, were identified in March 2010 as part of an effort to improve under-performing schools that had failed to adequately serve students. Students at these six schools will not experience the devastating effects of teacher layoffs because none of their teachers will be laid off for the 2011-2012 school year.

Using the Law to Protect: Sacramento City's action to protect students is based on a state law that calls for two important exceptions to seniority-based lay-offs ("Skipping"). Under the Education Code, Districts are allowed to deviate from seniority-based layoffs:

1. for hard-to-staff fields (such as special education, math, or science), Cal. Educ. Code §44955(d)(1); and
2. "for purposes of maintaining or achieving compliance with constitutional requirements related to equal protection of the laws." Cal. Educ. Code § 4955(d)(2).

(Click here to read about the settlement in LAUSD that complies with this provision).

The Board Leads: On March 3, 2011, the Sacramento City Unified Board of Education approved a Resolution to Determine Criteria for Deviation from Terminating a Certificated Employee in Order of Seniority also known as "Skipping Criteria." In addition to skipping teachers in "hard-to staff" fields, the district also chose to "skip" the teachers working at the Superintendent's Priority Schools.

From the Resolution, Sacramento City's "Skipping Criteria" include the following:
1. individuals with the following certifications:
  • BCLAD (bilingual)
  • Special Education
  • High school math

2. individuals teaching in Priority Schools (the 6 schools designated by the Superintendent) [emphasis added]

3. individuals with the following experiences:
  • one or more years teaching in the Dual-Language Immersion Program
  • two or more years teaching and/or specialized training in a home or hospital setting
  • formal Waldorf method training
  • experience in the Accelerated Academy Program

What can Oakland Unified do now?
OUSD must use the power it already possesses under the Education Code to uphold students' constitutional, fundamental right to basic equality of educational opportunity.  Current law (Education Code) requires a district to deviate from seniority-based layoffs "for purposes of maintaining or achieving compliance with constitutional requirements related to equal protection of the laws." Cal. Educ. Code § 44955(d)(2).

Rescinding Layoff Notices: The first step is to figure out how to rescind the layoff notices that have already been issued. Recognizing the no teacher layoff is good, OUSD should begin by working with the Oakland Education Association (OEA) and community groups to develop criteria for how to rescind the layoff notices issued on March 15. OEA President Betty Olson-Jones, in a March 22 open letter to the community, states that the OEA is "open to creative suggestions that will help minimize the instability caused by massive layoffs[.]"[1]

The criteria should be developed by OUSD, OEA, and community groups in such a way that will:

1. protect the most vulnerable schools that would otherwise suffer dramatic percentages of teacher layoffs;

2. distribute the remaining teacher layoffs more fairly across our public schools; and

3. be respectful of teachers and their collective bargaining rights.

This plan might include options such as entirely rescinding the layoff notices for the teachers at a select group of schools deemed most academically vulnerable, creating categories of schools based on academic performance and assigning each category a maximum percentage of the staff which can be laid off; or rescinding the notices such that no school has more than the district average of layoffs.

In the future, OUSD can also provide effective teacher attraction and retention supports at those schools that have suffered from high teacher turnover rates and have a disproportionately high number of newer teachers, with the goal of reducing teacher turnover at those schools.

For more information:

OEA Executive Board Elections - coming soon!

Nominations are due April 4th. Who is representing you?

There are 3 officer seats up for election:
  • 2nd Vice President (incumbent: Rosenda Thomas)
  • Secretary (incumbent: Steve Neat)
  • Treasurer (incumbent: Mark Airgood)

There are 5 Executive Board seats up for election:
  • Board Seat #1 (incumbent:Tania Kappner)
  • Board Seat #2 (incumbent:Rodney Brown)
  • Board Seat #3 (incumbent: Bob Mandel)
  • Board Seat #4 (incumbent:Craig Gordon)
  • Board Seat #5 (incumbent:Aimee Green)

The term for the above seats is July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2013.

There are 3 CTA State Council Seats up for election:
  • Seat #1 (open)
  • Seat #3 (incumbent: Manny Lopez)
  • Seat #4 (incumbent: Steve Neat)
  • Alternate (open)

The term for the above seats is July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2014.


  • April 4: Nominations close, and all candidate statements are due at the end of the Rep Council meeting
  • April 4: Rep Council meeting at Oakland International High School (4521 Webster Street) - candidates will be given 2 minutes to speak
  • May 9-13: Election window

Click here to download a nomination form.
For more information, visit the OEA office at 272 East 12th Street, Suite C.

OCO to Host Community Meeting to Discuss Budget and Layoff Crisis - Monday at 5:45

Please join parents, teachers and principals for a strategy meeting to address the impact of budget cuts and layoffs at school sites across Oakland.

The purpose of this meeting is to develop action strategies to minimize budget cuts to school sites and prevent disproportionate impact of teacher layoffs on schools serving the most vulnerable communities.

The meeting will be held at the OCO Offices - #2 Eastmont Mall (upper level) - on Monday, March 14th at 5:45 PM.

Pizza will be provided.

A Youth's Perspective on the Budget Crisis

by Elaine Barfield, MetWest High School Sophomore and GO Public Schools Intern

"What makes you think I care about your education? Am I supposed to be worried about if you're learning and if you graduate or go to college? I know that you're the future, but do I really want to fund your school or is purchasing real estate a better investment?"

These are some of the things that I think of when I hear about budget cuts in schools. The famous cliché is, "you are the future of America", but when I hear and see what's going on, I wonder if adults are saying that, but don't really care. Their actions don't match their words.

In many schools right now, the most interesting and enjoyable programs are being removed, and being replaced with things that aren't as engaging or effective as before. When that happens, it's just showing us students what you adults think about us, like, "I want you to be intelligent, but I can't afford to pay for a quality education for you. You don't need any more art, dance, sports, or after school programs - the ones that are keeping you in school."

Many effective teachers are being removed from their jobs because of the "Last Hired, First Fired" policy. Some people may think that the last ones hired don't have much experience in teaching, and therefore are not effective. I know from experience that sometimes, they're the most effective teachers. Sometimes, it's the new teachers and not just the older ones who can connect with students and know some of what they like or they're interested in. I know exactly what it feels like to have a great teacher leave and be replaced with a poor one. It happened to me in middle school. After that experience, nothing was ever the same in school for me.

Currently I'm a sophomore student at MetWest High School in Oakland, where I can surely see the effects of budget cuts. At my school, the budget cuts have affected us in many ways. We don't have enough supplies, and if we have some, they're broken, messed up, worn out, or not up-to-date. We don't have a library, gym, cafeteria, lockers, fully functioning windows, or good food. And, to put the icing on the cake, we don't even have our own school; we share it with KDOL radio, Channel 27 TV, and a college preparedness group. As you're reading, you can see through my words some of the ways this budget crisis is affecting my education. And if nothing is done about it, it'll just get worse. 

My plan, after finishing high school, is to become a pediatrician or a lawyer. Without a quality education, none of that will happen. In today's society, we need more than just a high school diploma to help us get a job. We need AAs, BAs, Masters, and Doctorate Degrees. And the budget crisis is right in the front line, blocking our path to a high quality education. If we don't do something to improve our system now, it'll affect the education of generations of young people to come. I hope people stand up for me. I hope people stand up for all the students of Oakland.

Oakland's Hard Decisions

With over 85 Oakland education advocates in the room, a thought-provoking presentation from MK Think, and lots of maps and data for review, last Thursday was an opportunity for our community to come together to discuss the demographic, enrollment, and facilities data that OUSD will be using to make challenging strategic planning decisions.

As announced on Thursday, our Oakland community has two weeks to weigh in and offer feedback to the Board of Education on approaches to district asset allocation and right-sizing.

At tomorrow night's Board of Education meeting, board members and community will review data we discussed along with new scenarios from MK Think.

The presentation offers four scenarios for the board's consideration: 

  1. Efficiency - operate the fewest sites possible (larger sites offer best economies of scale)
  2. Remove portables - eliminate portables and concentrate resources on permanent buildings
  3. Neighborhood - align capacity with neighborhood population and minimize overlap of site coverage areas
  4. Choice - accommodate student preference patterns

Our understanding is that two weeks from tomorrow, on March 23, the Board will have another discussion and begin making recommendations to staff about the direction they want to go.

What You Can Do

  1. Attend and speak at the Board Meeting on Wednesdays March 9 and March 23 at 5pm at 1025 Second Avenue.
  2. Contribute to the conversation on our website - offer your feedback and recommendations in the comments section below.
  3. Send GO Public Schools your thoughts today! We'll compile them and share with the Board and the Regional Assets Task Force.


CALL TO ACTION: Become a Delegate to the OUSD Teacher Convention


On April 7, delegates from every Oakland Unified school site will come together at the Emeryville Hilton for Oakland's first Teacher Convention. This is a unique opportunity for teacher voices to develop policy to support effective practice in Oakland Unified.

Will you be there?

OUSD's Effective Teaching Task Force is organizing this two-and-a-half day convention, where teacher leaders will collaborate to define the priorities for a five-year strategic plan that will address teacher evaluation, compensation, site-based conditions, recruitment, retention, and professional development. The convention represents an unprecedented opportunity for teachers doing amazing work for Oakland students to set the direction for accelerating improvement in instructional practice across our city.


Nominate yourself to be your school's delegate at the April 7-9 Oakland Teacher Convention. Principals and OEA site reps should be bringing information about the convention to a staff meeting next week, and voting for delegates will occur a few days later. Nominate yourself. Represent your school.

Our students are counting on you to advocate for them.

Effective teaching will be assured when...

  • Teachers are: provided time and compensation for collaborating with each other and for participating in relevant professional development; recognized, accountable, and rewarded for their impact on student learning and achievement; and provided opportunities for professional growth.
  • Teachers use multiple data sources to assess and adjust instruction, student interventions, professional development, and curriculum decisions.
  • Teachers consistently review student work against student learning standards, and assess and adjust teaching practice to better serve student needs.
  • School sites are provided with budgets, resources, training and tools to build the capacity of their staffs, ensuring that all are focused on high performance student outcomes and standards of work.
  • We have a higher base salary for teachers, as well as incentives to retain and reward effective teachers and those who choose to teach in high-needs communities, that is, teachers are paid more!
  • Teacher salaries are competitive with those of surrounding districts and communities.

