Archive for December, 2018

School District Wants to Close Roots International Academy This School Year

Holiday Robocall upsets parents and teachers at East Oakland middle school

Roots International Academy football team. Roots is a neighborhood middle school located at the old campus of Havenscourt Middle School at 66th Avenue and International Boulevard.

B Ken Epstein

As students and teachers were celebrating and preparing for the holiday winter break, officials of the Oakland Unified School District held a meeting at Roots International Academy to tell families and teachers that their school will be closed at the end of the current school year.

The announcement on the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 18 – only four days before the start of the holidays – was delivered by Supt. Kyla Johnson Trammell, a team of central

Roots is a neighborhood middle school at 66th Avenue and International Boulevard in East Oakland. The school shares a campus with a much better funded sixth through 12th-grade school, Coliseum College Prep Academy (CCPA), which make may take over the entire site if Roots closes.

The district’s decision, re­peated in a robocall to the entire school community on Friday – the last school day of the year, was blunt. The school will be closed and the students dispersed to other schools throughout the district. Students were promised an “opportunity ticket,” a pledge they would be able to enroll at a higher preforming school else­where in the district.

Without waiting for Roots or public input, the Board of Edu­cation is scheduled to start the process of closing the school at its first meeting after the win­ter break on Wednesday, Jan. 9, making the final decision on Jan. 23.

The large turnout at Tuesday’s meeting was surprising, accord­ing to people at the school. More than 100 parents, students and teachers took time from their holiday preparations to come to the meeting to speak out against the district’s rushed decision.

Reacting with surprise and anger, speakers expressed their concern that the district was making the decision without consulting them. They said the district is disrupting their children’s education and destroying their school community.

The district bears responsibility for neglecting and under-funding Roots for years, as well as frequently disrupting the school by chang­ing principals and removing staff and teachers, they said.

“They told the staff and community (at the Tuesday meeting) … that they would displace our neighborhood kids to schools that are not in their community,” said Roots teacher Quinn Ranahan in a Facebook post.

“The district told us that community voice(s) would not have anything to do with their choice as to whether to close a neigh­borhood public school,” Ranahan said. “School Board Rep. Shanthi Gonzales verbally committed to closing Roots without reason.”

“OUSD, how can you close a school you never fully funded?” she asked.

Silvia Ornelas, an eighth-grade parent who is active at the school, asked why the district is not answering the school community’s questions.

Roots parent Silvia Ornelas plays the robocall she received from the school district announcing that her child’s school would be closed in June. To view  a video of Ornelas playing the robo-message, go to www.facebook.com/pelesmom/videos/10218240051741630/UzpfSTY2ODI3ODMxNzoxMDE1NjI1MTU5MDg2ODMxOA/

“Why are they targeting Roots so quickly? What’s the rush?” Asked Ornelas.

“We’re trying to get the answers for our community,” she said. “People are devastated, parents and students alike. It’s heartbreak­ing. There are no clear answers.”

“Our kids need a one-on-one connection with adults,” she said. “They need to know they have somebody they can talk to. At Roots they have it. If they go to a bigger school, many of them will fall through the cracks.”

In statement to the Post, district spokesman John Sasaki said, “The plan is to absorb many students into the adjacent Coliseum College Prep Academy. All other students will receive an opportunity ticket which will give them priority placement to a higher performing mid­dle school.”

The Oakland Post has heard from staff that only a handful of stu­dents will be able to transfer to CCPA. The district so far not ex­plained whether the “Opportunity Ticket” amounts to more than a vague promise, which “higher preforming” schools students will be made available or why Roots cannot be merged with CCPA.

Last year, Roots had 309 students, 29 percent African American and 60 percent Latino, according to state statistics. The student popu­lation may have fallen last school year after an infestation of rats or mice led parents to pull 40 to 60 children from the school.

Megan Bumpus, a member of the Oakland Teachers Association (OEA) executive board, questioned why the district is ignoring its own community engagement plan for closing up to 24 schools in the next few years.

“Getting a robocall at the start of winter break announcing that your child’s school is closing is not community engagement,” Bum­pus said.

“Saying that there’s a three-year Blueprint process with a Board vote but then officially announcing that a school is closing in a few months without following the plan creates mistrust in a system de­signed to fail students of color in targeted neighborhoods,” she said.

