Will your next Councilmember support Oakland schools? To find out, GO asked each of Oakland's City Council candidates to respond to the following questionnaire to get a greater understanding of where they stand on Oakland's education issues. Eight of the twelve candidates responded. You can view the responses of each responding candidate individually, or compare their answers below.
City Council Candidate Questionnaire
Click each candidate's name to reveal their response.
Oakland Unified School District has been the most improved large, urban school district in California over the last five years yet, continues to fail many of its students. Only 42 percent of high school graduates in OUSD have taken the A-G courses required to apply for a CSU or UC for college and this does not take into account the 28 percent of students who drop out in grades 9-12. We are not producing excellent outcomes for all students. What is your vision for equitable public education in Oakland and what systemic changes will you work toward to achieve that vision?
The City's charter strictly limits the role that the City may take in Oakland's educational system. However, the City must prioritize solving Oakland's high truancy rate and low graduation rates. I am committed to further developing a strong community partnership with the School District and implement real solutions that lift up our young people. We can no longer turn our backs on thousands of habitually truant students who are being failed by California's broken educational system. We can chart a new course by working together and creating a true partnership with the City of Oakland, the School District, community groups such as GO, and the business sector to build a pipeline for success that prepares our young people for college and/or careers.
To keep the doors of opportunity open, we must strengthen student retention programs and centers that effectively target our most vulnerable communities. We must have a more holistic approach to solving our most pressing challenges in our schools. There are reasons why students are truant, either their educational experience is poor and/or they have other issues at home or on the streets. Education does not start when a student walks into school and stop when they walk out. It is with them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More funding or models of wrap around services that are multi-leveled are desperately needed for the students of Oakland.
The success of a child's education draws from a number of factors: family life, community, school staff, councilors, and school environment. Schools should not be expected to fill-in for the factors that are missing. Youth are more likely to stay in school if they have opportunities that engage them. Quality youth programs that revolve around academics, sports, and social skills while maintaining a homework component will reduce truancy and crime.
I firmly believe that each child in the City of Oakland should have the opportunity to learn from the highest quality teachers in the most advanced classrooms in our state. I would be honored to work with our new superintendent, school board, administrators and teachers to build and upgrade our city's educational structure. My vision includes developing and implementing a monthly educational committee meeting between the school board and city council members, and meeting with parents, students and teachers to strategize on what isn't working and continue to improve upon what is working in district 4. I believe that the best way to solve problems and create positive outcomes is to work closely with the various groups that make up the system and utilize their feedback in creating solutions. I am convinced that with the proper motivation and tools, as well as work with state and federal educational leaders, we can change the way the system works and provide our children with the education needed to succeed in obtaining all the goals that are set for them. As a community it is time to focus our energy on the future leaders of our city and our world, the children of Oakland.
As a member of the City Council I will not have direct control over the schools as that duty rests with the school board. The best way for the City Council to help the schools is to balance the budget, improve public safety, build our neighborhoods, and provide resources for programs that support families and children. The City and OUSD have cooperated on truancy programs, and this type of collaboration should be expanded and enhanced.
I fully support quality education for Oakland children. In order for them to compete and become quality, productive citizens, we must ensure that they have access to quality education. The Oakland City Council must ensure that adequate resources are directed toward our public schools. We should work closely with the schools to identify both government and private funding for schools. As a councilperson, I will work to ensure that programs are funded and made available to schools. The City can use its resources to assist the school district as well. It is also necessary to ensure that private and other educational resources are brought into the city to develop quality education for our students.
My vision for equitable public education is that EVERY student graduates with the knowledge and skills needed for success in college and the career of their choice. Systemic changes needed for this vision include school that provide instruction and enrichment year-round, all-day; a quality teacher in every classroom, and healthy children and families.
Some immediate, realistic steps we could take towards this vision is supporting better quality teaching by ensuring adequate compensation, support and training for our teachers; increasing support for pre-school and out-of-school-time programs (after-school and summer), and combating truancy.
District 4 is fortunate to have a number of high performing schools in Oakland. In order for systemic change to occur, we must establish comprehensive public-private partnerships and collaborative across Oakland to share best practices while embracing a unified vision that ALL our students can achieve if given the proper foundation. In my work in the private sector, I participated in one such program entitled Reservation For College. This partnership with UC Davis was launched at Father Keith B. Kenny, a public elementary school in Sacramento, to ensure fourth grade students were prepared for college and offered admission after completing the program. This innovative model demonstrated that given the right support, any student can learn and thrive with rigorous and clear expectations and achieve their full potential.
My long-term vision for the well being of all our City's residents is to break the cycles of violence, addiction, and neglect that have plagued far too many households for generations. This can be achieved through community involved education combined with opportunities created through economic development. In District 4, as chairman of the neighborhood council, I have worked to connect area elementary, middle, and high school students to the community - creating hands-on experience in public art installations, community gardens, litter removal and environmental stewardship, and business. Partnerships are formed with role models and mentors becoming advocates who help students toward healthy decision making. These opportunities build a sense of ownership in the City from an early age, avoiding the alienation that leads to destructive behavior. I embrace OUSD's Thriving Students Framework and will work to build and achieve the strategic plan.
