Our Oakland school board will be voting on a System of Schools policy. It begins with this declaration:
“All means all. The Board of Education no longer leaves in doubt how we will increase access to high quality schools or our role as a governing body as it relates to our school district’s system of schools. The Board of Education takes seriously our responsibility for all Oakland students, no matter if they attend a district or charter school. Given that we have oversight over all Oakland public schools we will govern in a way that ensures increasing quality, more sustainability, and effective schooling options for Oakland families.”
No other entity who has the authority to design and build a system of schools and we applaud the board’s leadership. For years, leaders of our city have debated whether OUSD was responsible for the education of all Oakland students or just the Oakland students who attend district-run schools.
As soon as the board commits to the “what” of serving all students, our Superintendent and community can begin working together to determine the best “how’s” with clarity of purpose and urgency. The OUSD board alone can make this commitment, and our city’s and students’ futures will be much brighter when they do.
For the first time in a long time, we have a homegrown superintendent with the potential and commitment to finally do whatever it takes to build the better school system for Oakland’s brighter future.
Supt. Johnson-Trammell continues to work through long-standing challenges and an inherited financial crisis. She’s also expressing the appropriate urgency to make some hard, bold commitments and decisions to start moving us towards our brighter future.
A bold and clear System of Schools policy will direct our Superintendent to lead us through the courageous and necessary work to build that brighter future for all Oakland students and families.
She’s been crystal clear in board meetings that we need to move in this direction—for the good our students and our district. This policy, if bold and clear enough, is the bright greenlight she, and we all, need to proceed with clarity and urgency.
This policy also holds a high bar for our charter public schools as partners to serve all Oakland students, especially those with the greatest need. OUSD must serve as a strong authorizer to ensure that students in charter schools are getting the quality education they deserve.
While we advocate for the System of Schools policy, we are also working with a coalition of organizations to support the charter community to ensure excellence for all students. They too must do their part to enroll and serve all students, especially those who have not been served at the same percentage as OUSD students, newcomer students, students with moderate to severe needs, and African American students. All means all. We will share more news on this front in the near future.
What Must Be True With This Policy
As this policy moves forward for vote and adoption, the following must be true:
- All means all. This policy must make clear that elected leaders have a duty to every public school student in this city.
- Quality first. Clear commitment to expanding access to quality schools first and foremost — before governance and before politics.
- Expectations of charters. Call for reciprocal policies from charters to embrace their role and responsibilities in a system of schools.
Oakland is at its best when it stands up for inclusivity and care for neighbor, particularly those most in need.
Particularly in this time in our country, we need a clear and resounding stand from our school board: In Oakland, when it comes to students and their futures, all means all.
As they prepare to take this landmark vote, let’s make sure they have our support to do the right thing – as they make this vote on Wednesday, and in all the work that will follow.
Please join us in urging the board to vote yes on this critical policy on Wednesday.