Category: Education/Schools/Youth

End of School Year Letter from OUSD Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell

Oakland Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, second from left. Photo by Ken Epstein

Oakland Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell, second from left. Photo by Ken Epstein.

By Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell

As I wrap up my first year as superintendent, I am filled with resolve and optimism for the future.

The collective efforts of our staff and the community to keep students at the center of everything is what drives me to help move the District forward through tough financial times.

I am confident that the steps we are taking to process and learn from past mistakes and our work to improve our accountability and budget forecasting systems are putting us on the right track.

While I know we have more work to do in service of students and families, I am confident about our future because I believe in OUSD.

Our achievements as a District defy the conditions we face every day. Our commitment to providing every Oakland student a high-quality education is first and foremost. We keep proving that we will stop at nothing to prepare our young people for success in college, career and community.

We owe a debt of gratitude to our committed partners, participants in OUSD committees, Oakland voters who helped bring much needed investment to our schools via Measures N, G, and G1 and our existing bond, and our families.

We cannot do this work alone. Here are a few of our accomplishments that show we are headed in the right direction:

  • We are leading the State in our efforts to transform high school experiences through Linked Learning. Seventy-eight percent of OUSD high school students participated in pathways this year. That’s up from 53 percent just two years ago, in 2015-16. This means that the majority of our graduates are leaving the District having participated in relevant work-based learning.
  • Graduation rates continue to rise across the District; we have seen improvement in each of the past three years with an increase of 5 percent total from the class of 2014 to the class of 2016. We’ve also seen meaningful gains in graduation rates among Special Education students, with more work to be done.
  • We are deepening our commitment to Social Emotional Learning (SEL) practices to increase both adult and student engagement, and to foster positive interactions that help our youth express their feelings, manage their actions, and engage in learning.
  • Additionally, this year, more than 300 youth were trained as Restorative Justice (RJ) peer facilitators and more than 48,000 (duplicated) students utilized RJ practices.

The explosive growth and interest in computer science at the middle and high school levels continues, building on the 1,000 percent increase in computer science course enrollment we saw between 2015 and 2017. This year, 3,750 middle and high school students were inspired in computer science courses.

We are taking steps towards bringing our Equity Policy to life. The Office of Equity has built on the nationally recognized model of African American Male Achievement to change the narrative and provide targeted support to students through the African American Female Excellence, Latino/a Student Achievement, and Asian Pacific Islander Student Achievement initiatives.

Strengthening our Student and Family Engagement efforts remains a top priority. We continue to work with families and students to understand critical information about student learning, school budgets, and District-wide initiatives. We are continuously improving the ways we encourage participation in OUSD committees and how we ask for partnership and feedback from students and families.

The first year of the Blueprint for Quality Schools process to increase quality education and address sustainability across OUSD is complete. The multi-year strategy continues next year with our first Cohort of schools and the selection of the second Cohort.

As a Sanctuary District, we continue to welcome and stand behind ALL students, no matter where they were born or the barriers they overcame to be here. We cherish the cultural richness in our District and make no exceptions when it comes to including learners with a wide variety of backgrounds and needs.
All of us can take pride in these accomplishments. Next year and going forward, we will continue to make strides to become a more sustainable and thriving District. By aligning and uniting around our District values of Joy, Integrity, Equity, Excellence, Cultural Responsiveness – and, above all – putting Students First, we will realize our vision. Together.

We look forward to welcoming students back for the first day of school on Monday, August 13.

Published June 27, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

Are Democratic Legislators Working for or Against Oakland Schools?

Teachers and parents protest budget cuts at school board meeting earlier this school year. Photo by Ken Epstein

 

Oakland and several other school districts were hoping this month that legislators would be willing to adopt provisions in the new state budget that would give their districts the financial relief they need to stabilize their finances.

But unfortunately, the Democratic administration was not interested in putting out a helping hand to these cash-strapped districts, which are made up primarily of students of color.

The four districts—Oakland, Inglewood, Vallejo and South Monterey County—were all taken over by the state in the past 15 years and are still struggling to regain stability while repaying loans that were imposed on them by the state.

Oakland was forced to take a $100 million loan in 2003 even though its deficit at the time was only about $37 million. The district is scheduled to continue paying about $6 million a year until 2024.

Although the OUSD superintendent and school board now run the district, a state-appointed trustee still has veto power over all of the district’s financial decisions.

Inglewood, which went into state receivership in 2012, is paying $1.8 million a year on a $29 million state loan debt and remains under the control of a state-appointed administrator.
Legislators recently rejected a recommendation proposed by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, which would have given the districts a five-year deferment on those loans.

The money might have averted a teachers’ strike in Inglewood Unified, where the district and union reached a tentative agreement, contingent on the district being able to receive $4 million in “state relief” for at least two years.

Oakland Unified, which also faces a possible teachers’ strike, wanted to be included in whatever deal was offered to Inglewood.

“To continue to offer high quality education to the young people of Oakland, we believe that our leadership needs this temporary budget relief so that they can make strategic choices to preserve the financial integrity of our district,” said Oakland Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell.

“The alternative could lead to draconian cuts that would hurt all students in our city.”
Oakland made $9.3 million in cuts this year and must cut another $10 million next year, according to district reports.