I attended great Oakland public schools from k-12, graduating from Skyline High. The experience shaped my value structure and gave me the fundamental skills for professional success and achieving results in service to my community. I taught in a basic skills program, Project Bridge, at Laney College for seven years. Many Oakland students who had dropped out of high school came to Project Bridge. I designed and facilitated a workshop series that focused on life skills - organizational skills, financial literacy, crisis management, housing and tenants rights - all needed for students to succeed in the transition to independent adulthood. These workshops could be offered at public high schools or in an after school program through the community colleges. The City must leverage its recreation centers, libraries, senior centers, and colleges to meet the needs of our public school students.
Key to the retention of students is to make sure each student finds something relevant to his or her needs and goals.
There is an elected School Board member that represents the District and the interest of the community I defer to him or her and will work to support him or her. Vocational education needs to be re-implemented back into the curriculum.
The kids today need to learn the how to's and be able to use their hands. School needs to offer challenges to all not just what a few deem necessary, not everyone is college material.
OUSD's "Options" program allows families to choose which of Oakland's public schools they would like their children to attend. Students are then assigned to schools based on their preferences and a school's available openings. What reforms, if any, would you propose for OUSD's "Options" program?
I would propose developing better educational outreach to the parents within the district. More often than not, the only students that benefit from an options program are students with parents that have access to information. This further serves to facilitate the disparities in the types of students that access the "better" schools and creates a greater divide.
In addition, it is important for Oakland families to be educated on how the process works. There may be issues of custody documentation since more and more grandparents are taking a larger role in some of our children and youth. The program should be transparent and the forms easy to understand, especially for multilingual speakers.
As the daughter of a single first generation immigrant, I know firsthand the challenges of our educational system for our immigrant communities. The positive outcomes for students and parents to choose schools from other neighborhoods should not outweigh the challenges, which include low performing schools having a harder time to recruit students and widening the educational achievement gap.
Everybody wants the best education for children. Equity in education would best be served by strengthening all schools in Oakland. This includes building the supporting components that make a school successful: an active parent group, an engaged principal, and neighborhood community that fosters relationships with the youth, and potentially a sister school in a different part of town to share learning's and improvements. Furthermore, logistics and transportation issues create opportunities for inequities. The child that has to take three buses to get to school will has a disadvantage to the child that walked three blocks to school, not to mention when social opportunities present themselves.
As a parent of a young child, I believe that I should be allowed to choose the best school for my child to attend. I know that Oakland has many wonderful schools and some schools that need improvements as well. I think that we should study the programs that make the successful schools, implementing these programs into the lower performing ones. I believe that success is driven from the top down, which means our leaders need to be intelligent, innovative and positive as well. I also believe that parents need to be encouraged to participate and support the schools that their children attend and should also have the opportunity to provide input in the process.
As a member of the City Council I would not be able to make any changes in the program as that authority rests with the school board. I would encourage the school board to engage the community in a discussion how this program could best be reformed.
After speaking with several parents in the District, it appears that the option program is working to allow students choice to schools.
I like Oakland's system, where families are encouraged and virtually guaranteed a spot at their neighborhood school. Neighborhood schools build community; my children will be attending their neighborhood public school. But until every school in Oakland is performing at an excellent level, the options process works. The Options process engages parents in thinking about school quality and presents an opportunity for parents to become more knowledgeable and engaged in school quality issues. We need to do better at making ALL families and care takers aware of the system.
Empowering parents with the choice of where they will send their students is invaluable. We have to make sure equity exists at all levels of the process, and ensure that low performing schools are given the critical tools to address challenges and encouraged to succeed.
We need first to ensure that the local school meets the needs of most of the local students. Working hard to increase parent involvement in the local school will help achieve this goal. That will make the local school the preferred option or most students.
Meeting specialized needs at other, nearby schools can provide a useful, efficient supplement. Rather than creating competition and selection discrepancies for the specialized or preferred schools, I would like to see all students have access to the specialized instruction offered by OUSD. Underserved schools can be bolstered by outside programming while working to bring performance up to standard. We can prepare students for career and living wage jobs out of high school. Improved integration with the Peralta campuses will allow access to the trades courses, technology and construction facilities that can easily transition a student to a business internship, the Cyprus/Mandela apprenticeship programs or into journeyman work.
OUSD campuses can partner in the same way. Students from other Oakland campuses can access unique facilities or programming as an extension of their home school or on an interim basis. This can be tied into Superintendent Smith's "neighborhood schools" concept, supported in part by Federal Neighborhood Block Grants.
The Options program makes it difficult to lower facilities costs when schools are loosing students to preferred campuses. As Councilman I would work to pull in community and City resources to strengthen campuses most in need.