The Roots community is are asking for people to attend the school board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 5:30 p.m., at La Escuelita Edu­cation Center, 1050 2nd Ave. in Oakland.

Published December 29, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

Patricia Williams-Myrick,80, Beloved Oakland Street Academy Principal

Patricia Williams Myrick (right) and her daughter Kelly Mayes in 1976.

By Post Staff

 Dozens of family members and hundreds of students mourn the passing of Patricia “Pat” Williams Myrick, who raised generations of young people as the principal of the Oakland Emiliano Zapata Street Academy.

She was also the matriarch of a wonderful family – her daughter Kelly; her three granddaughters – Mechele, Tiani, Genai and four great-granddaughters – Chazae; Chalynn, Avri, and Chazity.

“She made kids want to learn,” said Kelly, who spent much of her young life at the Street Academy and speaks with pride of her mother’s accomplishments.

Pat, the oldest of nine children, is credited with a remarkable combination of love and determination, which made the Street Academy an oasis of peace for the 40 years that she led it and to the current day.

The school has no security guards, no police and virtually no fights. Because families trusted Pat, she always knew the news, both good and bad, and she could head off problems before they occurred.

She trusted the faculty to create and carry out culturally relevant and rigorous curriculum. The school was one of the first in the country to require an ethnic studies history course, in addition to math and science courses that could lead to college admission for all students.

Gina Hill, the school’s current principal, says that Pat was the person she always called for advice in the years after Pat retired. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Ms. Pat. She is my West Coast auntie who believed and stated often, ‘Together we can make a change.’ “We need to believe this today more than ever. Ms. Pat loved and led fiercely, and I am proud to stand on her shoulders.”

Corrina Gould, a leader of Oakland’s Ohlone community, graduated from the Street Academy in 1984 and sent her own children to the school. She talks about Pat’s leadership on Facebook:
“She ran a school that was safe, and it didn’t matter what ‘hood’ you rep’d cuz when you were at Street, you were a student, and she would find out stuff about you even if you were messing up on the weekends. She would hold you accountable for your actions. “She never really had to yell; she could talk to you low and quiet and get your attention. She was always dressed to the nine’s and kept up her hair and ‘those nails’…

“I will miss her laughter and the way she stood up so straight that you felt like she could tower over anyone. She was bigger than life and I love her. I thank our ancestors for allowing us to cross our life paths.”

Musician and Street Academy Executive Assistant Bobby Young worked with Pat for 40 years and says of her, “The fact that the Street Academy continues today and is so effective is her legacy.”
Toynessa Kennedy, a doctoral student at Mills College, credits Pat with changing her life. “She helped me in high school; she helped me get to college; and she helped me get together with my now husband.”

There will a celebration of Pat’s life during the Martin Luther King Day week-end and more stories about her in next week’s Oakland Post.

Published December 28, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Open Letter: Support Rebecca Kaplan for City Council President

Rebecca Kaplan

Oakland City Council will be sworn in to office, including three newly-elected members. Immediately after the swear­ing-in (which starts at 11 a.m.), the Council will have the op­portunity to select its leaders for the coming year, including selecting the Council Presi­dent.

The President runs the meet­ings, initiates the Commit­tee assignments and takes the lead on crafting the agenda and making sure participation hap­pens smoothly. For the com­ing term, we urge the Council to support Councilmember-at-large Rebecca Kaplan for the position of Council President.

Kaplan has served on the Council for 10 years and has been re-elected by large mar­gins, city-wide, representing all the people of Oakland, and has a track record of working successfully to build broad co­alitions and advance policies to protect the needs of our com­munity.

She holds a bachelor’s de­gree from MIT, a Master’s in Urban and Environmental Policy, and a J.D. from Stan­ford Law School and is well equipped to handle the work of the Council Presidency, both in terms of understanding policy and for handling the procedural rules that govern Council meet­ings.

Kaplan was elected unani­mously, twice, as Chair of an­other government Board, the Alameda County Transporta­tion Commission, which in­cludes representatives from all of the cities in Alameda County, along with transit agencies and County Supervisors.

Therefore, Rebecca has ex­perience chairing meetings, making committee assign­ments, and leading the passage and implementation of suc­cessful ballot measures, with an even larger and more com­plicated Board.

