GO Public Schools Oakland is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that informs, advocates, and cultivates leadership within the Oakland community so that all our students have the opportunity to attend quality public schools.
The families, educators, and community leaders of GO Public Schools Oakland believe that every child has a right to a quality education and everyone has a responsibility to help provide it. At a time when the overwhelming majority of family-wage jobs require post-secondary education, less than two-thirds of Oakland’s students graduate from high school. Barely half of our African-American and Latino students finish high school on time, and the average African-American and Latino twelfth grader reads and does math at the level of white eighth graders. This is morally unacceptable and economically untenable.
Additionally, GO Public Schools Oakland has a sister organization, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit social welfare organization – GO Public Schools Oakland Advocates – that connects and activates an informed community network to advance policies that ensure all Oakland students have the opportunity to attend quality public schools. GO Public Schools Oakland Advocates, a 501(c)(4), among many programs, also engages in in partisan political activity such as school board elections.
Based on two key events during the 2008-2009 school year, a group of families, educators, and community members began building GO Public Schools Oakland to ensure that our community had information and opportunities to shape decisions about our public schools and hold leaders accountable.
First, in September 2008, the leadership of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) presented a plan suggesting that the school board close 10-17 small schools with little regard to school performance. Community and school leaders organized parents, teachers, students, and principals to talk to school board members about the positive impact these small schools were having on increasing student achievement in Oakland schools. In response to this organizing, the board decided not to close schools based only on size, and, instead, to organize citywide community engagement about the future of at-risk school communities.
Second, in January 2009, the Interim Superintendent announced a plan to pass nearly 100 percent of a $17 million midyear budget cut on to school sites. Parents, teachers, and community requested copies of the central office budgets and recommended more than $17 million of cuts to the central office that they would make prior to cutting programs and services directly serving children at schools. These recommendations were presented to the school board who directed the Interim Superintendent to keep cuts as far from classrooms as possible. In the end, 75 percent of the 2009 midyear budget cut were made in the central offices.
These two experiences of network success led us to create an organization that would continue to provide information and advocacy to ensure great schools for all Oakland children.
As a foundation for GO, during the spring of 2009, our network of families and educators drafted a founding vision statement that we called our Declaration of Community Beliefs and Visions for Oakland Public Schools. Over 250 parents, educators, and concerned citizens signed the Declaration. In 2016, we updated our policy agenda. We also developed a Social Change Model describing our approach to improving student outcomes.
We intentionally work to build a donor network of families, educators, and community that is socio-economically, racially, culturally, and linguistically inclusive and that shares a positive, solutions- and results-oriented vision for improving Oakland public schools. Dozens of district and charter families and educators make monthly contributions as sustaining members of our organizations. GO Public Schools Oakland 501(c)(3) is also funded by local and national foundations. An updated list can be found here.
We are a coalition of families, educators, and community leaders from the hills and flatlands, East, West, and North Oakland, charter and district public schools who share a vision of an Oakland where all children receive the schooling and support they need to live successful, fulfilling lives. More than 550 individuals have made financial contributions to support our work. Our community events regularly draw over 100 community stakeholders.
Partner organizations are essential to our work. Since our inception, we have been grateful for the partnership of the following organizations (among others):
We partnered with Youth Together, Education Trust-West, SEIU Local 1021, Youth UpRising, Oakland Community Organizations (OCO), and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights to commission a study about effective teaching policy in Oakland.
We partnered with Urban Strategies Council, Oakland Public Education Fund, the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA, the United Way, and First Five Alameda County among others to produce Oakland Achieves: A Public Education Progress Report, which highlights key student outcome data from across Oakland.
We participate in the “All Kids” campaign with Urban Strategies Council, Oakland Community Organizations, 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, East Bay Asian Youth Center, Youth Uprising, and the Prescott Joseph Center to ensure students are successful by giving all district schools increased autonomy over staffing, budget, curriculum, and schedules. In April 2012, the OUSD school board passed a School Governance Policy in alignment with the values and goals of the “All Kids” campaign.
In 2011, we joined a statewide collaborative of community-based organizations including Families in Schools, Alliance for a Better Community, Reading and Beyond, COPE, and Education Trust-West working to advance effective teaching policy across the state.
In 2012, we joined with the California State PTA, the California School Boards Association, education reform, and civil rights organizations to oppose AB5, which, as written, would have significantly weakened California state policies regarding teacher evaluation. Going forward, we will work to support legislation that ensures robust teacher evaluations that provide teachers with the meaningful feedback and support needed to ensure all students have access to high quality teaching.
In 2011, we helped organize a broad coalition of partners, including the Oakland Education Association (OEA), SEIU Local 1021, Youth UpRising, National Equity Project, California Teachers Association, Urban Strategies Council, Oakland Parents Together, Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN), Oakland Schools Foundation, and Teach for America to support AB 609 to reverse millions of dollars in audit fines to OUSD incurred during the period of state administration.
We have collaborated with groups such as New Leaders for New Schools and The New Teacher Project to help bring best practices to Oakland.
We have worked with the California Charter School Association and other local charters such as Education for Change, Aspire Public Schools, and Lighthouse Community Charter School to support these schools and work toward a vision of closer partnership between OUSD and charters.
We have worked in partnership with Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to help access resources to support the district’s work, advance the strategic planning process, and to make information more accessible to our community.