In a number of cases we have seen active parents dramatically improve the ranking of a school. Parents can help set performance standards, lobbying, or raising funds for facilities upgrades, or increasing the number of adults in the classroom. As Founder and Chair of one of Oakland's 55 Crime Prevention Councils I pulled a diverse array of residents into public service by working to frame volunteer roles, making it easy for someone to commit their talent or the appropriate amount of time. This serves as a model to other schools in District 4 and the entire City.
There is an elected School Board member for the District and the community and I defer to them.
What role should charter public schools play for students and families in Oakland?
Conducted properly and with strict evaluation standards, charter schools have the potential to be an effective contribution to the school system. Unfortunately, with the current process, people may take advantage of the charter school system and mismanagement may occur. The role that charter public schools play should be to provide targeted, issue oriented education for students in our school system. For example, charter schools that provide a focus on the arts or one that focuses on a science based education. They can serve as a lab where communities can determine what works for them. Charter schools should not replace traditional public schools, but should supplement them and provide additional opportunities for students and parents to choose a specialized education.
Nationwide, studies on charter schools have had mixed results. In some instances they work extremely well, and in others, they do not solve the inherent challenges within our educational system. It also provides a situation where limited funds ultimately end up being pulled away from traditionally funded public schools, but it's not a black and white issue. At this point, we should ensure there are rigorous evaluations for charter schools and promote the schools that are doing well while still focusing on improving our traditional public education system.
One of the reasons that charters exist is because of the short comings of public schools. Having options is always good however; strengthening our current schools will alleviate much of the controversy surrounding charter schools. Charters can also be selective in who they want as students...there can be some equity lacking.
Charter public schools should be welcomed in our city as I know they are also trying to help educate and prepare our children for their future endeavors. We as parents, educators and elected officials should implement and support each and every positive aspect of any program that we can find. We should not limit or deter any program or system that has a proven track record of positive results in any way.
Charter schools are one of the options that should be available to students and families in Oakland.
Charter schools are legal in CA and play an important role to education. The school district and state must be diligent and oversee performances and expenditures of public funds. I will work with the local school board and state representatives to ensure Oakland has equitable education opportunities, funding and resources. I will speak with parents who have children in the Oakland School District, the school administration, teachers and the board members.
Charters are providing another option for Oakland families and are predominantly serving families whose neighborhood schools are low-performing. They need to be held to high accountability standards. Demonizing charters, which is somewhat popular in Oakland, is holding us back and keeping us from realizing the best outcomes for our kids. Oakland's charters are each unique, thus difficult to understand as a "system." Many are organic, stand-alone schools started by families in the community. The promise of Charters is that they will provide lessons to be applied to the public school system to make it better -- they should be a means to this end. The District should improve the connection between charters and the district. Charters should do more to share best practices and support neighboring public schools and the district as a whole. The District should do more to support Charters with facilities and, maybe even including them as part of the Options Process. Roughly 17% of our children attend Charters - a number that has steadily increased over time. These children deserve our attention and support.
Charter schools present interesting choices for our communities, especially dependent charter schools. We must preserve the spirit of partnership and allow parents to identify the best environments for their children to succeed, while maintaining the vision and expectations set forward for all students within Oakland.
By emphasizing and introducing non-traditional methods, charter public schools can be useful for discovering best practices. In Oakland charter public schools provide unique options to families. They should be an opportunity to experiment with different models for serving the needs of Oakland's diverse student population, which, when successful and transferable, should be brought into the regular public schools.
Both charter and regular public schools must be held to the same high standards and same level of accountability. If they have successful specialized programs or facilities, these should be made available to other OUSD students either on off hours/days or through training programs. If they are able to offer specialized instruction or facilities, these resources can be made available to other OUSD students. I object to any school that can hand pick the student body and I want us to look at how we can see classrooms in charter schools more closely reflect the make up of the OUSD population. This will allow charters to have a stronger connection to their local community
That is up to the Community and the school board member.
What State-level practices and policies hold back the quality of our public schools and what are your plans to change them?
Public schools are funded by the state budget, yet our current state budget is in a crisis. As a community organizer and policy advocate, I have worked to increase state support for our public educational system. First, the 2/3rds requirement for budget approval and raising revenue is not sustainable. In addition, we must repeal/reform Prop 13 which has drastically affected our state budget. Furthermore, we need accountability for the funds that do get allocated to our education system.
It is often the schools that are the first to be cut, with teachers getting laid off, classroom sizes unmanageable and the quality of education decreasing because of these constraints. As a public policy concern, the proper education of the youth in our state will have long term benefits and decrease costs on society in the long run. It is imperative that we act as advocates to our state government leaders so that we can improve our public educational system. As an elected official, I would strongly advocate on behalf of our schools, teachers, and students for better practices and policies that improve our public schools. I would also aggressively work to build strong partnerships and coalitions to bring the community and colleagues on board for a common agenda to fix our educational system.
The way schools are funded via the system of Average Dailey Attendance is a major hindrance. Schools need to have income streams that they can count on. Pulling money from schools budgets also inhibits the fiscal functionality of schools. Other state-level practices that hold back the quality are: underfunding our public education and certain facets of the Education Code which specifically look to bump rights for support staff. This does not help build a cohesive community, something vital to raising stable children and support families. The bottom line is that schools need to be better funded at the state level. As a council person I could reach and collaborate with the school board and lobby for change at the state level. On a local level, grants can be sought out to bolster specific programs.