Rebecca has a track re­cord of successfully bringing people together to develop and pass important initiatives, including the recent Oakland Vacant Property tax to fund homeless solutions, passing a citywide public lands policy for Oakland, Alameda Coun­ty’s Measure BB to fund trans­portation and infrastructure, and winning over $50 million in regional funding to clean up air pollution in Oakland’s hardest-hit communities from trucks, trains, and more.

Kaplan has helped to fight for fairness in employment and contracting, including for a disparity study, to improve access and equity in bank­ing, for meaningful commu­nity police oversight, and will work to help make sure home­less solutions and job training are strengthened.

Recently, Kaplan success­fully intervened to help reject racial profiling and strengthen the police commission, includ­ing regarding the problem of searches of people on parole and probation.

As a person who treats oth­ers with respect and under­stands that we are to be judged by how we treat the least of these, and as a person of faith and bible scholar who works well with those of all back­grounds, Kaplan will ensure a welcoming and harmonious environment at Council meet­ings.

For all these reasons and more, we urge the Council to elect Rebecca Kaplan as Coun­cil President for the coming term.

Co-signers of open letter supporting Kaplan for council president are:

Noni Session,

John Jones III,

Kimberly Mayfield,

Rev. Dr. Harold R. Mayberry, Henry Gage III,

James Vann,

Lynette Nei­dhardt,

Rashidah Grinage,

Henry Hitz,

Pamela Drake,

Gary Jimenez (VP of Politics, SEIU 1021*)

*Organization listed for iden­tification only.

Published December 27, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

State needs to help maintain, not close, Oakland schools

Roots International Academy, a middle school at 66th Avenue and International Boulevard in East Oakland, is slated to be closed at the end of the school year.

The Oakland school district is considering closing 24 more public schools. Oakland has already closed 15 schools, even though the city population is growing.

Dr. Kitty Kelly Epstein

An extensive study of public school closures, conducted by the National Education Policy Center, indicates that closing schools in urban communities does not save money and causes the greatest harm to the lowest income students. Closures do not save money on buildings, because the district may be forced to give the closed facility to a charter school, and the school to which students are transferred often needs renovation to accommodate the transferring students.

Closing schools disrupts the lives of children and drives more students out of the district, resulting in lower enrollment and further budget problems. A 2012 audit of Washington, D.C.’s closure of 23 schools found that the cost of the closures was $39 million, four times what the district was expected to save.

In Oakland, the school closings are especially unfair. Of the 24 threatened schools, all are in the low-income flatland neighborhoods; zero are in the affluent hill area; and zero are charter schools. The 15 schools that were already closed are also in the lower-income areas. When these facts are raised the hand-wringing begins. “We know these are difficult decisions, but…”

These are not difficult decisions. They are wrong and unnecessary decisions. So who is making them?

In 2003, the state took over the Oakland school district, a step which has since been condemned by many. The district argued that it did not need a loan because it could borrow from its own construction bonds, a step which had been taken by other districts.

At the insistence of then-state Sen. Don Perata, the state imposed a $100 million loan which was three times more than the highest estimate of the district deficit. The power of the elected school board was removed; a series of state administrators had total authority over the funds with no input from anyone in Oakland. Most of the money was spent on items that had nothing to do with the stated purpose of the takeover — correcting the finances.

And, by the end of the takeover period, the district’s finances were in worse shape than before the state took control.

Yet the state continued its power over the district through the non-elected, Bakersfield-based Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team and a state trustee. With all this “help,” the district now owes $40 million, which is more than the highest estimate of what Oakland needed in 2003.

There are other ways that the state makes both the financial and educational situation difficult. The state is in charge of who gets to teach. Its nonelected, nearly invisible Commission on Teacher Credentialing increases bureaucratic requirements, tests and fees almost every year, leading to an artificial teacher shortage, particularly of Latino and African American teachers who are least likely to afford the extra time and money required to jump through the ever-expanding series of hoops. A school with a constantly rotating set of temporary teachers is unlikely to be the first choice of parents.

And then there are the charter school laws, which do not allow a district to control how many charters open within its jurisdiction and will not allow districts to close any of them.

The State of California is the fifth largest economy in the world. It has a super-majority of Democrats in its Legislature and a large budget surplus. Yet for 15 years, it has played the role of hostile mortgage-holder to the Oakland schools.