Add your ideas as a delegate on April 7!

Helpful Links

GO Public Schools believes that we must focus on recruiting and keeping an effective teacher in every Oakland classroom. Current studies confirm that among in-school factors, teacher effectiveness is the single most important factor in student learning. Further, effective teaching can close achievement gaps and overcome the impact of poverty on student learning and educational attainment.

Click here to learn more about GO's ideas about teacher effectiveness.

Oakland Education Leaders Endorse Let Us Vote Campaign

Great Oakland Public Schools community asks Sacramento to "Let Us Vote" to preserve K-12 public school funds

Oakland, CA - February 28, 2011: Great Oakland Public Schools and Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network are proudly supporting the statewide Let Us Vote! campaign. We represent parents, teachers, principals, students and community leaders locking arms to show support for Governor Brown's budget, including a proposed June ballot measure that will preserve basic funding for public schools.

Legislators and the Governor are already receiving pressure through a flood of letters, e-mails and calls leading up to the March 10 deadline to put the ballot measure in front of voters in June. In the first nine days, the Let Us Vote! campaign has garnered over 13,000 email letters to legislators, with letters from all 80 assembly districts and all 40 senate districts. Oaklanders have already sent over 700 email letters to legislators to support our schools, our children and our future. We expect to reach 1000 letters in the next few days.

"Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento are hearing a clear message that we need them to move forward a proposal to preserve funding for public schools," said Jonathan Klein, an Oakland parent with Great Oakland Public Schools.

California faces a $25 billion deficit and Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) faces a $30 million budget deficit for next school year, after already cutting $122 million over the past 18 months. For the first time in this recession, OUSD plans to lay off teachers, which will further destabilize our school communities. "Budget cuts, to me, are an excuse for people in power to use money for other things. When they talk about budget cuts at schools, it's like saying 'I don't care about our educational system, I don't care about youth learning'," stated a 10th grade student at Oakland's MetWest High School.

The Governor's plan is to cut spending by approximately $12.5 billion and generate another approximately $12 billion by renewing a tax extension that is set to expire on July 1, 2011. The ballot measure will allow Californians to vote on the tax extension. Currently, at least 4 additional legislators need to sign on in order for the tax extension to reach voters.

A recent poll completed by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) indicates that nearly 75% of Californians oppose cuts to K-12 education. Of those, 82% are willing to pay higher taxes to fund education. According to PPIC, between 2007-08 and 2010-11, the state's contribution to K-12 has decreased by 13 percent--and when one controls for inflation the decrease is greater. Yet, the legislature is still arguing about putting a revenue measure to protect school funding on the ballot.

Although this tax extension measure won't solve fundamental school funding issues, Oaklanders fundamentally believe that if the legislature doesn't allow this vote to reach Californians, the legislature will be robbing our children of the chance to have an adequate education. Without this revenue measure, parents are expecting devastating and debilitating changes to their children's schools.

"I've already seen the negative impacts of budget cuts over the years. We are doing the opposite of what needs to be done. Our schools need more money, more resources. At my son's school, we are at risk of losing all of the wonderful adults who support school climate and culture. How are schools seriously expected to meet goals of providing quality education under these conditions?" said the parent of a Westlake Middle School 6th grader.

Oaklanders can join the movement to Let Us Vote! by sending an email or calling legislators; instructions are available at

Great Oakland Public Schools is a coalition of parents, educators, students and community leaders. GO Public Schools provides leadership, education, and information to ensure that all Oakland students have access to excellent public schools in their neighborhood and throughout Oakland.

The Bay Area Parent  Leadership Action Network (PLAN) is a regional network working to unite and strengthen diverse parents and organizations to promote education justice through training, leadership development, organizing, and advocacy.

Educate Our State is a parent-led, statewide campaign to unite the voices of Californians in support of high quality K-12 Public Education and demand real change. Educate Our State represents 35,000 parents from across California and has combined forces with the Campaign for Quality Education, a coalition of over 20 organizations statewide.

For more information and to join forces visit / or /


Oakland demands: "LET US VOTE!"

Click here to email your legislator asking her/him to "Let Us Vote!" to save public education funding.

Funding for public education in the State of California is in crisis. Governor Brown's budget for K-12 public education assumes an extension of temporary taxes for another five years. These taxes are set to expire on July 1, 2011 unless the citizens of California vote to extend them.

But, first, the state legislature has to agree to bring the vote to Californians. We need 2/3 of legislators to agree by March 10, and right now, we are still short by at least 4 legislators. We need to take immediate action.

Take Action NOW:

  1. Send an email letter to your legislator asking him or her to "Let Us Vote!" to save public education funding.
  2. Ask your friends and relatives across the state to send a letter to their legislator today.
  3. Bring the "Let Us Vote!" letter (DOC here) to the next community meeting or event you attend, and ask people to take action immediately.
California voters must have the opportunity to vote to save public education funding. Let's make sure our legislatures hear our message loud and clear.

Take Action Today!

More Resources

Local Supporters

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OUSD Teacher Layoffs: Why Los Angeles Matters for Oakland

For the first time during the current recession, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) school sites will likely have to lay off teachers. For the past few years, school sites have protected teachers in their budgets and enough teachers have voluntarily left OUSD to avoid layoffs.

OUSD may lay off hundreds of teachers next year. The numbers will be less if a tax extension measure is placed on the ballot by the state legislature next week and is passed by California voters in June. Teachers who might be laid off must be given notice by March 15th.

Normally, the newest teachers are laid off first. A school site may cut a teaching position, but District-wide seniority will decide which teacher(s) actually get cut from the school. "Bumping" occurs when a teacher who did not get laid off has to give up her/his position to a teacher with higher seniority. This state policy is known as a "last-hired, first-fired" or "reverse-seniority" layoff policy.

How does what happened in Los Angeles impact Oakland?
In February 2010, students at three Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) middle schools filed a class-action lawsuit against LAUSD, charging that students' rights to a quality education were being violated by a strictly "last-hired, first-fired" layoff policy. The students argued that the layoffs were unfairly damaging to their schools because they had so many new teachers. For example, at Liechty Middle School, 72 percent of the teachers received layoff notices last school year. The layoffs were stopped by a Los Angeles Superior Court last May.

State law allows for an exception to seniority-based layoffs "for purposes of maintaining or achieving compliance with constitutional requirements related to equal protection of the laws." The Court found LAUSD's layoffs caused a "real and appreciable impact on Plaintiff's fundamental right to equal education opportunity."

The settlement reached by students, LAUSD and Partnership for Public Schools, and approved by the LAUSD board in October 2010, requires that 45 LAUSD "targeted schools" that meet agreed-upon criteria be shielded from teacher layoffs. Those 45 schools will receive LAUSD support to increase teacher and administrator attraction and retention. Also, the layoffs that would have been at those schools will be spread out more evenly among the rest of LAUSD's schools. The final settlement was challenged by United Teachers of Los Angeles.

These excerpts from the Los Angeles Superior Court's Final Approval of Settlement indicate why the Court upheld the settlement against a challenge from the United Teachers of Los Angeles:

"Under no circumstances can LAUSD bargain away students' constitutional rights" (p.4)

"The evidence adduced at the final approval hearing confirms that high teacher turnover devastates educational opportunity in multiple ways: time and resources are spent
orienting newly assigned teachers; collaboration among teachers is disrupted; teacher-student relationships are fractured; and the faculty infrastructure is undermined."(p.22)

"As this Court already recognized, teacher turnover can have many causes. Teachers may transfer to other schools, retire, or leave the profession. But voluntary turnover cannot be prohibited; layoffs can."(p.28)

"Substantial evidence throughout this litigation has shown how budget-based layoffs devastated the teaching corps at struggling LAUSD schools, removing dedicated teachers who were committed to teaching at those particular schools."(p.29)

"Providing more stability at the Districts' other struggling schools is therefore critical to allow for reform efforts...the principal at Gompers [middle school] has recruited a corps of teachers who were 'among the best teachers [she has] ever encountered in her career'....The schools invested substantially in teacher development. But the seniority-based layoffs decimated those turnaround efforts. As Mr.Deasy [the incoming LAUSD superintendent] testified, reform plans are wiped out by turnover."(p.34)

What can OUSD do?
OUSD must uphold students' fundamental right to basic equality of educational opportunity.

OUSD could comply with this state constitutional mandate to provide an equal education to all students by working with the Oakland Education Association to develop criteria for layoffs that protect the most vulnerable schools that would otherwise suffer dramatic percentages of teacher layoffs, and distribute the remaining teacher consolidations more fairly across our public schools.

OUSD can also provide effective teacher attraction and retention supports at those schools that have suffered from high teacher turnover rates and have a disproportionately high number of newer teachers, with the goal of reducing teacher turnover at those schools.

Click here to read GO's post from June 2010 when the suit in LA was first filed on behalf of students at three LAUSD middle schools.

For more information:

UPCOMING EVENT: Oakland's Changing Demographics: OUSD's Hard Decisions

How many schools does Oakland Unified need in its portfolio? How many students should our district aim to serve? What data will be reviewed to make these decisions? 

Featuring data and analysis from partner MK Think, GO Public Schools invites you to Oakland's Changing Demographics: OUSD's Hard Decisions, a community convening to discuss the capacity, enrollment and demographic data being used for OUSD strategic planning. Click here to view a 2009 MK Think presentation that outlines the facilities and assets of OUSD.

Please join us on Thursday, March 3, from 5:30-8:00pm at the Jack London Aquatic Center to discuss these important issues. Refreshments and child care will be provided.

Click here to RSVP!

Statement on Education Budget Crisis

Great Oakland Public Schools emphasizes community values of keeping dollars close to students, transparency about budgets, and flexibility with resources to guide the Oakland Unified School District's 2011-12 budget process.

We are a coalition of families, teachers, principals, community and nonprofit leaders joining together to support OUSD leadership to improve OUSD's initial 2011-2012 budget proposal and demand that California provide its children with quality and appropriately funded public education.

Last week, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) leadership released their 2011-2012 budget proposal amidst the challenging economic environment here in Oakland and budget crisis statewide.