The State spending to California's urban schools is restrictive and conditional. Unfortunately, the state and city government are experiencing tough financial times. With that being said, I know that our state and city can find solutions and financial support in private business and corporate donations. Oakland needs to work close with California as a whole to create and execute financial plans while finding creative sources of funding.
I will work with the OUSD school board and members of the community to change State-level practices and policies that negatively impact our schools. We need to get back complete control of the school district from the State.
I will work with our local school officials.
The manner in which California funds education is deficient in many ways. Inadequate levels of funding for education, tying funding to attendance rather than enrollment and radically changing school budgets every year at the last minute are three practices and policies I will advocate to change. I'd like to partner with experts to lobby and advocate for these and other changes. Strengthening public education has always been my personal passion. As a Council Member, my advocacy efforts could be even more effective.
Diminishing state resources make it difficult for public school districts, especially diverse districts such as Oakland. My experience as a legislative advocate will be an asset in navigating the complex regulatory and legislative environment in Sacramento.
The state of California is now almost at the very bottom in per pupil spending and here in the Bay Area we have one of the highest costs of living in the country. Given 80% of the funds for running Oakland public schools come from the State of California, the most important change would be in how our schools are funded, and working to increase our funding. Together with my colleagues and education leaders, I will strongly advocate for a change in our funding priorities. The future of our community here in Oakland is integrally dependent on students graduating from our public schools with the knowledge and tools to be successful in life and a commitment to civic participation. I will advocate for a more complete assessment of student and school performance, not just an academic test score.
After state control of OUSD ended this past year the District was made responsible for more than three times the debt level it had prior to the state stepping in. This is unacceptable and I will fight to make the state accountable for the overruns made during their control. Taking tax revenue from the City has drastically impacted Oakland's ability to maintain core services. The state needs to reverse this policy or we need to find a way to hold on to those funds.
I would have a grant writer on my Council staff to help individuals, community groups, and the schools attract funding for projects at various levels, helping leverage state matching funds, and other public-private grants.
Not my area of expertise but that of the elected School Board member.
Where do you turn for information and ideas about how to improve Oakland public schools?
I turn to the talented people of Oakland. This includes the staff of OUSD, education organizing and policy advocacy groups, and families here in Oakland that all have input on how our schools should be improved. We must have an inclusive community based approach to improving Oakland public schools OUSD, community based education advocacy groups, education policy leaders, teachers on the ground and the parents that see the benefits of the public school system with their children.
I would also emphasize the importance of listening to our students. I was asked to train a group of young women on the importance of organizing and advocating on the issues that directly impact our lives and we had a very open conversation about their classroom experience. From the teacher that continually played a movie as their lecture to the teacher who consistently yelled at the class rather than providing a positive learning environment, their concerns are valid and important.
There is a wealth of knowledge within our communities and we have the tools to improve our public schools. We must work together in these challenging times to plan a bold vision and most importantly, implement a plan that will be successful for all.
One of the advantages of living in Oakland is the incredible diverse population and diversity of ideas. In Oakland, we are surrounded by people from all over the world. While, the issues we face today may be new to us, they are not unique. People bring a variety of ideas and solutions to the table. Continual community outreach is a very important for obtaining fresh ideas. Bringing all stakeholders to the table will ensure all ideas and potential solutions are explored.
We are also fortunate enough to live in a community that has an abundance of experts in education. We are surrounded by several prestigious universities: UC Berkeley, Stanford, St. Mary's College, and Mills College to name a few.
I turn to the teachers, parents, and students first and foremost. I have and will continue to communicate with and study any and every source of information that will help improve our schools. I graduated from a public high school in another state, but I know that as I had the chance to earn my education, each child in Oakland should also be afforded this opportunity. I will work with every resource available to help create the best school system for our children.
I would first turn to members of the school board, particularly Chris Dobbins who has endorsed my candidacy, the District 4 school board member, along with parents, teachers, and members of the community who care so deeply about our schools.
Parents, teachers, and administrators
I was one of the earliest subscribers to the GO Public Schools Information Center and am in constant contact with GO founders and staff. For years I have read and/or subscribed to EdVoice and EdSource websites. I have kept abreast of local education issues through my service on the Boards of Directors or Advisory Boards of several local educational non-profits, including Mocha (Museum of Children's Art), Lighthouse Community Charter School, Oakland Education Partners, East Bay Agency for Children and Oakland Schools Foundation. Fifteen years ago, I quit my job as an attorney at Oakland's largest law first to build and run a centralized volunteer program for the Oakland Unified School District at the Marcus Foster Educational Institute. During those three years, I came to know many of OUSD's administrators and school site personal, as our program grew to serve all 90 public schools at that time. I personally volunteered every week in a classroom for four years. I gained deep insights through these experiences and still maintain many relationships with these dedicated educators today, which continue to inform my ideas about improving Oakland public schools.
