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.