Earlier this month, Governor Brown proposed a special election in June to increase taxes in an effort to preserve education funding. If the Governor's proposal does not pass, education funding statewide will take massive hits. OUSD leadership has asked school sites to prepare two budgets - one for if the Governor's proposal passes, one for if it fails.

In the best case scenario where the tax passes, the current OUSD proposal still cuts $7.2 million in unrestricted funds from the district budget, and OUSD leadership is proposing that schools bear 100 percent of that burden. This translates to cuts of approximately $190 per student, or about $56,000 less for a school of 300 students.

In the worst case scenario where the tax does not pass, the current OUSD proposal cuts $19.1 million in unrestricted funds from the district budget, with school sites again bearing 100 percent of the cuts. This translates to approximately $500 per student or $150,000 less for a school of 300 students.

In either case, these cuts are on top of a reduction in schools' Title I allocation. Our schools serving the most vulnerable student populations may have to cut upwards of $500 or $750 per student.

As we navigate this complicated and difficult process, we urge OUSD leaders to apply these child- and school-centered values for resource allocation.

Value #1

We value preserving resources close to students and keeping cuts as far away from students as possible.

School communities city-wide are contemplating another year of very difficult decisions about increasing class sizes, combining classes, canceling academic intervention programs, decreasing teacher preps and collaboration time, etc. The proposed cuts to sites will have devastating effects on schools' instructional programs. Below are specific examples from two OUSD schools:

"We are a 250-student school with a high free-and-reduced lunch population. Because of the reductions in Title I and General Purpose (GP) funding, we have to make a $200,000 cut. Cuts in Title I are particularly brutal as they affect our most vulnerable students. Schools with the highest rates of Title I will have to make the biggest cuts. At our school, we will have to consider options like dramatically increasing class size, eliminating summer interventions, releasing a reading intervention teacher, doing away with our Reading Partners contract, removing our school-wide data coaching, removing our teacher coaches for beginning teachers, and more."

"We are 400-student school with a low free-and-reduced lunch population. We have to make a $200,000 cut. We could barely afford our base program before this cut. We have no choice but to close teacher positions and dramatically increase class size. When we raised class size last year, our school grew and it had a dramatic impact on enrollment at many nearby schools."

In addition, we know that many of the most important factors that drive teacher retention are conditions at the school site - conditions that will be adversely impacted by the proposed cuts at sites.

Value #2

The school and central office budget development process and decision-making should be transparent so that school communities can participate. We value having the information we need to contribute to good decision-making.

We request that more detailed information about how central office budget resources are being used be made public. The central office should be responsible for providing evidence of student impact to support the trade-off of cutting programs and instructional staff at school sites.

We know the central office has been cut dramatically and reorganized in recent years.
We appreciate that the central office took a giant hit last year. We still believe that some cuts need be made centrally this year. School communities cannot support a budget where schools take the entire cut, especially when there has been little transparency about how the central office is using its resources.

Value #3

Funds should be used flexibly to maximize resources for students.

In this time of budget crisis, the state legislature has allowed specific restricted resources to be used without restriction. We must use this "categorical flexibility" to decrease the hit to schools and maximize the resources going to classrooms. And, if there are more flexible resources that can be sent to sites, they should be. While we understand that these are one-time monies, the purpose of these flexible monies is specifically to help districts weather the worst education funding crisis in the history of California. We should use it accordingly.

We support the Board of Education's clear priority and direction to staff to eliminate Oakland Unified's structural deficit. OUSD has made strong progress reducing expenditures while contending with extraordinary declines in state revenues.

OUSD is in the middle of a strategic planning process through which district leadership intends to "right-size" the school district, define quality schools, quality teaching, and quality leadership, and align our efforts towards those ends. Many structural changes including school closures are likely to result from this process. The hard work of restructuring the district (how many schools and where? which programs and services and where?) is the best path to eliminate the remaining structural deficit.

Moving Forward

Our schools and district face immediate budget challenges. Difficult decisions will be made in the upcoming days and weeks, and we urge our community to join together around the values proposed above. Our schools and students will continue to improve if we prioritize keeping resources where they are needed most - with our students.

We ask Oakland Unified to 1) make central office department budgets public, 2) send at least $6.9 million of categorical flexibility resources to school sites, and 3) work with community to identify additional central resources that might be allocated to sites.

This June, if the Governor's proposal prevails in the legislature, our state will have an opportunity. Governor Brown's ballot measure to extend temporary taxes would provide at least an additional $12 million to Oakland public schools.

We must collaborate across schools - district and charter - and organizations to create a unified citywide coalition to ensure that Oakland is mobilized to support passing the Governor's proposal.

Click here to download this statement as a PDF.

OUSD Launches Thriving Students Website

Check it out! OUSD launched a website dedicated to Thriving Students. It has everything you need to know about OUSD's plans to build a Full-Service Community School District. 

OUSD Strategic Planning - January Update

Oakland Unified has 6 months remaining on its timeline to complete a new 5-year strategic plan for public education in the City of Oakland.

This process is a powerful opportunity for community members -- parents, students, teachers, principals, taxpayers, school and central office employees, charter school employees and families, nonprofit, labor, faith, elected, and business leaders -- to provide input and resources, and build relationships to realize the aspirations of our ambitious new strategic direction -- Community Schools, Thriving Students.

The process began in June 2010, when our Board of Education approved Thriving Students and announced 14 task forces that will each draft chapters of a 5-year strategic plan. The expectation is that each chapter will include 1-, 3-, and 5-year implementation milestones for the Oakland Board of Education to review and adopt by June 2011.

At a December retreat, the Board of Education heard 5-minute updates from each of the task force leaders about the objectives and progress of their work.

Click the images for video clips of the individual task force updates.

Effective Teaching
Will make recommendations to improve the evaluation system, hiring practices, compensation, career pathways, and professional development for OUSD teachers.


Upcoming Event(s): January 20 from 4:30-6:30pm at Cole (1011 Union Street) 

African American Male Achievement
Has opportunity to develop out-of-the-box solutions and bring together resources to ensure that African-American males thrive in Oakland.

Upcoming Event(s): January 11 from 5:00 - 7:30pm at location TBA

Quality Community Schools Development
Will develop school quality standards for all Oakland public schools and a process through which to support and hold all schools in the portfolio accountable for meeting the standards -- implications for closures, new school development, turnarounds, and role of charters.

Upcoming Event(s): January 10 at 5pm at Tilden School, 4551 Steele Street

Regional Governance
Will 1) make recommendations about how local community and OUSD can share governance of schools; 2) do asset mapping of each region and align resources and services, 3) identify specific strategies for moving region forward

Upcoming Event(s): TBA

Effective Principal and Leadership

Will define the criteria by which Oakland hires, develops, and evaluates principals

Upcoming Event(s): January 25 from 4-6pm at the Tilden Campus, 4551 Steele Street, Portable D

Results Based Budgeting
Will make recommendations about 1) what decision-making authority school communities have over budgets and spending and 2) the funding formulas for allocating resources (how much money each school receives)

Upcoming Event(s): TBA

Options and School Choice
Will determine the future of school choice in Oakland

Upcoming Event(s): January 24 from 6:30-8:00pm, Westlake Middle School (2629 Harrison Street)

Facilities and Asset Management

Will identify potential revenue sources from facilities assets and make recommendations on the optimal number and size of schools in each region.

Upcoming Event(s): TBA

Core Curriculum

Will answer the question of what students will need to know and be able to do at each grade level in order to be ready for both college and careers upon graduation.

Upcoming Event(s): January 11 at 4pm, Tilden School Auditorium (4551 Steele Street)

Financial and Operational Readiness

Will make recommendations to eliminate OUSD's structural deficit and improve the efficiency of OUSD operations and support systems.

Upcoming Event(s): TBA

Full Service Community Schools

Will define what OUSD means by full service community schools (FSCS) and full service community district. Will design a rubric for the components of a FSCS so that schools can rate their status in becoming a FSCS and determine where they need to work.

Upcoming Event(s): January 13 from 3:30-6:00pm at 495 Jones Street

Healthy Kids, Healthy Oakland Data

Will develop a single-shared data system which will include academic performance, test scores, attendance, truancy, nutrition, housing, physical/mental health, recreation, crime/violence, etc.

Upcoming Event(s): TBA

Develop approach to ensuring literacy for college and career readiness pre-k to grade 12

Upcoming Event(s):January 11 at 4pm, Tilden School Auditorium (4551 Steele Street)

Secondary Experience and Achievement

Will make recommendations to redesign the secondary experience to ensure that all students graduate and meet the board's new policy around UC/CSU A-G requirements.

Upcoming Event(s): February 3 at location TBA

Click here to view a 90 minute video of the presentations.


One of our most deeply held values as Oaklanders is that those impacted by decisions should be included in the decision-making. Many community organizations and voices expressed interest in helping shape this new strategic plan for Oakland public schools.

Over the next 6 months, it is up to each of us as parents, educators, and community members to show up to listen, share, dialogue, and create the bright future our children and youth deserve.

We urge members of the GO network (particularly teachers and parents) to consider joining and/or participating on a task force.

This is our education community's opportunity to shape the future of Oakland public schools.

Together, we can seize this moment to establish an innovative and student-centered direction for our city's public schools.


1) Start participating in a task force yourself - and ask one friend or colleague to join you!

2) Bring task forces up at your School Site Council, PTA, or ELAC meeting and ask other parents and teachers to commit to participating.

3) Send an email directly to the Task Force lead with your experiences and perspective.

4) Make the OUSD Calendar or GO's OUSD strategic planning portal the homepage on your browser so you stay informed about the latest news.

5) Be positive and solution-oriented whatever you do!


GO statement from June 2010 expressing support for the Board of Education's unanimous adoption of this new direction developed with the leadership of Superintendent Smith and asking for greater emphasis and further discussion about the role of effective teaching and empowered school communities within the new framework.

GO letter from October 2010 raising questions about the pace of the work and task force membership, composition, and participation expectations.

Blog post about October 28 meeting when GO hosted OUSD task force leaders for an update on the planning process and dialogue within each strategic planning task force.