I listen to all stakeholders to understand the issue. I will use my private sector experience to propose solutions and potential alternatives.
In addition to having discussed OUSD among colleagues at Laney College, I have a strong working relationship with many teachers, and involved parents, including PTSA leaders and volunteers from Sequoia Elementary, Glenview Elementary, Bret Harte Middle, and Skyline High. I've run our Community NCPC meetings at Sequoia Elementary, I have attended PTA meetings and I watch school Board meetings to keep appraised of current issues, and I have read the strategic plan as proposed by Superintendent Smith. I use social media, blogs, and the good old newspaper to gain access to statistics and positions such as those provided by GO Public Schools.
If I did I would turn to the community and the parents...However that is the job of the elected school board member and I would support him or her.
What will you do to ensure there is an effective, qualified teacher in every OUSD classroom?
The most important way we can ensure that the students of our city are well educated is by making sure there are qualified teachers in every classroom. We must prepare to help build our city and bring it into the 21st century through effective teacher training programs and providing a teaching experience that is beneficial to both the student and the teacher. After being hired as teacher, we must develop benchmark measures of success that is not based on "teaching to the test" but rather teaching in a holistic manner. It is also important to recognize the differences between the teachers that are just beginning their careers and those that have an extensive career history within our community. As a City Councilmember, I will work with GO to ensure that Oakland teachers are well supported as well as evaluated.
Furthermore, we must develop a stronger partnership between the City of Oakland and OUSD to build an effective pipeline for teacher success which includes recruiting the best teachers from Oakland or recruit them to come to Oakland. The New Teacher Support & Development Center, a partnership with the Mayor's Office and OUSD to recruit Oakland residents as teachers can be expanded and include a vision for every district for the City of Oakland. A better allocation of public dollars produces multiple benefits - more effective teachers who come from the community, jobs for local residents making them taxpayers, greater stability of teaching force, and ultimately, more youth engaged in constructive activities.
• I will partner with school board representative and the principals to make sure that state standards are being met.
• Partner with university education programs to attract new teachers, boost salaries to make us competitive with other districts, support school administrators who then support teachers, strengthen BTSA (new teacher support) programs etc. (More people change jobs due to a feeling of lack of help and support than salary).
• Increase professional development opportunities.
I believe that the OUSD has excellent teachers and I will support them and the programs and subjects that they teach to our children. I will make every effort to ensure that every child in Oakland is provided with a qualified and caring teacher to guide them in their studies. I would like to see school supply drives twice a year and book drives once a year, so that teachers and students have the tools necessary to give their children. I would visit with school teachers during the day or after school to find out what their needs are and what motivates them to be in that profession. We must maintain the highest standards for our educators as we trust them to watch over and provide a positive, stable environment throughout the school day.
I will support the school board by enacting City policies that will make it easier for teachers to live in Oakland. Teachers should be a part of the community and programs to assist with home purchases and housing would be a good place to start.
I will work with the District to ensure that they have adequate funds to pay for quality teachers.
While the City Council has no jurisdiction over the public schools, there is much it can do to support Oakland teachers. I would use my bully pulpit to support the District's policies and practices to ensure there is an effective, qualified teacher in every OUSD classroom. I will work to promote and expand the Teacher's First Time Home Buyer Program and try to develop an affordable rental project for teachers. I will continue to work with Oakland Community Organizations in their work around schools - an amazing organization I've worked closely with for fifteen years. I would work to identify private resources that might support teacher programs like subsidizing Mentor Teacher Positions or create signing bonus for hard-to-recruit disciplines like math or science - similar to what other cities like Chattanooga, TN have done. I'd work with the schools in my district to ensure that teachers feel safe and have adequate parking. I'd direct city resources towards combating truancy. I'd propose a Fiscal Policy, modeled on San Francisco's, that allows the City to provide any surplus funds to the school district in a year where it experiences a deficit. I'd also like to see a Centralized School Volunteer Program, like the one I built and ran in 1995, return to Oakland.
Every Oakland student deserves a qualified teacher, and it is our responsibility to ensure this happens. We must attract qualified and committed teachers that respect and understand their impact on students. Competitive salaries, a rewarding work environment and professional development opportunities are important elements to attract qualified teachers.
My professional background in Business Management Consulting is tied to Organizational Design, and Human Performance Improvement, delivered through training courses, online instruments, or one-on-one mentoring partnerships. I have spoken with many excellent city employees, Oakland school teachers, and principals, all have expressed concern about the difficulty of dealing with ineffective staff or management. We need to involve teachers in the process of implementing best practices and measuring performance.
I have worked for clients that are multi-national companies, departments of the Federal Government, as well as Oakland based businesses, helping to implement clear and measurable performance expectations. Training is effective when the desired behavior or outcomes are demonstrated. Performance evaluations need to be consistent.
I support Measure L to get teachers equipped for the changing demands of the curriculum. The City can help attract and retain high quality teachers by establishing incentives beyond salary, such as low interest or subsidized loans to allow our teachers to live in Oakland. I would push for increased social service support to address the issues our young people face at home or in the community, allowing teachers to better deliver the curriculum.
