December 6, 2014
Superintendent Wilson presented “Pathway to Excellence,” the district’s updated strategic plan for 2015- 2020, at the most recent OUSD Board meeting. Hundreds of Oakland teachers and parents came to listen and voice their perspectives.
The plan was adopted unanimously by the Board. It builds on Oakland’s strengths and the policy and program innovations our schools have made in recent years. And it emphasizes the need to raise teacher salaries, value them as leaders, and invest in their development. As one longtime community activist commented, “You have seen us. This plan addresses who we really are.”
The room was silent during the superintendent’s presentation, which culminated months of talking to teachers, parents, students, and other community members. We posted a video of his presentation and it is well worth watching.
She talked about coming to Oakland as a non-English speaking immigrant. She said, ‘My kids had nice teachers but not always the best teachers. I wanted more for my kids. When I saw the data about the flatland schools in the neighborhood where I live, it felt like a slap in the face. I committed myself to work hard to make changes, to partner with the school district, to help build a structure that would overcome challenges and help organize parents. Soon I was in a position to build relationships with teachers and help them help my children. From Manzanita SEED, my kids were fortunate enough to go to ASCEND. But seeing the kids who were left behind was terrible…Today I’m working in high schools, helping others learn how to listen to parents’ voices and how to raise the expectations that are too low for high school seniors.’
Throughout the city there are parents like this one, and teachers, and volunteers, ready to stand together to realize the promise of our schools. If we can work together to seize this opportunity, the futures of many Oakland students and families will be brighter, and that will lift our whole city.
Today, when the whole country is focused on the need for justice for young men of color, we need to look at our school system through the lens of equity and racial justice. Superintendent Wilson recently released a letter reflecting on Ferguson, writing that, “For more than 60 years, Oakland has been a trailblazer in issues of equity and empowerment and the center of some of the country’s most powerful social movements. We are standard-bearers. No place is better suited for the fight to support children.” It is this sense of the true potential for greatness in Oakland and all its children that is so inspiring and urgent about the work ahead.
We will be reporting on aspects of and reactions to the updated plan over the coming months. Meanwhile we want to hear from you! GO is gathering feedback from the public on the Superintendent’s new plan.