OUSD Task Force Website and Calendar

Additional Thoughts on GO's 2011 Wish List

GO Public Schools would like to offer an appreciation for the lively discussion that Katy Murphy's posting of our 2011 Oakland Education Policy Wish List has prompted. The more of us that are willing to talk openly and honestly about our experiences and perspectives - the stronger the dialogue, the better the decisions, and the greater will be the outcomes for our kids.

GO Public Schools is a pro-student, pro-teacher, and pro-labor organization. Five of seven GO board members are former teachers. Two of three GO staff members have experience teaching in low-income communities and communities of color.

We remain steadfast in our belief that every student - regardless of their demographics or income level - deserves an effective, competent and passionate teacher every day of every year. But the stark reality is that we're not there yet - the evidence is in the data: the graduation rates, the drop out rates, the hated test scores, the college enrollment numbers - and we need to work together to get there.

We offer here a few points of clarification about a couple of our wish list items that have catalyzed the ongoing commentary.

The Oakland Education Association is a powerful voice and an important stakeholder in the Oakland education policy dialogue that influences decisions that extraordinarily impact students, teachers, and other employee groups. GO actively urges teachers and school sites to be sure that their voices are included in OEA's democratic processes.

Last year, there was only minimal to moderate participation from Oakland teachers in the core decision-making bodies and activities of the union.
  • In March 2010, only 34% of dues paying OEA members (940 out of 2,800) voted in the election for the OEA president
  • In January and May 2010, only 28% and 27% of dues paying OEA members (771 and 775 out of 2,800) participated in the two strike authorization votes. This means that 70% of union members were silent on both occasions.
  • In November 2010, only 12% of OEA members (341 out of 2,800) participated in a vote to reaffirm OEA's strike position

In addition, there is evidence of low levels of representation at the monthly OEA Site Representative Council meetings. There are 99 traditional public schools and 22 Child Development Centers in OUSD and each site may send at least 1 OEA Site Representative. Last year, the OEA Representative Council voted 43 to 12 to remain neutral on Measure L - a total of 55 votes were cast.

An example of OEA's power and the resulting consequences for public schools in Oakland can be seen in the recent Measure L ballot initiative. Measure L garnered 66 percent approval from Oakland voters, but failed to pass by about 450 votes against the measure. Despite OEA's official neutrality, members of the OEA leadership actively campaigned against Measure L - discouraging support at staff meetings, posting on blogs, and standing outside schools discouraging parents from supporting the measure.

When Measure L was defeated on November 2, every Oakland teacher (and other site-based employee) lost tens of thousands of additional dollars they would have received in increased compensation over the 10-year life of the tax.

We are grateful for the dedication, participation, and service of those individuals who currently participate in OEA. We know there are site reps chosen because they are great teachers. But serving as a site representative is too often seen as an extra duty that a member of a school team needs to accept - independent of reputation for great instructional practice or results for students.

Our wish list also raised the case of a principal who has a teacher that is not meeting the needs of her students.

Schools serving larger numbers of children who are coming to school behind or coming to school disengaged and unmotivated need very effective teachers - teachers who can close that achievement gap and accelerate their learning, can differentiate for all the levels and learning styles, and build the relationships necessary to motivate and engage some of our "falling through the cracks" youth.

This principal's struggle has to do with her need to have a school of very effective teachers to really address the needs of the student population she serves. A teacher who is perpetually mediocre will not be able to address the needs of the student population at that school. But the current system does not support this principal to remove the perpetually mediocre teacher - and our students lose precious instructional time that cannot be recaptured.

We ask a lot of our teachers, but we have to ask it. There are many wonderfully talented, dedicated, and effective teachers all over Oakland who do this work everyday. But many is not good enough for our students - all is what is required. If we don't demand it, our public education system becomes part of the larger system that perpetuates poverty and disadvantage in the same neighborhoods and in the same communities generation after generation. That is unacceptable.

GO understands that to ask this of teachers, we need to pay them more, we need to more adequately support them, we need to engage them as leaders, and provide opportunities for growth, which is why we worked so hard to get Measure L passed (in collaboration with other labor organizations) and why we push OUSD to push resources to schools and cut central budgets.

We need a clear community understanding of what Oakland means by an "effective" teacher, and tools and processes in place to ensure a great teacher for every child.

Our conversation needs to be about what is best for our children - and we need to be open-minded, listening, and learning from each other about how best to serve them.

We should not tolerate mediocrity in our public schools. Quality is everyone's responsibility and every child's right.

We would be very interested in partnering with the Oakland Education Association to help make Oakland's voice more prominently heard in Sacramento regarding adequately funding our public schools.

Thanks to everyone on the list and in the community for your work on behalf of Oakland children and youth. Here's to a great 2011!

Allison Akhnoukh, James Harris, Jonathan Klein, Sheilagh Polk, and Hae-Sin Thomas, Board of Directors, Great Oakland Public Schools

GO Public Schools Happy Hour - Friday, January 7

What: Join fellow Oakland educators for a welcome back celebration. You'll also get a chance to learn about the work of GO Public Schools.

When: Friday, January 7th from 4:30- 6pm

Where: Quinn's Lighthouse ~ 1951 Embarcadero East  (Embarcadero Cove Marina - Oakland, CA 94606)

Free drinks for the first 10 teachers!

Oakland Education Policy Top 10 Wish List for 2011

2011 brings renewed opportunity for us to get things done for Oakland students. Here is GO's Top 10 Wish List for 2011!

  1. Participation from Oakland's best teachers in the Oakland Education Association's Representative Council and March 2011 Executive Board Election.
  2. A Deputy Mayor for Education in Mayor Quan's office who knows the issues, speaks for all students, and is empowered to convene and align agencies and partners.
  3. Wisdom within Oakland's education leadership to ensure that Thriving Students (OUSD's new strategic direction) puts Oakland public schools on a path to be both hubs of services and centers of learning and high-quality teaching.
  4. An outcomes orientation for these final 6 months of OUSD strategic planning that sees the forest through the trees and doesn't spend all its time and energy on process.
  5. A new and better answer to an Oakland principal who in a recent meeting said that the biggest pain point within OUSD is having to retain mediocre teachers.
  6. Audacity and resilience among West Oakland leaders to come together to do something different and bold on behalf of West Oakland public schools and students.
  7. Specificity within Thriving Students about the positive role charter public schools play in providing quality educational opportunities to Oakland children and youth.
  8. Constructive dialogue to address long-standing critiques of Oakland's charter movement (e.g. access to special education programs, "creaming," expulsion, etc.)
  9. Increased vision and emphasis on the roles of education technology and virtual learning environments in our public schools as we endeavor to do more for our students with fewer resources.
  10. Generosity of spirit across neighborhoods, communities and organizations with renewed mindfulness of the proverb that rain does not fall on one roof alone.
In 2010, GO was an important watchdog for student-centered policy and good governance on the Board of Education -- launching new websites and a policy fellowship, and continuing the Board Agenda Watch which previews and reports on every board meeting.

GO played a critical role on the YES on Measure L campaign and emerged as an important actor on the local political scene -- providing Oaklanders with a video voter guide of candidates' views on education policy and demonstrating to local candidates that student-centered positions are good politics.

GO also convened community dialogues about the role of the school board, OUSD's strategic planning task force process, and effective principals which were attended by more than 300 Oakland community members.

In 2011, GO will continue to 1) advocate for GO's beliefs and visions within OUSD's strategic planning process, 2) promote engagement among Oakland teachers with OEA and OUSD decision-making, and 3) participate in the West Oakland coalition working to change conditions and accelerate achievement for West Oakland students.

Join Us! Teacher Happy Hour December 10th

What: A networking event for Oakland teachers to learn about GO Public Schools and meet fellow educators and education advocates

When: Friday, December 10th from 4:30-6pm

Where: Chop Bar: 247 4th Street at Alice (near Jack London Square)

Who: All Oakland education advocates are welcome to join us!

Free drinks for the first 10 teachers!
Light snacks provided by Chop Bar!

Principal Leadership Dialogue Next Week

Join GO Public Schools and New Leaders for New Schools for an evening of learning and dialogue about principal effectiveness in Oakland.

This is a chance for us - community members, principals, teachers, parents - to come together to consider how the district can ensure an effective leader in every Oakland public school.

Location: Jack London Aquatic Center, 115 Embarcadero, Oakland, CA 94606
When: Wednesday, December 8, 5:30 - 8:00PM

Refreshments and child care will be provided.

Click here to RSVP!

5:30 - Networking and refreshments
6:00 - Program (Details below)

Gia Truong, Executive Officer of Leadership, Curriculum, and Instruction in OUSD and participant in the New Leaders for New Schools program will open the evening with an overview of the work and impact of New Leaders for New Schools (NLNS) in Oakland.

Next, Matt Kelemen of NLNS will present highlights from Evaluating Principals, a recent white paper released by the organization, highlighting ideas for the design and implementation of evaluation systems to increase principal effectiveness.

A panel of Oakland education stakeholders, including principals, teachers, and parents, will respond to the ideas presented, considering how the research applies to Oakland's public schools. Panelists include Jerome Gourdine, Principal of Frick Middle School, Monica Thomas, Principal of Greenleaf Elementary, Enikia Ford-Morthel, Principal of Cox Academy, Karen Pezzetti, teacher at Life Academy, and Emma Paulino, Oakland parent and OCO lead organizer.

Finally, you will have the opportunity to break into small groups to reflect on, discuss, and provide input to the Oakland community on the topics of the evening.

Click here to RSVP!

OUSD Strategic Task Forces: Upcoming Meetings

It's a busy month for OUSD strategic planning task forces, and the community is invited to participate in all meetings! Click on the links below to find out the time and location for each of these upcoming task force meetings, and click here for a complete calendar and task force overview.

GO in Spanish!

Much of the content of the GO website is now available in Spanish! Click here to access our Spanish language site.

Google translate can be used to translate our website into many other languages. Click any of the language links at the bottom of the home page to get started!

What do election results mean for Oakland Public Schools?

From local government to Capitol Hill, new leaders elected on November 2 could influence improvement for Oakland's students.  What do these leaders have planned for our schools?  

Mayor Jean Quan, a former school board member, plans to strengthen volunteer recruitment, programs for  disconnected youth, and primary school  literacy rates. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is emphasizing school funding, neighborhood schools, charter school accountability, wraparound services and 21st Century schools.