That is the job of the School board and OUSD's Superintendent.
Do you support the November 2010 Parcel Tax (Measure L - Oakland Student Achievement, Support and Safety Measure) to increase compensation for Oakland's teachers? Please explain.
Yes, we need strong teachers in the classroom to educate the next generation of Oaklanders.
Yes I do. As a parent of a child in OUSD and a second to join her next year I understand firsthand the problems. We need to increase teacher's salaries to stay competitive with other districts that pay higher and do not face as many organizational challenges.
I would support a measure to increase teachers' salaries, as long as it is closely watched and maintained to provide an increase to salaries of teachers and only teachers. Taxpayers should not be required to support increases in administrative costs or salaries which remain a hot button issue in these discussions.
Of all the tax measures on the ballot this November, this is the most deserving of passage. Teachers in Oakland are paid less than those in other area school districts and we must increase salaries to stay competitive. My concern is that the total package of measures represents a very regressive form of taxation. I have a neighbor whose taxes would increase by over 50 percent if all the measures passed. For retired people on fixed incomes the costs of these measures could be beyond their means. As a City Council member I would have pushed for better coordination between OUSD and the school to craft ballot measures that would have had a realistic chance of being approved.
At this point no. with unemployment at 18% in Oakland and high foreclosures, it is not practical.
Yes. I supported the similar Measure NN two years ago and even had my op-ed published in the San Francisco Business Times in support of this tax to raise teacher compensation. Starting Oakland teachers are paid significantly less than their counterparts in the region. While I agree that Oakland home owners pay an inordinate amount of taxes, there is no better investment we can make than in the people we've entrusted to give our children the tools for a successful future.
I will access my network and leverage my relationships at every level of government to build strengthen coalitions. I demonstrated this level of advocacy as an executive on issues ranging from K-12 education, energy, housing and job training/workforce development.
Yes. I want to see teachers equipped with twenty-first century methodology, able to understand modern technology applications and bring students up to speed on the use of digital media, web design, entrepreneurial skills, and problem solving. Technology applications are the new trades, employable skills that, when supplemented with intern opportunities and specific college courses, can offer a living wage at an early age.
In order to address the environmental and social stressors many of our young people face, teachers need to be trained to recognize and refer crisis, handle inappropriate behavior, and support the student's priority for their basic needs to be met. Continuous education, adding new skill sets and adaptive traits are part of modern pedagogy.
President Obama is making the largest single Federal investment in education in history via competitive and formula grants. How will you ensure Oakland students benefit from this funding?
Previously, I worked in Washington D.C. managing a national nonprofit that organized and advocated on behalf of students. I understand the intricacies of the Department of Education and Congress and will aggressively build relationships to secure federal funds for Oakland. I will also advocate for federal "Promise Neighborhoods" funding for Oakland communities.
• Embark on an aggressive campaign to find identity areas that are eligible for grants.
• We should assemble an excellent grant writing team to go after those grants
• Work with school board to position ourselves to receive maximum benefits.
It is important for the OUSD to maintain the highest standards for teachers, students and administrative staff. We must work closely with the OUSD as elected officials to guide and support all programs needed to qualify for any and all federal funding. City Council should be working on and sending resolutions to our House and Senate representatives to fight for that funding in Oakland.
Lobby at the federal level to ensure Oakland receives a fair share of the resources.
Work with the district and provide them with any support they need to obtain their grants.
First, I will advocate for resources like this. Oakland can't afford to pass up funding opportunities like this, which is why I found it unfortunate that Oakland's Mayor Dellums was the only big-city Mayor in California who didn't sign onto this program. I'm interested in exploring whether the school district and city could combine our state and federal lobbying contracts - potentially making us a more unified and powerful lobbying force in Sacramento and Washington D.C.
I will build coalitions along all levels of government to make sure Oakland is not left out of the exciting new developments in funding. Previously, as an executive I demonstrated my commitment to public schools by advocating on behalf of k-12 education.
Oakland needs to clearly demonstrate the need for these federal dollars and have the structures in place to ensure the funds are used to the best ability. I will make sure my council staff is available to the school board to assist in reaching their goals. I have worked on a multi-phase streetscape project in the District that garnered a competitive award. I will help frame our needs to clearly articulate the value of the federal award. I will work closely with Superintendent Smith to show OUSD is a preferred department for federal investment. I will draw in my contacts in the federal government to help advocate on our behalf.
I would hope that the School Board, Schools Principals, parents and the Superintendent would get on this and make it happen.
Are there other cities you would look to as models of city-schools partnership and why?
Harlem Children's' Zone is an incredibly successful model and is what "Promise Neighborhoods" is premised on. Their success is greatly attributed to private entities that have invested in the community and we must have the same public-private partnerships with the City and the schools.