The State of California needs to rescind the remaining debt, help the district maintain rather than close its community schools, and reform the laws that make quality education for nonaffluent Californians impossible. We hope that newly elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond will take up that task.

Kitty Kelly Epstein is an education professor and the author of two books about Oakland.

Published December 19, 2018 in the San Francisco Chronicle


Opinion: Black Veteran Wins Temporary Reprieve in Fight to Save His Home

Supporters attend superior court hearing Monday, Dec. 17 to back veteran Leonard Powell’s fight to stay in his home of 44 years.

By Gene Turitz

Backed by friends, neighbors and members of the Berkeley community, Leonard Powell – a 76-year-old African American veteran – won a temporary reprieve in Superior Court this week as he struggles to find a way to stay in the home that is fully paid for and where he has lived for 44 years.

Leonard Powell (right) with relative.

At the Monday morning hearing in Alameda County Superior in Hayward, the court was scheduled to hand the house over to a city- and court-appointed receiver who had run up nearly $700,000 in renovations after the city descended on the house with a building code inspection.

Mr. Powell, who lives at 911 Harmon St. in south Berkeley, and his neighbors were joined by Friends of Adeline, the Probate Court Reform Movement and Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett

The court decided that receiver Gerard Keena and Mr. Powell’s attorney should meet and come to an agreement about how much is owed.  Keena is saying that Mr. Powell owes $600,000 or $700,000.

Mr. Powell’s attorney argued that there has to be a justification for the inflated expenses, such as a $2,000 shower door, granite countertops in both kitchens, new hardwood floors throughout the house, and Italian tile in the two kitchens.

“Obviously, this wasn’t done for my benefit,” said Mr. Powell. “He wants me gone.”

He continued, “How can it cost $35,000 for lead and asbestos abatement?  How can it cost $6,000 to take out a fireplace?”

According to Mr. Powell, he felt the reason the judge asked Keena and Mr. Powell’s attorney to come to an agreement was because of the turnout organized by the Friends of Adeline.

The judge also ruled that Mr. Powell could not move back into his own home until this matter is cleared up, perhaps at the next hearing on Jan. 29.

Mr. Powell’s supporters showed up to let the court and the City of Berkeley know that the community cares about this Berkeley resident. They asked: If Mr. Powell has committed no crime, why is the City trying to force him out of his own home?

Keena originally was appointed as a receiver to oversee the correction of the Substandard Conditions on Mr. Powell’s property.  The Berkeley City Attorney, sitting with the receiver and his attorney in court, told the judge that the City “doesn’t have a dog in this fight.”

Although the judge did not respond directly to that statement, he did urge the city to do whatever it could to expedite the approval of a no interest $100,000 loan to Mr. Powell (routinely given to low-income seniors for home repairs), which would reduce Mr. Powell’s financial burden.

 Community members are raising questions they say need to be answered: Why did the cost go from an estimated $150,000 to $200,000, to correct substandard conditions, to a final cost of about $700,000?  Who gave the receiver the authority to completely renovate the house?

 Over the years, many rental properties in Berkeley were found to be not earth-quake safe, “Soft-story” buildings, but landlords often took years and years to carry out required repairs.

While leaving many tenants lived in unsafe conditions, the city did not try to take the property from any of these landlords. Receivers were not assigned, and no one lost their property.

Concerned Berkeley residents want the City of Berkeley to end these actions, committed by the city and greedy property owners, which result in removing more African-Americans from the city. They say there must be a right of return for those who have been driven out by gentrification and the unequal application of zoning codes.

Contacted by the Post for a response, Keena said, “My intention is to have Mr. Powell back in the house. It’s a challenging situation. I don’t usually comment on active cases.”

By Post deadline, the Berkeley City Attorney’s Office had not replied.

To contact the Friends of Adeline, contact  friendsofadeline@gmail.com or 510-338-7843.

To contract Probate Court Reform Movement (PCRM), call (510) 287-8200 or (831) 238-0096.  The PCRM meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at 360 14th St. in downtown Oakland.

Gene Turitz is a member of Friends of Adeline. Oakland Post staff contributed to this article.