California's Governor Jerry Brown brings a long and deep history with public schools and higher education. He plans to reform education funding, testing, teacher recruitment and training, increase local control, improve curriculum, and emphasize technology. He will have to grapple with a budget crisis and restrictive voter mandates.

Republicans regaining control of the US Congress means the No Child Left Behind (ESEA) re-authorization could be shelved, rewritten to emphasize reforms, or reworked to diminish the role of the federal government. The Race to the Top grant competition, funded with stimulus dollars, will play some role in future political deal-making.

GO Hosts OUSD Strategic Planning Workshop

On October 28, over 115 Oakland education advocates came together to participate in a strategic planning workshop with OUSD's task force leaders. The room was filled with diverse perspectives, experiences, and expertise, and the GO network was offered a tremendous opportunity. OUSD leaders published dates, times, and locations for all upcoming task force meetings, and extended an invitation to the community to engage in building the district's strategic plan together.

This is the opportunity we've been asking for - OUSD leadership opened up the strategic planning process to the Oakland community. Our voices will contribute to the rich conversations and decisions that will shape the new strategic plan.

Task Force Workshop 2.JPG

Vernon Hal, OUSD's Chief Financial Officer, shared with the GO community that the district's strategic plan includes ten strategic initiatives (comprised of 14 task forces), divided into two big buckets:

  1. High Quality Effective Instruction
  2. Readying the Organization to become a Full Service Community District  

Community Engagement

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While each of the 14 task forces has a different process, timeline, and work plan that corresponds with its group's goals and deliverables, Mr. Hal explained that there are a variety of ways people can get involved with the process of turning the strategic vision into reality.

What you can do: Attend a task force meeting. All dates, times, and locations are published on OUSD's calendar, with the upcoming meetings as follows:

  • November 1, 6:30pm - Quality Schools Development Group
  • November 4, 2:00pm - Secondary Experience and Achievement (SEAN)
  • November 4, 3:30pm - Full Service Community Schools Task Force
  • November 4, 4:30pm - Teacher Effectiveness Task Force Task Force

Who will be Oakland's Next School Board?

Vote For Oakland Public Schools crop.jpg

On September 17th, Great Oakland Public Schools members interviewed all four Oakland School Board candidates. District 4 (Montclair/Laurel/Dimond) is our only competitive school board race, with incumbent Gary Yee challenged by Ben Visnick. District 2 incumbent David Kakishiba and District 6 incumbent Chris Dobbins are running unopposed.

What kind of leadership can we expect from the next school board? GO filmed an opening statement from each school board candidate, and then asked questions about solutions and strategies for public education in Oakland. Each candidate had lots of ideas to share. Here are just a few quotations:


Gary Yee Thumb.jpg
Words shared by Gary Yee 

Teacher retention 
"Teachers tend to be retained if they have a sense of professional efficacy, that means that the work they put in makes a difference, they have a social network in the school with instructional leadership, and they are connected to the community."

"One of the things that I have been talking to many people in union leadership about is developing a career ladder so teachers who are working and serving effectively in high turnover schools can maybe have a position as a senior teacher to provide a curriculum and pedagogical anchor in the school."

Effective teachers
"I was a principal so I know what it means to have effective teachers and ineffective teachers. We need to have a system that does both - that retains effective teachers and persuades people for whom teaching is not the right profession, to move on to another profession."

Ben Visnick Thumb.jpg
Words shared by Ben Visnick

School Board/Superintendent relationship
"This school board needs a critical voice. If you watch school board meetings, often the votes are 7 to 0. And somehow the board thinks, you know, we have a new Superintendent, and he is like superman, no pun intended, and we need to have a critical voice."

"Right size" for the school district
"I also am calling for a more efficient use of our resources. One of my ideas is to merge the Emeryville and the Piedmont School Districts into a greater Oakland Unified School District. Particularly, merging Emery High School with McClymonds makes a lot of sense in the West Oakland area."

Teacher compensation
"I'm not for merit pay, but if we ever do get merit pay, I think it should first be for middle school teachers."

Kakishiba Thumb.jpg
Words shared by David Kakishiba (District 4)

Teacher retention 
"As a school district, we have to move towards more of a teacher-leader framework for driving and leading teacher training, professional development, supporting brand new teachers, being able to have teachers play a big role individually and in teams at schools."

OUSD/City partnership 
"For too long there has been a tremendous waste of time engaging politicians in trying to do strong, effective collaboration [between OUSD and City Hall]."

Chris Dobbins Thumb.jpg
Words shared by Chris Dobbins (District 6)

OUSD/City partnerships
"A lot of times we talk to city council people, they want to use the schools, you know, the school sites themselves for actual functions and things like that, which is nice, and we want to do that, but we also want to have that reciprocity with us, with our schools being able to use parks, being able to use other facilities, city buildings."

School leadership
"We challenge our principals, I think, a lot more in Oakland because of the results-based budgeting process. They have to be almost CEOs, if you will, if you want to look at it in a business context. So in order to have strong teachers you want to have effective leaders as well."

Check out the entire Vote for Oakland Students: Education Video Voter Guide for a look at Oakland's mayoral and school board candidates. Mayoral, City Council and School Board candidates also completed detailed questionnaires on public education. Read what they had to say.

November 2nd is Election Day. Don't forget to VOTE.

Get Out the Vote for Yes on L

There are just five, yes five, days until Election Day. Thanks to a great deal of volunteer support, the Yes on L campaign is charging ahead. But, we can't stop just yet. To pass Measure L, we must make sure that every Yes on L supporter casts his or her vote on November 2.  

Get Out the Vote (GOTV) activities help not only to persuade voters to support Yes on L, but also remind supporters to vote in this year's election. 

Friday, October 29 - Tuesday, November 2 (Election Day) we're asking all supporters to help with one last big push to pass Measure L! Here are some great volunteer opportunities. To sign up or for more information email or call 510-868-8800

Friday, October 29 
  • Distribute GOTV flyers to families at targeted school locations, 7:30 - 9:00am or  2:30 - 4:00pm (locations TBA)
  • Distribute GOTV flyers at the Montclair Halloween Parade, 3:15pm at Bank of America, 496 Lake Park Avenue
Saturday, October 30
  • Table and distribute GOTV flyers at Grand Lake Farmer's Market
  • Distribute GOTV flyers at Lakeshore Annual Halloween Parade & Fall Festival, 11:00am, Lakeshore Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Avenue 
  • Distribute GOTV flyers at Trick or Treat in the Laurel, 12:00 - 2:00pm, on MacArthur Blvd. between the corners of 35th Avenue and High Street. 
  • Distribute GOTV flyers at The Haunted Hallway at Piedmont Avenue Elementary School, 11:00am - 2:00pm, 4314 Piedmont Avenue
Sunday, October 31
  • Distribute GOTV Flyers at the Children's Halloween Parade Rockridge, 12:00pm, 5951 College Avenue
  • Table and distribute GOTV flyers at the Montclair Farmers Market
  • Distribute GOTV flyers at local churches 
Monday, November 1
  • Distribute GOTV flyers to families at targeted school locations (locations TBA) 
  • Phone bank -  short voting reminder calls at East Bay Asian Youth Center
  • Visibility actions - hold signs at busy intersections and freeway on-ramps (locations 

Tuesday, November 2
  • Distribute GOTV flyers to families at targeted school locations, 7:30 - 9:00am or  2:30 - 4:00pm (locations TBA) 
  • Polling place visibility - distribute GOTV cards in high density voting precincts 
  • Phone bank -  short voting reminder calls at East Bay Asian Youth Center
  • Visibility actions - hold signs at busy intersections and freeway on-ramps (locations TBA)

OUSD Strategic Planning Portal

In June 2010, the OUSD Board of Education unanimously approved a new strategic direction for Oakland's public schools: Community Schools, Thriving Students.

Plans include the development of strategic task forces to support the creation of a full service community district that serves the whole child, eliminates inequity, and provides each child with an excellent teacher every day.

It is critical that parents and teachers are represented on every task force. GO Public Schools shared a letter with OUSD leaders expressing concerns about the lack of community involvement in the strategic planning process so far, and has invited district and task force leaders to a community meeting on Thursday, October 28th to share the objectives, work plans, and opportunities for community engagement.

Click on the links below to learn more about each of the task force's goals, deliverables, leadership, process, and time line.

YES on L: Volunteer Opportunities THIS WEEK

There's lots you can do THIS WEEK to support the Yes on L campaign!

  • Help us deliver lawn signs this Thursday, October 14 from 2-4pm or 4-6pm.
  • Join volunteers for YES on L phone banking this Sunday, October 17 from 4-7pm.
  • Email Jasmine or call 510-868-8800 for details on how to get involved!
Support our public schools - volunteer today! 

There are even more great volunteer opportunities throughout the month! 
Email Jasmine  or call 510-868-8800 to get started! 

VIDEO: School Board Candidates Discuss Public Education in Oakland

GO Public Schools introduces Vote for Oakland Students: School Board Candidate Video Voter Guide 2010.

GO members interviewed all four school board candidates to find out their plans for improving public education in Oakland. Click each candidate's image to view a different segment of the interview. 





There are four school board candidates vying for three seats:

  • District 2: David Kakishiba (unopposed)
  • District 4: Gary Yee v. Ben Visnick
  • District 6: Chris Dobbins (unopposed)

Vote for Oakland Students: School Board Candidate Video Voter Guide 2010 joins GO's Mayoral Candidate Video Voter Guide on the GO website along with extensive candidate questionnaires and general information on the elections and voting.

ALERT: GO Launches Vote for Oakland Students: Video Education Voter Guide

Candidates share plans to retain great teachers, partner with the school district, and advocate for students 

On November 2, Oakland voters will elect a new mayor. While crime and economic development often grab the headlines, foundation for a prosperous future and the solution to many of our challenges lie within our public schools. Over the course of two Monday nights (September 13th and 20th), members of Great Oakland Public Schools interviewed all ten mayoral candidates at KDOL Studios about public education in Oakland. The Vote for Oakland: Video Education Voter Guide is being shared on the GO website so that any Oakland voter can see and hear what candidates intend to do for Oakland schools and students.