There are also successful models around the state and country that we should turn to for case studies and policy solutions. In San Francisco, they have many interesting schools with different approaches that have gained national attention. This includes Visitacion Valley Middle School which is rich in ethnicity and culture and known nationally for its innovative programs, including implementing concrete solutions to curb violence on campus. Furthermore, the San Francisco School Board recently passed a city wide restorative justice program that ensures young people are on a path to success rather than getting lost in our educational system.
I would look to New York for their consistent desire to model programs based on the student populous and truancy rates. There are similarities both culturally and socio-economically. Oakland might be able to borrow some of their novel practices including assigning mentors at a ratio of 15:1.
Chicago and New York City seem to be the emerging educational cities in the United States that I am aware of that have model city-school partnerships. In Chicago, teachers are trained from high school to the time they become first year teachers to teach education and are provided housing through their city's teaching program. New York City, specifically in Harlem, is nationally known for providing utmost talented teachers working with children from poor socio-economic backgrounds. I would be interested to see how other most successful and most advanced school districts operate. I believe that learning from other successful operations can only help to promote success here in Oakland. I believe that modeling our programs and techniques after the ones that have already worked can save a lot of time and energy. It is important to focus on our children, not on the politics behind the scenes.
I would undertake an evaluation of city-school partnerships to see what models are most effective and try to model an Oakland system on those examples.
San Francisco has a healthy interaction between city/county officials and the school district. They do a very good job of identifying and delivering private resources to assist the schools.
I have spent time researching what other cities have done to better support their school district. Some examples I found included San Jose under Ron Gonzales, Chatanooga, TN and the Harlem Children's Zone in New York. I oppose Mayoral control over the School District. I do support a closer partnership where the City works to support the Whole Child and their Families and help schools serve as Community Resource Centers.
I would look to New York, which has done an excellent job of committing to innovative techniques and curriculums, and examining and evaluating their progress at every step of development.
We can look right next door to Berkeley. Parents are "required" to volunteer, lending support to the school in a capacity that favors both parties.
I have worked to pull together and share best practices as a way to expedite neighborhood priorities and leverage precious resources. Examining schools from Harlem to Stavanger will move Oakland quickly toward a fully collaborative approach to community involved education.
I would not but would support the outreach by the school board member of my district.
OUSD has just released a new strategic framework called "Thriving Students" in which City Government plays a significant role. How will you make the City a partner in the implementation of "Thriving Students"? What role can City agencies play in developing the Promise Neighborhoods envisioned within OUSD's new "Thriving Students" strategic framework?
This is a wonderful example of the importance and potential of a strong partnership between the City of Oakland and OUSD. I would be proud to champion the work of "Thriving Students" on behalf of the City and not only serve District 2, but every school and student in Oakland. There is also potential to partner with the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth and develop a comprehensive approach for the future. It is also essential to provide mediation with community groups and different neighborhoods to make sure we are not fighting over the same piece of pie, but rather, working together for the long term success of every student and school in Oakland.
Making sure that the priorities of OUSD, such as safe, healthy schools, effective instruction, and college and career readiness are met. I will lead the vision of a healthy, connected, sustainable city and schools. And finally, work with the School Board in strategy and direction to support OUSD's mission and student population.
It is time for Oakland and the OUSD to work together to provide the best possible school environment and education for the youth of our city. As a parent and someone who had directly worked with at-risk youth, I believe that I can help in this process. I believe that City Council should have committee meetings setup like the meetings of the OUSD Intergovernmental Board. Currently, City Council has a Life Enrichment Committee, but it isn't utilized as well to directly deal with educational issues impacting Oakland's students. I believe that it's time for all of us to step up and work on these issues together and make them our priority.
We need to reinvigorate the Education Partnership Committee, have it meet on a regular basis, and move the meetings to a time that will enhance public participation. Alameda County could be added to the Committee to enhance the collaboration between all agencies with a stake in Oakland schools.
I support the goals of thriving students. As councilperson, I will work with the district to ensure schools are safe and the resources to fulfill the goal of providing quality education. I will work with the district to implement the goals of the program by securing funding, use of city and private resources.
Dr. Smith's vision of a Full Service Community District will require significant coordinator from the City of Oakland and other agencies. I find this vision exciting and will put my full energy into supporting it. Since the beginning of my campaign, I have been talking about better coordination between the City and Schools, particularly in the areas of facility maintenance, recreations facilities and libraries. It was exciting to see those very same ideas called out in the Thriving Students plan.
City agencies can provide a place for collaborative dialogue around the Promise Neighborhoods. Leveraging resources, identifying mutual outcomes and jointly defining criteria will aid partnership and the recognition that we are all working toward a similar goal, thriving communities, where we share and allocating resources effectively.
The key to the OUSD strategic framework is a community service school that brings together resources to serve the needs of the whole child. I will ensure at the local level public resources are well coordinated to best serve our children. We can improve efficiency and provide better services through sharing facilities and coordinating programs. City agencies can also provide support so neighborhoods can better leverage the resources in their area, whether volunteers, local businesses, or non-profits. Promise Neighborhoods on the Harlem Children's Zone scale require large financial and human resources. The City, together with the school district, can present comprehensive and realistic plans to potential public and private funders, generating enthusiasm and confidence in the strategic plan.