 Published December 22, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Opinion: School Board Plan to Close Flatland Schools Is a Rerun of a Failed Policy

 

Protest in 2012 against closing Lakeview Elementary School on Grand Avenue near Lake Merritt. District said the school was next to the 580 freeway, and it was unhealthy for any students to go there.  Site now houses a charter school. Photo courtesy of indybay.org

By Mike Hutchinson

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD school board has released the first draft a proposal it calls the “Citywide Plan,” which would reduce the number of schools in Oakland by 24 through a combination of closures and mergers.

Mike Hutchinson

The school board, which released the draft in November, will vote on the final plan by March 1 and soon will be announcing the names of the first schools to be closed.

Under the plan, half of the schools in East Oakland will be closed while none of the most privileged schools in the hills will be closed.  The school board says OUSD has too many schools and must “right size” the district by closing schools, which will enable them to “expand access to quality.”

In evaluating the exaggerated claims of those who justify closing schools, it is important to take a look back at the 2011-12 school year, the last time Oakland experienced the trauma of mass school closures.

At that time, Lazear, Maxwell Park, Marshall, Lakeview, and Santa Fe elementary schools were closed, displacing over 1,000 students and nearly 200 teachers and support staff.  The schools, which were all 50-100 years old, had been valued anchors of their neighborhoods and were closed despite huge community opposition.

After the school board voted 5-2 to close those five schools, the community continued to fight the decision culminating in a 17-day sit-in/occupation at Lakeview that started on the last day of school.

The school board gave a variety of reasons for why the school closures were needed in 2012.  They said that the district had a structural deficit of $30 million and that they needed to close the schools to balance the budget.

However, other options for changing the budget priorities were never looked at, like limiting the use of consultants or reducing the central administration.  They said the district had too many schools and too many empty classrooms and that they needed to close schools that were under-enrolled. But Oakland is not a shrinking city, and the district controls enrollment through the central office.

OUSD promised that students from closed schools would receive free transportation and have the option to attend a higher performing school, but that never materialized.

Ultimately, the five schools closed in 2012 were in fact never really closed. Rather, neighborhood public schools were replaced by three private charter schools and one K-8 Spanish dual immersion, and one campus is being used to house Glenview Elementary while that school’s facility is being rebuilt.

In fact, all five “closed” schools are still open, only the previous students and families have been displaced.

The reasons given for the closures in 2012, structural deficit and too many schools, are the same reasons now being given to justify the Citywide Plan.

It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now.  No one – not the school board, the state trustee or the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT), has produced any evidence to show that closing those neighborhood schools saved the district any money.

In 2012, the school board made promises to the community that they didn’t honor, so how can we believe them now?

The results are clear: schools were never really closed, but neighborhood schools were displaced, only to be replaced by schools neighborhood families can’t attend.

Since California law will allow most of the closed public schools to be converted into charter schools. the end result of the Citywide Plan may make OUSD a majority charter school district.

Given all of this, why does the school board want to close and merge 24 schools over the next five years?  It’s not too late to stop this latest attempt to close our schools.

Please come to the Jan. 9 school board meeting and join our call for no cuts and no closures.

Mike Hutchinson is a spokesperson of Oakland Public Education Network (OPEN).

Published Dec. 22, 1018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Oakland Teachers Share Frustrations Over Charter Schools

Public school advocates say a proposed 625-student charter school in the Fruitvale District would drain students from existing nearby schools, such as those at the César Chávez Education Center, located at 2825 International Blvd.

By Zack Haber

Though Oakland Unified School District superintendent Kyla Johnson Trammell and the school board have both recently proposed that the district collaborate more with charter schools, some Oakland teachers decry the regimented curriculum, long work days, and the dumping of struggling students who might lower the schools’ test scores that they’ve experienced working for charter schools.

When Jesse Shapiro left his job at Aspire Lionel Wilson College Preparatory, a charter school, to teach at Oakland High School in 2008, he took a $4,000-a-year pay cut. He doesn’t regret his choice because Oakland High, a public school, allowed him to join a teacher’s union and have freedom to choose what he teaches.

Those opportunities weren’t available at Aspire Lionel Wilson.

Shapiro taught at the charter at the same time as Hillary Clinton was running against Barack Obama in the 2008 California presidential primary. School administrators discouraged him from teaching about the event as it occurred and encouraged him to follow the school’s regimented teaching timeline, which insisted he teach “The Federalist Papers.”