Many candidates acknowledged that improving our public schools and educating our youth are the most important items we need to tackle as a City. The candidates' level of expertise and education ideas were wide-ranging. Many Oakland families, teachers, and community leaders expect to see much stronger efforts from City Hall and the School District to work together than what they have seen in the past.

After candidates made their opening statement about their education platforms, GO members asked three questions:

  1. What will you do to attract and retain great teachers in every Oakland public school?
  2. OUSD's new strategic vision, Thriving Students, requires tremendous collaboration and partnership between OUSD and City Hall, including on facilities, health, safety, and more. How would you have City Hall partner with the school district to serve our students?
  3. How do you envision the Mayor's role as an advocate for our students?

Oakland mayors have had an assortment of ways of working for better public schools. Mayor Elihu Harris convened an "Education Cabinet" for several years, Mayor Jerry Brown got voter approval to appoint three people to the school board (the measure expired in 2004), and Mayor Ron Dellums has a senior education advisor on his staff. Mayors across the United States are attempting to improve education outcomes through advocacy, better management, and bringing community assets to schools.

The Vote for Oakland: Video Education Voter Guide is posted along with extensive candidate questionnaires and general information on the elections and voting. In addition, DVDs of the interviews have been distributed to hundreds of Oakland education stakeholders, including principals, teachers, and community members. Recipients are encouraged to host a house party or other viewing forum to talk about the upcoming election and the importance of Mayoral platforms on public education. For those interested in obtaining a copy of the DVD, GO Public Schools will make every effort to accommodate requests. Please email us at to request a copy.

Yes on L Campaign Kick-off a Success!

Over 100 advocates for public education in the City of Oakland came together this morning at the Yes on L Campaign Kick-off at Sequoia Elementary School. In addition to parents, students, teachers, and principals from across the City, School Board Directors London, Yee, Kakishiba, and Dobbins represented OUSD alongside Superintendent Tony Smith. The enthusiasm in the room was palpable as Superintendent Smith rallied the crowd around the need to support excellent teachers in Oakland's public schools.

A wide range of community organizations attended the rally, demonstrating a strong, diverse show of support for Measure L and Oakland's public schools. In attendance were representatives from EBAYC, Oakland Schools Foundation, GO Public Schools, West Oakland Education Brain Trust, Oakland Community Organizations, Faith Network, Oakland Parents Together, California Charter Schools Association, UAOS, and more!

The Measure L campaign has 38 days to go - get involved now!

Oaklanders Come Together for YES on L!

Oaklanders across the city are coming together for YES on L: The Oakland Student Achievement, Safety, and Support Measure.

Massive state budget cuts, reduced federal funding, and a sluggish economy forced OUSD to slash $122 million from our 2010-11 budget. The District has already laid off more than 600 people, including teachers, aides, librarians, custodians, school nurses and security staff. These types of devastating cuts simply cannot continue.

YES on L helps Oakland schools retain experienced, effective teachers by paying competitive salaries.

YES on L provides ALL Oakland schools additional funding - not just a select few - so that ALL of our schools, including those who need it the most - have resources and support staff to meet children's essential social, emotional and academic needs.

Measure L benefits all school site employees and includes exemptions for low-income taxpayers and fiscal accountability provisions such as requiring review by a Citizens' Oversight Committee, public expenditure reports, and guaranteed annual independent audits.

Please keep reading and take 5 minutes to support "Yes on L" right now.

Si, se puede.



Click here to add your name to the growing list (see below) of Oakland leaders and citizens who are joining together to provide an additional $20 million for Oakland public schools for each of the next 10 years.


OUSD and charter public school employees are permitted and encouraged to distribute informational materials about Measure L within your school communities -- at Back-to-School nights, PTA, SSC, and ELAC meetings, through home-school folders, and via other opportunities.

OUSD employees are not permitted to engage in advocacy on behalf of ballot measures while at work, so the language in these documents is meant to be informative rather than persuasive in nature.

Click here to download OUSD's informational materials for English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Cambodian readers.


Click here to join the YES on L Facebook page. The YES on L campaign will share updates on campaign activities and events between now and election day - November 2, 2010.


Click here for a YES on L lawn sign or to volunteer on the campaign. YES on L is organizing visibility and voter contact events in every Oakland district.


Click here to make a donation to YES on L. YES on L needs your support to ensure it has the financial resources to reach Oakland voters between now and election day.

YES on L Supporters

Click here to add your name to the list.

Elected Officials
Sheila Jordan, Alameda County Superintendent
Gary Yee, OUSD Board President
David Kakishiba, OUSD Board Member
Jody London, OUSD Board Member
Alice Spearman, OUSD Board Member
Chris Dobbins, OUSD Board Vice President
Jumoke Hinton-Hodge, OUSD Board Member
Pat Kernighan, Oakland City Council
Larry Reid, Oakland City Council
Jean Quan, Oakland City Council
Ken Rice, OUSD Board Member (ret)
Kerry Hamill, OUSD Board Member (ret)
Nicky Yuen, Peralta CCD Board Trustee

Community Organizations
Alameda County Democratic Party
Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club
Oakland League of Women Voters
Oakland Community Organizations
Great Oakland Public Schools
East Bay Asian Youth Center
Bret Harte Middle School PTA

Education and Community Leaders
Dr. Robert W. Blackburn, Former OUSD Superintendent
Dr. Ruth B. Love, Former OUSD Superintendent
Henry Hitz, Oakland Parents Together
Joanna Lougin, Former OUSD Principal
Morris Tatum, Head Custodian, Oakland High School
Sally Barry, PTA Vice-President, Chabot Elementary
Jesse Phelps, PTO Co-President, Emerson Elementary
Mike Fee, PTA President, Joaquin Miller Elementary
Celia Davis, PTA President, Bret Harte Middle School
Karen Pezetti, Former OUSD Teacher of the Year
Anthony Cody
Caleb Cheung
Susan Audap
Hae-Sin Thomas
Jean Driscoll
Judy Schwartz, Parent, Oakland Technical High School
Meg Stewart, Resource Specialist, Bret Harte Middle School
Brian Rogers
Dagmar Serota
Donn Harris, Executive Director, Oakland School for the Arts
Ron Strochlic, Parent, Glenview Elementary
Erin Kollings, Teacher, Futures Elementary
Paulette Drawsand, Attendance Clerk, OUSD
Deanita Lewis, Parent Coordinator, Coliseum College Prep Academy
Peter Fiske, Parent, Chabot Elementary
Jessica Stewart, Former Teacher, Elmhurst Community Prep Middle School
Bruce Buckelew, Oakland Technology Exchange West
Bob Spencer, Board Chair, National Equity Project
Amy Boyle, Teacher, Coliseum College Prep Academy
Erica Favela, Teacher, Greenleaf Elementary
Juliana Houston, Teacher, Westlake Middle School
James Barton, Teacher, Berkley Maynard Academy
Emily Sacks, Resource Specialist, Redwood Heights Elementary
Michael Alston, Teacher, Montera Middle School
Liz Sullivan, Oakland Community Organizations
Mark and Karen Bloom, Parents, Joaquin Miller Elementary School
Suzanne Loosen, Oakland League of Women Voters
Yuri Vasquez, 2010 Valedictorian, Mandela High School
Michele Clark, Executive Director, Youth Employment Partnership
Gianna Tran, Deputy Executive Director, East Bay Asian Youth Center

This is a partial list of YES on L endorsements. YES on L enjoys the support of hundreds of Oakland citizens from all walks of life. Organizations are included for identification purposes only.

Click here to add your name to the list.

Click here for more information about YES on L: Oakland's Student Achievement, Safety, and Support Measure

Now is the time! Show your support for Measure L, OUSD's parcel tax

On November 2, Oaklanders will vote on Measure L, The Student Achievement, Support and Safety Measure. If it receives the two-thirds vote needed to pass, Measure L will generate $20 million annually for ten years to increase compensation for Oakland's teachers, student support staff, and school-site health and safety personnel.

Why is this so important?

  • 55% of Oakland teachers leave after three years
  • Oakland loses more than 14% of its teaching force annually
  • Average teacher salaries in Oakland rank at or near the bottom when compared to other districts locally and throughout California
  • The average Oakland teacher can earn $10,000 more simply by transferring to a neighboring district      

Why now?

  • Oakland Unified has already cut $122 million from the budget, including more than 600 personnel positions
  • 7 out of 10 Oakland voters agree that the district simply does not have the resources to increase teacher salaries (June 2010 Poll Results)

Facts about Measure L:

  • Yes on L helps ALL Oakland schools with additional funding.  
  • Money from Measure L will go directly into compensation for effective teachers and staff, bringing Oakland on par with neighboring school districts, allowing us to help keep excellent Oakland teachers in Oakland schools.
  • Measure L priorities help ensure every school has adequate student support staff, including teachers' aides, safety officers, and custodians.
  • Learn more here!

Endorse Measure L now!

Spread the word


GO Public Schools Policy Fellowship

About the Fellowship
GO Public Schools offers education advocates the opportunity to research and impact local policy decisions as related to public education in the City of Oakland. We are seeking fellows to focus on the each of the Oakland Unified School District's board committees: teaching and learning, intergovernmental relations, facilities, safety, and finance and human resources. Fellows will gain practical experience in research and writing, policy advocacy, and educational outreach.

Policy fellows will:
  • Review agendas, attend meetings, and highlight decisions of Oakland Unified School District Board of Education meetings, including committee meetings; draft blog posts for GO website; represent GO Public Schools at meetings; engage with Board members as needed
  • Provide in-depth policy analysis and reporting on local and federal education policy issues as they relate to GO Public Schools
  • Advocate around GO's positions and strategies for improvement  
  • Draft, edit, and finalize press releases, policy and endorsement letters, board memos, and talking points
  • Support GO's overall policy positions and advocacy strategies for advancing the organization's mission
  • Opportunity to impact public education policy in Oakland
  • Be part of a dynamic team of educators and education advocates
  • Gain practical research, writing, and advocacy skills
  • Opportunity to interact with elected and appointed district officials

Qualifications Required
The ideal candidate will be a self-starter with strong project management and communication skills. This individual will support our policy research and analysis. 