The City can continue to clean up the blight, reduce the criminal activity and encourage community groups to partner with the local schools in their neighborhoods. Having read the draft...I as a Council Person can support the intent. Until Oakland gets crime under control, become business friendly which means jobs, and population control is taken seriously all the manuals in the world will not change the fact that education and quality of life are important but so is survival of the planet. Schools need to bring back vocational education and teach the kids how to use their hands and not just the computer. College is not for everyone and the jobs are not there! But I can support the concept of this question.
How do you plan to support public schools and public school students in your District?
I plan to have a strong relationship with the schools, teachers, students, and families in District 2. This is the foundation of the future of Oakland and I will help secure resources and partnerships to build a successful educational system in our neighborhoods. I am also committed to working with District 2's OUSD Board Member to host joint town halls, health and education forums, and collectively bringing resources to our community.
When I talk to parents and students in the district, I hear of collective concerns regarding public safety, jobs, and housing. There is a direct correlation between the success of our students and schools to the services the City of Oakland should be providing for our families. As the first member of my family to graduate from a university, I understand the challenges our families endure and I will continue to be a passionate advocate on behalf of our public schools and students. As your City Councilmember, I am committed to working day and night for the future of Oakland.
Attend PTA meetings when necessary, support fundraising efforts, stay in contact with Principals, possibly holding a quarterly meeting with all stakeholders in the District.
I plan to work closely with everyone involved in our public school and the unlimited possibilities that OUSD has in front of them. I will setup meetings and follow up with everyone that would like to share their input on how and what we need to do to improve our school system. We must all work together to raise the most important pieces of our city, our students, and keep them focused and motivated to achieve our highest goals. Most important of all I will do my best to provide the children of Oakland a first class educational opportunity.
Balancing the City budget and providing meaningful public safety to residents of Oakland is the most important way the City Council can support public schools and students.
I will work closely with the district representative to ensure that District 4 schools provide quality education. My office will identify numerous programs that will assist our students, such as recognizing student achievements, teacher excellence and school quality. I will introduce a student volunteer program in which students can get exposure to real world experiences through volunteering for numerous organizations in which they have interest. I will work with the district representative to ensure that our schools have the resources to provide extra curricular and after school activities to enhance the quality of education. I will work to ensure that adult/parent volunteers can donate their skills, energy and resources to improve the quality of our schools.
I have already told Gary Yee that I look forward to being a supportive partner to him, or whomever is the District 4 School Board Member, including offering access to my policy staff. I will also be responsive to parents in helping address their problems, and never just say "I can't help with that; call the school district." I will stay engaged in funding decisions by the Oakland Fund for Children and Youth and Measure Y to ensure they are coordinated with and supportive of the public schools in my district. I will continue to stay active with the educational non-profits I'm currently involved with, particularly the Oakland Schools Foundation, which is bringing significant private resources and support to Oakland public schools serving low-income students.
I will partner with the OUSD and make educating all students a priority.
I will work to achieve active community involvement in education. This includes connecting city resources, and pulling in the incredible non-profits, community groups, small businesses and our corporate connections to partner in opening up the classroom, to create hands-on curriculum that ties to the lessons inside the classroom.
Public schools offer public space for our community. The City can take on some responsibility for maintenance to allow access to the play-space or facilities after hours and on weekends. I will use Paygo funds when needed to make structural improvements and grow the facilities.
I will connect young people to mentors in the community. I agree with Chief Batts and Superintendent Smith, who emphasize that we embrace our children, especially those at risk. We have incredible role models throughout the District. Through ongoing volunteer projects, engaged businesses and community groups, we must support opportunities for young people to invest time in, and take ownership of, their City. I have the tools to design formal, objective-based programs that can be evaluated on a quantifiable basis. I'm also open to working with schools and successful programs that already exist to help them increase their community participation, groups like Girls, Inc. & Brothers on the Rise.
I will look at the City's infrastructure to ensure students have safe access to and from school, and that supporting facilities are made accessible. Public transportation will be closely monitored to ensure safe travel. Police will connect with the teachers and counselors to see that student lives are guarded, streets are policed, and unstable home environments are improved.
52% of Proficient & Advanced Students leave OUSD between 5th & 6th Grades. This drains the school of resources, and lowers the grades and graduation rates. I will work to ensure students performing at or above level have new challenges, inside and outside the classroom.
My role will be as an advocate, a facilitator, and a partner in ensuring the highest quality education and student success at all levels of Oakland public schools.
Support my community, improve the quality of life, and back the School Board member.
Sunday, March 22, 2015, 2:00 PM
Elementary student finals of the oratorical festival.
Sunday, March 22, 2015, 6:00 PM
Middle and high school student finals of the oratorical festival.
Friday, March 27, 2015, 1:54 PM
Educators from South Africa will share LEAP Schools' innovative life orientation model.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015, 1:53 PM
Come hear Ruth Alahydoian, OUSD's new Chief Financial Officer, speak on how the district developed local priorities for the coming school year.