Algebra teacher Angelique Alexander, who recently left her job after one year at KIPP King Collegiate High School, a charter in San Lorenzo, to teach at Dewey Academy, a public school in Oakland, also said she felt frustrated with the school’s regimented teaching expectations. Her lesson plans had to be meticulously scripted, and administrators allowed little flexibility to reteach lessons if students did not understand what was taught the first time.

Alexander also felt her work schedule was excessive and unsustainable. Her on-site work¬day started at 7:30 a.m. and lasted until 5:30 p.m. Those hours did not include time for lesson planning. Her workday at Dewey Academy is shorter, running from 8 a.m. until 2:30 or 3 p.m. Though she took a $10,000-a-year pay cut to work at Dewey, she loves her new school and does not regret leaving KIPP King.

“The extra pay isn’t worth it,” she said.

Both Shapiro and Alexander felt pressured by their charter school’s administration to mark students’ grades higher than they felt many of their students deserved, and they both suspect they were pressured to inflate grades to improve their school’s reputation. They didn’t experience these practices in public schools.

KIPP King allowed many students into advanced math courses before Alexander felt they were ready. She thinks students were placed into advanced courses only to make KIPP King look more successful.

Although Aspire Lionel Wilson boasts higher test scores than most public schools in the district, Shapiro noticed that many of his students who were struggling to perform well academically left for other schools before they had the opportunity to take the standardized tests that schools use to measure their performance.

He thinks the school encouraged these transitions.

“I was teaching a class of about 60 kids at the beginning of the year, and by the end of the year in it was in the low forties,” he said. “So, you’re talking about a third of my students getting shipped away, and it was all the struggling students.”

Since funding for charter and public schools in California is based on total enrollment per student at the beginning of the school year, charter schools do not lose funding when they send students to another school mid-year. But public schools are required by law to accept the transfer and must absorb the cost of educating the student without receiving any of the student’s allocated funding.

Shapiro noted that since public and charter schools draw money from the state that would otherwise go to the public schools, the presence of charter schools harm nearby public schools.

“If anything is going to undo public schools right now, it’s going to be charter schools,” he said

Published December 20, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Council Rushes to Approve Five-Year Police Agreement

APTP activist James Burch tells City Council to stop putting the Oakland Police Officers Association’s needs above those of the community at Tuesday’s meeting. Photo by Zack Haber.

Zack Haber

 At a meeting that lasted over eight hours, continuing from Tuesday evening until 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, community members and activists from the Anti Police-Terror Project, the Coalition for Police Accountability, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and the First Congregational Church of Oakland criticized a proposed new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Officers Association.

The new MOU grants officers a 12.5 percent salary increase spread over five years.

All council members voted in favor of the MOU except Rebecca Kaplan, who voted no. Noel Gallo abstained, and Desley Brooks was absent.

James Burch, an activist with the Anti Police-Terror Project, wanted the council to delay the vote to seek input from the community.

“In crafting a new MOU, the City Council is more concerned with their relationship with the Oakland Police Officers Association than they are with the wants and needs of the people of Oakland,” he said.

Burch said the timing of the vote shows the council does not respect the will of Oakland residents. The current OPOA agreement does not expire for over six months, leaving plenty of time to seek the views of the police commission and other city residents.

By settling the agreement early, the council and the administration locked up wages and rules governing the police before recently elected City Councilmembers Nikki Fortunato Bas, Loren Taylor and Sheng Thao take office.

“Nikki Fortunato Bas was voted in over Abel Gullén because Gullén was being held accountable for his failure to work with community over the last several years,” Burch said. “Bas has promised to work with community, and I believe her.” But Oakland’s newly elected council members will not have a say in Oakland’s MOU with its police union.

Rashidah Grinage, a member of the Coalition for Police Accountability, was also concerned with the rush to vote on the agreement. “The whole thing was a stealth attack,” Grinage said. “We had no advance knowledge that this was on the agenda, so we had no time to organize around it.”

Grinage said parts of the MOU were overlooked like the overtime budget, how officers are promoted and oversight on police discipline is handled. She said the newly elected Council members might have wanted to work with Oakland residents to change the language in the MOU before voting on it.

Published December 15 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Do Schaaf and Her Administration Bury City Policies They Oppose?