Qualifications include:
  • Understanding of and/or willingness to learn about Oakland and Oakland Unified School District stakeholders
  • Strong and strategic written and verbal communication skills, with a willingness to engage in public speaking
  • Flexibility and transportation to attend Board of Education committee and/or regular meetings as assigned (Note: some Board committees meet during the day, while others meet in the evenings. Fellows must commit to attending a strand of meetings).
  • Commitment for full semester (September 2010 - January 2011) with opportunity to extend through June 2011
This is a part-time fellowship, which will involve some travel around Oakland.

All applicants should submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Jack Holzman, Director of Data, via email: Please include the reference "Policy Fellowship" in the subject line.

Deadline to apply: May 5, 2016.

Who is Running for Oakland School Board This November?

District 2 - David Kakishiba (running unopposed)
David Kakishiba (incumbent) is the Executive Director of the East Bay Asian Youth Center (EBAYC) and is also a life- long living advocate for students. He was one of the founders of several youth organizations including  Oakland Kids First, Youth Together, and Youth Sounds.

District 4 - Gary Yee, Ben Visnick
Gary Yee (incumbent) has been a resident of Oakland for many years and has been an educator for over thirty years. He  began his career in public education in 1973 as a third grade teacher at Cleveland Elementary School, directing the district's Gifted and Talented Education Program (1983-85), serving as assistant principal at Franklin Year Round School and Principal at Hillcrest School (1985-90), and Assistant to the Superintendent (1992-1995). He  graduated from Castlemont High School, the University of California at Berkeley, California State University at Hayward (Teaching Credential and Masters in Public Administration), and Stanford University.

Ben Visnick is a Social Studies teacher at Oakland Senior High School. He received his BA in History from Brandeis University, his teaching credential from Temple University, and his MA in American History from San Francisco State University.

District 6 - Christopher Dobbins (running unopposed)

Christopher Dobbins (incumbent) attended and graduated from Carl B. Munck Elementary School, Montera Junior High School, and Skyline High School. He has a B.A. in Urban Planning from U.C. Berkeley, a Single-Subject teaching credential in Social Studies from California State University, a Masters in Public Administration from California State University, and a  JD and  a Masters of Business Administration from San Francisco State University.

Stay tuned to GO Public Schools to hear from these candidates.

Back to Elections Home Page

Teacher Parcel Tax - How it can ensure effective teaching in every classroom, every day

GO Public Schools applauds the Oakland Unified School District's Board of Education for taking leadership to increase the salaries of our teachers and other school staff, and in particular, focusing the parcel tax to "retain effective and skilled teaching staff to improve student achievement, and to fund teacher development to improve teacher performance." GO Public Schools continues to advocate that an effective teacher in every classroom is the single most important in-school factor determining student achievement.

The proposed parcel tax measure would raise $20 million for the Oakland Unified School District, providing an approximate 6% raise to teachers, student support staff, and school-site health and safety staff. To learn more about the provisions in the measure, please click here.

In order to ensure that the collected parcel tax funds actually increase student achievement, GO Public Schools would ask the Board to commit to not spending any Oakland taxpayer dollars until the Board adopts a definition of effective teaching, a clear system for measuring effectiveness, and a system for supporting teachers who do not meet this standard of effectiveness. GO believes that this commitment would support the District in its stated goal of having an effective teacher in every classroom, every day.  Without this commitment, GO does not believe that the district will be able to truly correlate the use of tax dollars with teacher effectiveness and increased student performance.

Therefore, GO Public Schools respectfully asks that in addition to placing the parcel tax on the ballot, the OUSD Board of Education passes a Resolution stating that any funds collected from the parcel tax cannot be used until a clear definition of effective teaching and an evaluative system for measuring teacher effectiveness are adopted by the Board. We believe that by passing this Resolution, the Board will be holding itself accountable to its own strategic priorities and the taxpayers of Oakland.

In addition, the proposed ballot measure does not address teacher recruitment. While increased salaries will help with teacher recruitment in Oakland, it will not, by itself, ensure an effective teacher in every classroom. We ask that the issue of recruiting quality teachers be addressed by the Board as part of this measure, or in some other clear manner. Our teacher workforce is facing a large wave of retirements in the next few years; this parcel tax presents an opportunity to help Oakland attract the teaching force our children deserve.

We understand this parcel tax is just one tool to ensure an effective teacher in every classroom, and we ask that the Board make the most of this unique opportunity for voters to support improved public schools in Oakland.

The Board of Education will be holding a special meeting tomorrow at 8pm at 1025 Second Avenue to discuss this parcel tax measure, and will vote on whether to place it on the November ballot. Join them to share your thoughts!

GO Hosts Speaker Series: The Roles and Responsibilities of the Oakland School Board

IMG_3185v2.JPGLast night, nearly 100 Oakland education advocates gathered for GO's Elections Season Kick-Off, co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of Oakland. In attendance were educators, parents, school/district staff, Board members, community members, and education advocates from across the City. After guests had a brief opportunity to network with one another around their interest in and support for public education in Oakland, the GO Public Schools team welcomed the group and provided updates on important organizational developments and current issue campaigns.  

Chris Maricle, from the California School Boards Association, delivered the keynote address on the Roles and Responsibilities of the Oakland School Board. Mr. Maricle discussed the basics of school governance structures, the ways in which school boards exercise their leadership, and the role of the public in electing and influencing the school board's priorities and activities. He shared that the Board has five key responsibilities - to provide direction, structure, support, accountability, and community advocacy and support to ensure a high functioning, high quality public school district. He also spoke of the attributes of effective board members: preparation, focus, mindfulness, and manner. While we elect individuals to the board, and individual board members have influence over their colleagues, the board makes decisions as a unified body. Where does the public fit into all of this? The community's role includes participating in the election process, attending meetings, and offering to help.

IMG_3154.JPGAfter the presentation, participants broke into small groups to discuss their reactions and begin brainstorming next steps. Notes from these sessions will be posted soon!

Participants left the event inspired to engage more meaningfully with school board members and make informed choices when voting for school board candidates this November. Great Oakland Public Schools is excited about the momentum coming out of the event, and is committed to being a source for relevant, quality information about the 2010 November elections! GO Public Schools is YOUR 2010 election connection!
Here's what you can do right now: 

If you want great Oakland public for them on November 2nd!

GO Public Schools presents Questions for Candidates and a July 21st presentation on TheRoles and Responsibilities of the Oakland School Board (details below).

Questions to ask your candidates for SCHOOL BOARD, CITY COUNCIL and MAYOR:
1) All candidates say they stand for good education in our schools. What specifically would you contribute to a quality education for every child in Oakland?

2) What will you do to attract and retain great teachers in every Oakland public schools?

3) What role should charter schools play for students and families in Oakland?

4) Next fiscal year the City faces a $42 millions shortfall and the school district faces a $122 million shortfall. How do you envision these two agencies work together during these hard times?

5) President Obama created the largest single Federal investment in education in history. How will you ensure Oakland students benefit from this funding?

6) What will you do to support OUSD's new Strategic plan?

7) In what specific ways will you work with OUSD Superintendent Smith and Police Chief Batts to keep our children safe?

8) What State- level practices and policies hold back the quality of our public schools and what are your plans to change them?

9) The current public school system is financially unsustainable and does not produce equitable and excellent outcomes for all students. What are your ideas for the public school system of tomorrow?

10) Where do you turn for information and ideas about how to improve Oakland public schools?

GO Public Schools and The League of Women Voters of Oakland present:
 The Roles and Responsibilities of the Oakland School Board
with Chris Maricle, California School Boards Association
RSVP Today!
Wednesday July 21
Jack London Aquatic Center
115 Embarcadero, Oakland

    * Learn what the Oakland school board's job is, and what a great school board looks like
    * Learn how to engage the school board and superintendent
    * Network with other Oakland leaders and education advocates
    * Learn about Oakland school board elections this year

Who should attend:
Teachers * Public School Employees * Parents * School Board Members * City Leaders * Candidates * Advocates * Students

 Ice cream social and refreshments begin at 5:30!
Free parking
Child care available upon request

 RSVP Today!

Great Oakland Public Schools Information Center provides leadership, education, and information to ensure that all Oakland students have access to excellent public schools in their neighborhood and throughout the city. The League of Women Voters is an organization of women and men doing the hands-on work to safeguard democracy. The League is a diverse, non-partisan, political group with a long-standing tradition of educating voters.

VOTE on NOVEMBER 2nd for:

Elections Kick-Off!

GO Public Schools and The League of Women Voters of Oakland present: The Roles and Responsibilities of the Oakland School Board, with Chris Maricle of the California School Boards Association.

RSVP Today!

Wednesday July 21
Jack London Aquatic Center
115 Embarcadero, Oakland

  • Learn what the Oakland school board's job is, and what a great school board looks like
  • Learn how to engage the school board and superintendent
  • Network with other Oakland leaders and education advocates
  • Learn about Oakland school board elections this year 

Ice Cream Social begins at 5:30!
Free parking
Child care available upon request

RSVP Today!

OUSD Strategic Direction: Thriving Students

Board of Education Strategic Retreat #4   
June 19, 2010   

On Saturday, the Board of Education unanimously approved the strategic direction for the Oakland Unified School District proposed by Superintendent Smith and his leadership team.

GO Public Schools members in attendance were excited to hear and see our city's education leadership coming together around a clear direction and vision to support Oakland's children.

While enormous fiscal, human resource, and political challenges lie ahead, our hope is that Oaklanders will stretch across lines of neighborhood, race, income-level, charter and district roles to come together in support of the Superintendent's objectives to better serve our students.

Over the next year, the district will convene 10 task forces to support the development of a five-year strategic plan to advance improvement in our public schools. By working together, Oakland will become a place of connection, care, and excellence for all of our young people. This past Saturday afternoon, at the OUSD district office at 1025 2nd Avenue, Oakland was on the move.

