What’s Happening in Oakland Education? May 2022

Welcome to What’s Happening in Oakland Education?, a newsletter to keep the community informed and involved. 

Student Learning

Earlier in 2022, we released the report Gaining Ground, which looked at student literacy progress and highlighted the top 10 OUSD elementary schools that are helping Black students, Latino students, and English Learners make gains in reading (Spanish version here). To celebrate the positive growth that these schools made, our team stopped by during Teacher Appreciation Week to present certificates of achievement to each school in the top 10. Photos of teachers and staff with a highlight on which areas their students showed growth can be found on our Facebook page

Student learning is not only done in the classroom, but at home and in partnership with the families of each student. The importance of this partnership is why GO created Family Guides for students in K-5 – so parents can better understand what their children should know by the end of each grade. These guides were created in collaboration with Seek Common Ground and can be found in both English and Spanish. Click here to check out our Family Guides


School Board Elections

Oakland Unified School Board 

On May 2, Oakland Unified school board member Shanthi Gonzales released a statement notifying the public of her decision to resign from her role on the board. Gonzales highlighted some of the factors in her decision to step down from a role she held for the past 7.5 years, stating, “our core issue is that most schools are not meeting students’ academic needs.”

Gonzales mentioned ways in which the school board and teacher’s union have failed to meet these academic needs: lack of effort to take on school quality issues in a focused and consistent manner and the “way in which Oakland shows up during times of disagreement.” Diving deeper into these issues, she suggests steps the board could have taken to better focus on school quality, such as forming an Academic committee that takes a  more active role in conversions on student success. Additionally, she talks about the challenges with communication between the school board, teacher’s union, and community members, mentioning her experience receiving threats and acts of intimidation from those in opposition.

In her final words, Gonzales shared that, “We can do better to honor and respect the generosity of our residents by using our resources better, to focus relentlessly on student needs.” You can read her full resignation statement here.

With an open seat on the board, what’s next?
– The School Board will appoint a replacement to fill the vacant seat instead of hosting a special election.
– Residents of District 6 on the city’s current district map are eligible to apply for the appointment.
– The application for the open position is currently posted on the OUSD website and applicants must apply by no later than 5 p.m. on June 1st. 
– Deadline to fill the vacant seat is July. If it is not filled by then, the Alameda County Superintendent of Schools will step in and order an election.

Alameda County Office of Education

Primary elections for ACOE are here with voting-by-mail currently open and in-person elections happening on June 7th. This year, voters will choose between incumbent L.K. Monroe and challenger ​​Alysse Castro, who currently serves as the Executive Director of Court, County, and Continuation High Schools  for San Francisco Unified School District.

Decisions made by the Alameda County Office of Education directly impact Oakland schools.Check out this recent article about the  role of ACOE in Oakland public education.

COVID-19 Updates

This month, OUSD announced that masks are strongly recommended during the last week of school. The district has also extended COVID testing hours in order to accommodate community members that are unable to test during the school day.

Sites available for testing from 8am-6pm:
    – Monday and Friday – Cleveland Elementary
    – Tuesday and Thursday – Fremont High
    – Tuesday – Lockwood STEAM Academy
    – Thursday – Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary

Find more details on testing and locations here.


Updates on School Consolidations

Since the one-day teacher strike on April 29th, a collective of parents and teachers from the Justice for Oakland Students Coalition (J4OS) have filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate against OUSD, stating that the school consolidation plan violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). A Petition for Writ of Mandate is a formal document requesting that an entity perform an act or deed. In this case, J4OS is claiming that, “OUSD failed to perform the required environmental analysis to determine whether proposed school closures, which will displace Black students and families from their schools and neighborhoods, will further exacerbate the significant environmental harms to low-income Black and Brown communities which will be absorbing those displaced students.”

At this time, the school district has not yet released any information on fulfilling an environmental impact report through CEQA, an act that requires agencies to fully consider all the environmental consequences of their actions. 

To read a few frequently asked questions that we’ve answered about school closures and consolidations, check out our What’s Happening In Oakland Education newsletter from January (Spanish version here). 

We’d love to hear your thoughts on What’s Happening in Oakland Education?. Let us know what you liked and what you’d like to see in future editions.  

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