By Ken Epstein

At this week’s City Council meeting, Assistant to the City Administrator Joe DeVries reported on another set of “Tuff Sheds” the city is installing.

James Vann

Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan asked DeVries what city staff is doing about implementing the comprehensive set of actions on homelessness passed in April by the council, the city’s policy-making body.

DeVries responded: “They’re under consideration.”

A number of community leaders are saying that this response is a bold statement of what Schaaf and her administration have long been doing, refusing to implement policies they do not like and they show no intention of doing anything meaningful about homelessness.

Rashidah Grinage

“Whatever the council decides does not matter. Staff is doing what it wants to do, making fools of the council members,” said James Vann of the Homeless Advocacy Working Group.

“That has been our experience as well,” said Rashidah Grinage of the Coalition for Police Accountability.

“The City Council legislates, and the administration does what it wants to do—to implement what the council voted for, ignore it or do something different altogether.”

A policy is passed but whether it is implemented never comes back to council, she said. “We have a runaway situation where the administration” has no controls.

“We learned that lesson very early on,” said Grinage. “Whatever you think passed, unless you keep watching it, it could be all for nothing.”

Published December 15, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Defend and Transform Oakland’s Public Schools

More than 100 teachers, parents and community members attended a community assembly Sunday, Dec. 9 to discuss the fight for a living wage for teachers and other school employees and “for schools our students deserve.” Photo by Ken Epstein.

 By Post Staff

The Post Salon co-sponsored a community dialogue on schools Sunday, Dec. 9. along with Oakland Public Education Network (OPEN), Educators for Democratic Schools, the New McClymonds Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee of Parents and Education.

Speaking at the meeting were Oakland teachers, parents and community leaders concerned about low teacher salaries, upcoming budget cuts and the threat of closing schools and selling or leasing the campuses to charter schools.

Mike Hutchinson from OPEN said, “There’s only one way to stop this. That’s to organize.” And he presented information to indicate that the district is not really in a deficit. Taylor Wallace explained why the state does not have Black and Latino teachers and called for changing this serious situation. Oakland teacher Megan Bumpus represented the Oakland Education Association and explained the teachers’ struggle with the school district.

Among ideas presented at the Salon was a brief draft program that includes demands on the State of California, which bears much of the responsibility for Oakland’s problems.
While the district may be guilty of misspending, it is the State of California that is responsible for funding and is depriving the public schools of the money they need to serve the needs of Oakland children.

And it is the State that decides who is allowed to teach and creates obstacles that keep some of the best young teachers out of the classroom.

More than 100 teachers, parents and community members attended a community assembly Sunday, Dec. 9 to discuss the fight for a living wage for teachers and other school employees and “for schools our students deserve.” Photo by Ken Epstein.

At the end of the dialogue, participants adopted a motion to hold a press conference at the State Building in January.

Draft of a People’s Program:

  1. No public school closings. Closing schools does not save money. It hurts kids and neighborhoods.
  2. No sale of public property. A major element of privatization is selling off the legacy of publicly owned property and institutions left to us by earlier generations of Oaklanders.
  3. No budget cuts to the schools. California is one of the richest economies in the world. It has a budget surplus, a Democratic majority in the legislature, and the capacity to fully fund schools.
  4. End the teacher shortage and the lack of Black, Latino, indigenous and Asian teachers by eliminating such barriers as multiple standardized tests and multiple fees and by reforming the non-elected, unrepresentative State Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
  5. Rescind the remainder of the debt imposed on Oakland by the State legislature 15 years ago and spent by state-appointed administrators without input from Oakland residents
  6. A living wage for all school employees. A first-year teacher, a custodian, a school secretary should all be able to live in the city where they work, if they wish to do so. That’s a “community school.”
  7. End the discrimination against schools below the 580 freeway.
  8. FCMAT (Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team) out of Oakland. Democratic control of our school budget and school governance.
  9. Open the books of the Ed Fund, which was created by non-elected State Administrators and does not provide transparency.
  10. Reduce class sizes, standardized testing, test prep, age-inappropriate expectations, unnecessary bureaucracy, and mid-year consolidations. Engage parents and teachers in a collaborative recreation of special education and the education of immigrant and emergent bilingual students.

If you have thoughts or comments on this draft program, send an email to Salonpost02@gmail.com

 

Published December 15, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post