While it will take time to digest and understand the depth and breadth of OUSD's new strategic direction, the following are initial thoughts on the Thriving Students Framework:
Areas of alignment with GO Beliefs and Vision

Puts Children First
OUSD's Thriving Students Framework states that "educators, parents, and community partners ask themselves continuously how decisions, strategies, resources, and innovations will impact all OUSD children and in particular those who have been underserved." This aligns with GO's value that "above any other priority, stakeholder, or policy, our school system's top priority must be to increase student learning and achievement."
GO seeks equitable opportunity, resources, and outcomes for students of all backgrounds and neighborhoods. Thriving Students' emphasis on African-American male achievement and needs-based resource allocation has high potential to move our public schools closer to these goals. We expect the work of these initiatives to be broadly applicable to all undeserved/ underachieving groups.
One Oakland
GO's Beliefs and Visions are clear: "It takes a village to raise a child, and Oakland is a robust and strong village that is being underutilized. We must commit to work together to create strong and purposeful partnerships for positive change and improvement."
On Saturday, Superintendent Smith commented; "We have a linked fate, our city has to come together in support of our children and youth. OUSD will be the platform to organize the dialogue to unify Oakland for the academic and social success of our children. We must acknowledge that what we've been doing is completely inadequate; that we need to do something radically different to get fundamentally different outcomes for our children." GO could not agree more strongly.

Quality, Neighborhood Options
The proposed "Quality Community Schools Development Group" has the potential to support, hold accountable, and incubate innovative programs in alignment with GO's belief that families in every neighborhood should have quality choices about where to send their children to school. Thriving Students supports GO's vision that "Oakland should become a student-outcomes oriented center for innovation and achievement in education."

Areas of GO Beliefs and Vision that require more emphasis and discussion

Effective Teaching
GO supports Directors Gallo and Kakishiba's comments and questions about how the plan will ensure that OUSD has an effective teacher in every classroom. We agree with Director Gallo that OUSD needs to make changes to increase and differentiate support for teachers, to redesign the evaluation system to include evidence of student learning, and to increase compensation to attract and retain the best teachers for our students.

GO calls on OUSD leadership, in partnership with community and educators, to continue to explore the implications of the evidence that, among in-school factors, teacher effectiveness is the single most important factor in student learning.

Empowered School Communities
GO believes that families, teachers, principals, and students have the responsibility of making site- and community-based decisions to improve student outcomes.

GO will work with the Superintendent and Board of Education to continue to move the system toward increasing school site autonomy and flexibility regarding four key areas:
1.    People: Hiring, dismissal, job/role structures, compensation etc.
2.    Time: Schedule and calendar
3.    Program: Curricular and programmatic diversity
4.    Money: Agility with resources to meet changing and local needs

While the Thriving Students framework calls for dramatic change, it is not clear how far leaders are willing to push to change existing constraints within education code, district policy, and collective bargaining agreements to improve conditions for schools and students.

What you can expect from GO

GO will continue to help Oaklanders understand and act upon the direction set forth in the Thriving Students framework. As we understand the task force process, we will invite and encourage the GO network to participate.

GO will also continue to share and access the promising education ideas, strategies, and practices from within Oakland and around the nation through our online community and events.

Upcoming blog posts will focus on building our understanding of "full service community schools" and the efforts of other cities to improve teacher effectiveness through innovative changes to evaluation, compensation, and support practices.

GO will also invite Superintendent Smith for discussion in August about the Thriving Students framework, to learn more about how OUSD plans to partner with community on implementing this new direction, and how our network can participate in the task forces to develop the 5-year strategic plan.

GO will share comments submitted online from our network with the Board of Education and Superintendent.

Click below to add your comments on the new strategic direction: What are the plan's strengths? What weaknesses do you see? What questions do you have?

Let Oakland Voters Decide!

On Saturday, the Board of Education discussed the status of efforts to develop a parcel tax to ensure that Oakland can attract and retain the best teachers for our students.

Over the next couple weeks, Director Kakishiba will work with a firm to poll the community about the potential measure and the Board decided to schedule a special meeting after the July Fourth holiday to consider the results.

The documentation to place the measure on the November 2010 ballot must be filed by August 6. If it decides to move forward, the Board will likely meet again later in July to come to agreement about what specifically they're going to ask the voters to support.

Parcel Tax Benefits

From our understanding of the discussion, a successful measure will do four things:

  1. Increase compensation for teachers to be competitive with other local districts
  2. Include incentives for hard to staff subject areas and high need schools
  3. Benefit students and teachers at both district and charter public schools, ideally pegged to the percentage of Oakland students in both schools
  4. Increase compensation for all school employees

Our hope is that the Board is polling about scenarios that meet all of these criteria. Oaklanders will be less in interested in just improving teacher compensation.

Ultimately, we want to be sure that the measure "solves the problem" and makes us competitive to attract and retain the best teachers for our children.

How You Can Help

City and education leaders need to hear from community that we want to prioritize our children, teachers, and schools.

City and education leaders need to coordinate a shared approach to November ballot measures so that we can support our students and teachers while sustaining other essential city services.

Add your name to our petition in support of the parcel tax. Urge school board members to let Oakland voters decide whether they want to pay our teachers more. The board should not stand in the way of Oaklanders having the opportunity to vote!

Call or email our elected city and school district leaders urging them to collaborate and get this done for our children.

TOMORROW: Parcel Tax and OUSD Strategic Retreat

Tomorrow afternoon, Oakland education advocates have a critical opportunity to learn about the Board of Education and Superintendent's vision for improving our public schools and the strategic direction for OUSD.

In particular, GO members will learn more about how OUSD's strategic direction aligns with our six focus areas:

1) Effective teachers.
2) Strong leadership.
3) Individualized education.
4) Empowered school communities.
5) Choice about schools.
6) One vision. One Oakland.

In addition, the Board will discuss "whether a parcel tax election shall be called for November 2010 General Election Ballot to support the educational mission of the District."

It is critical that our network understands the Board and Superintendent's plans as we set priorities for our advocacy and work in the coming year.

OUSD posted five key documents to support tomorrow's discussion:

1) Letter from Superintendent Smith inviting the OUSD community to participate in the process

2) Building the Plan Together Part I: A one page "at-a-glance" overview of the 10 strategic areas for work and discussion during the 2010-2011 strategic planning year.

3) Building the Plan Together Part II: An eleven page overview of the proposed planning process, community engagement, workplans and outcomes for the 2010-2011 year.

4) Building the Plan Together Part III: A proposal to create task forces to lead the work within each strategic area with questions for board feedback during tomorrow's discussion.

5) Thriving Students: A 57-page narrative further detailing the strategic direction, theory of action, and plans to ready OUSD to become a full-service community district.

The retreat is scheduled for 1-4pm tomorrow in the board room at 1025 2nd Avenue.

GO Public Schools urges community to attend and participate in support of a student-centered, innovative plan for our public schools.

Teacher Parcel Tax Petition - SIGN TODAY!

Oakland education advocates must come together NOW to encourage our school board to place the teacher parcel tax on the November ballot.

  • The only way we can increase teacher salaries without cutting more jobs is a parcel tax.
  • Oaklanders should get to decide if they want our teachers to be paid more.
  • A $25 million parcel tax could translate into a 5 percent raise for all public school teachers in Oakland, with 80 percent of funds raised supporting district public school teachers and support staff.
  • A parcel tax is the single largest, most immediate, and least controversial source of revenue that can be applied to employee compensation.

Let the Board of Education know that you support a local parcel tax to increase teacher compensation. OAKLAND TEACHERS AND STUDENTS DESERVE BETTER!

Sign this petition today

Teacher Parcel Tax - TAKE ACTION TODAY!

Oakland Teachers Deserve To Be Better Compensated!

Massive funding cuts to education are currently plaguing the State of California and the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). As of the first reading of the Adopted Budget for 2010-2011 at the June 9th Board Meeting, district officials shared that the 2010-11 budget, $558 million, represents a cut of $110 million from the previous year's. This reduction includes the elimination of 505 full-time positions (or 10 percent). OUSD expects additional cuts mid-year once the State budget is approved.

The only way we can increase teacher salaries without cutting more jobs is a parcel tax.

With all of these funding cuts, one of the only ways that OUSD will be able to support its efforts to recruit, hire, and retain the highest quality teachers is by passing a parcel tax that will bring teacher compensation more on par with compensation levels found in other Bay Area districts.

On February 1, 2010, OUSD's Board Finance and Human Resources Committee considered two draft parcel tax proposals to increase teacher compensation in Oakland. While the proposals were tabled due to time constraints, the Committee agreed to consider a parcel tax proposal for the November 2010 election. In order to understand the possible public support for a November parcel tax, the Board of Education is conducting an opinion poll of likely November voters. The Board Finance and Human Resources Committee will review the results of this poll and will make a recommendation to the full board as to whether the parcel tax should be placed on the November ballot. The full board will likely meet in a special session to make a final decision before the August 6th Alameda County filing deadline.

Oaklanders should get to decide if they want our teachers to be paid more.

OUSD Board members' feelings about the parcel tax measure continue to be mixed. While some members have expressed doubts about getting enough voter support given the state of our local economy, others have shared concerns about the lack of support the Oakland Education Association has shown for a parcel tax that includes a 15 percent allocation to public charter schools. The issue of whether the tax will be a flat parcel tax or a square footage parcel tax is also still undecided.

What would a $20 - $25 million parcel tax mean for Oakland teachers? $25 million could translate into a 5 percent raise for all public school teachers in Oakland, with 80 percent of funds raised supporting district public school teachers and support staff.

For the Board of Education to place a parcel tax to increase teacher compensation on the November ballot, all stakeholder groups will need to join together around this issue.

A parcel tax is the single largest, most immediate, and least controversial source of revenue that can be applied to employee compensation.

Let the Board of Education know that you support a local parcel tax to increase teacher compensation. Email your board member today - OAKLAND TEACHERS DESERVE BETTER!

GO Photos from the Temescal Street Fair

GO Public Schools participated in this year's Temescal Street Fair! We asked community members "what makes a teacher great?" and received responses from Oakland students, teachers, parents, and community members.

Here are some photos from the day!

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Visit GO at the Temescal Street Fair!

Support Oakland's public schools! Visit the GO Public Schools table at the Temescal Street Fair, this Sunday from noon - 6pm!

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Upcoming Events

  • Monday, April 25, 2016, 5:30 PM

    OUSD Board engagement session

    The Oakland Unified School District board of education will host a community engagement meeting on Special Education, from 5:30-8 pm on Monday, April 25 at Elmhurst Community Prep/Alliance Middle Schools, 1800 98th Ave. in Oakland.This is your opportunity to listen,...

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