While every Oakland public school student has some shared experiences, they each have a unique education story to tell. Daisy Padilla is a fierce community advocate for Oakland’s kids and a product of the school system she works to transform. As a leader of the 1Oakland campaign, Daisy is a champion for Oakland’s public school kids.
Daisy’s experience attending both district-run and charter public schools has informed her four years at GO including her work bringing together leaders in the community to address the quality and equity gaps in our schools.
I had a chance to talk to Daisy about her story, and it’s a must-read for all of us who care about Oakland public education:
Oakland, Born and Raised
“…after realizing I was not prepared for college and what I had learned in Oakland schools did not really prepare me, I thought, I need to go back and do something about that.”
Born and raised in Oakland, Daisy attended elementary school and middle school in OUSD-run schools and attended a charter public high school, Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy. Like many families in Oakland, hers was faced with the decision of sending their child to the best possible school. Lionel was in their neighborhood, a smaller school, with cohorts of 40 students, a focus on college readiness, and she had family members that were already attending.
With support from highly-invested teachers and her own hard work, Daisy gained admission to UCLA for college. While at UCLA, Daisy was frustrated to learn that her experience in Oakland’s public school system didn’t prepare her or set her up to succeed in college.
“I thought I had a great experience as a student (in Oakland schools because I always had good grades), but at UCLA I felt like I was behind all of my peers. I didn’t feel as prepared as they were. In Oakland, I was not challenged to think critically.”
Oakland Public School Student to Community Advocate
“I realized that I need to go back and do something about that.”
After graduating from college, Daisy knew she wanted to give back to her community, “the Town”, that holds so much potential for change and success. She wants to improve the system for kids that may be experiencing the same issues she did, which ultimately stems from decades of historical inequities for communities of color. She was introduced to GO through a former teacher and was hired as an intern. After learning more about GO’s campaigns and the history and current reality of the educational system, she became passionate about systems change through policy advocacy and made the transition into community organizing and advocacy through the 1Oakland campaign.
“It was really cool to see our community organizers engage parents and see how much say and power parents really have when they have the information that will equip them with the right tools to advocate for their kids. I always think back to my parents and my mom. My dad was always working to make sure our family had what we needed and my mom just didn’t know. She was not an advocate for us at that level because as an immigrant she just thought the system has their stuff together. She never questioned it because I always got good grades.”
Through the 1Oakland campaign, Daisy empowers not just families but also teachers and community members to share their perspectives and advocate for the policies and practices that will best serve Oakland’s kids. This past March, OUSD’s school board passed the Community of Schools Citywide Plan, a comprehensive plan that holds district and charter leaders accountable to increasing quality, equity, sustainability. Over the last twenty months, leaders from GO and the 1Oakland team were informed by thousands of hours of community engagement with parents, educators, and district and charter leaders to provide recommendations for the work of the plan. The Citywide Plan that passed in March strongly reflects what the community has advocated for. “This policy is one of the first that talks about the collaboration between district and charter schools, which allows them to make strategic student-centered decisions with a focus on system-wide change,” said Daisy.
“The community members that we work with are not just advocating for their kid, they are advocating for all kids at a citywide level. They understood that this campaign is not just for your kid, it’s for every single kid.”
As we come closer to the start of the school year, it will be crucial to continue to hold OUSD and charter school leaders accountable to implement the Citywide Plan and to lift up the single measure of quality. We can do this by bringing together multiple groups across Oakland to come together and have the hard conversations required to come to the best conclusion for our kids.
“I want kids to have my experience but better… I truly believe that every kid can become whoever they want as long as they have the tools and resources that will equip and guide them through that journey. I’m here for my community, especially those kids who don’t have a voice. They’re not being heard, and I want to make sure that they are.”
Now that you’ve read Daisy’s story, come engage with her, learn more about 1Oakland’s work, and meet our newest staff members on August 29th at our Back-To-School party! Click here to RSVP.