Assemblymember Bonta, (D-Oakland), worked with legislators from all four districts to provide the same relief to all of them, while recognizing that his proposal was a long shot, especially for Oakland.

He is now looking for other ways to obtain financial support for Oakland, according to his office.

“The state is not sympathetic to Oakland’s situation,” Bonta told EdSource. “I think there’s definitely push back from the administration on this, otherwise it would have been granted by now.”

Bonta said the governor’s administration does not look favorably at Oakland, in part because Oakland’s fiscal management has been criticized by the Fiscal Crisis Management & Assistance Team (FCMAT).

In an interview with EdSource, Michael Fine, CEO of FCMAT, said a just-completed analysis of district finances to be posted online soon shows that Oakland can meet its financial obligations at this time without state assistance.

“It’s in distress,” he said, “but Oakland doesn’t need this relief right now.”

According to FCMAT, which helped the state run the school district during the period of state receivership between 2003 and 2009, the district’s current financial woes are unrelated to the state takeover.

However, reports from the time show that under state receivership, with the involvement of FCMAT staff, the state spent Oakland’s $100 million state loan without consulting the community and ran the district’s finances without conducting any outside audits.

When receivership ended and FCMAT left, the district still had a deficit. Gov. Jerry Brown, who was mayor of Oakland at the time of the state takeover of the schools, was deeply involved in engineering the takeover, along with political allies. While mayor, he focused his efforts to support education by creating and fundraising for two Oakland charter schools.

Published by Post staff with material from EdSource/Theresa Harrington.

Published June 22, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

New Teacher Union President Keith Brown Seeks Parent, Community Unity

“We will join with our families and communities in campaigns for access to quality jobs, affordable housing and safe neighborhoods,” says Brown

Keith Brown,

By Ken Epstein

Keith Brown, Oakland’s newly elected teacher union president, is still cleaning out his classroom at Bret Harte Middle School as he prepares to take the helm of the 2,700-member teachers union, the Oakland Education Association (OEA).

Brown, until recently vice president of the OEA, is a 19-year veteran teacher in Oakland, including 12 years at Bret Harte. A lifelong Oakland resident, he grew up in the city’s public schools, attending Hawthorne Elementary, Bret Harte Junior High and Skyline High.

Ismael “Ish” Armendariz

When he takes office on July 1, he will be joined by teacher leaders who were elected as part of his team: Ismael “Ish” Armendariz, special education teacher at Edna Brewer Middle; Tuwe Mehn, early childhood teacher; Jasmene Miranda, director of the Media Academy at Fremont High; and Jennifer Brouhard, fifth-grade teacher at Glenview Elementary.

In an interview last week on Radio Station KPFA, Brown discussed his program for change, including “bargaining for the common good” and supporting “organic teacher leadership” at school sites, which he believes are necessary for the union to effectively respond to local, state and national challenges threatening the city’s public schools and the wellbeing of Oakland families and community.

“One of the (key) points on our platform was to join with our families and communities in campaigns for access to quality jobs, affordable housing, safe neighborhoods, healthcare and social services,” Brown said.

In “bargaining for the common good,” parent and community leaders will become “part of the union’s expanded bargaining team, where negotiations with the district are not only about salaries, working conditions and health benefits (but) also about … the common good of the community,” he said.

Jasmene Miranda

This innovative approach is already being implemented by teachers in St. Paul, Minnesota and Sacramento, he said.

In Sacramento, the union, in partnership with communities of color and faith-based organizations, was able to win significant funding for restorative justice programs in classrooms, moving away

from the “zero tolerance” approach to discipline that fuels the school-to-prison pipeline, he said.

In St. Paul, teachers “aligned with groups such as Black Lives Matter, participating in protests against the tragic murder of Philando Castile,” a school employee who was killed by a police officer on July 6, 2016, he said.

“There is so much potential in Oakland,” said Brown, pointing out that the OEA already has strong ties with many community groups, such as Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), Oakland Parents Together (OPT) and Justice for Oakland Students (J4OS).

Tuwe Mehn

“Now is the time to really strengthen those relationships, moving beyond the teachers union having a transactional relationship with community organizations and parents, rather to have a transformative, authentic relationship where we’re working together and fighting for the things that are going to make our Oakland community a much better place to live,” said Brown.

He said his leadership team is also committed to supporting strong site “organic” leaders who are among the best teachers at their schools and who other educators seek out for advice on how to improve their teaching.

“Our role is to provide due process for all of our members, as a right that every worker should have – public school teachers or any worker,” he said.

Jennifer Brouhard

“There are a lot of excellent teachers in the public schools,” Brown said. “We really need to be in the driver’s seat, having some teacher driven professional

development, (so) our union becomes a space for our educators to come present new ideas, to collaborate.”

“Of course, there are teachers who need extra support, extra mentorship,” he said.  “It is our role as a union to provide those teachers with support so they can get

better.  It’s about improving outcomes for students.”

Looking at current negotiations with the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD), where the OEA has been negotiating for 18 months without a contract, he said:

While the school district continues to face financial difficulties, “there is money there to settle a contract with Oakland teachers that prioritizes students, reducing

class sizes, giving teachers a living wage. There is money, but that has to be made a priority,” he said.

“But for the transformative change that we really need to have outstanding public schools, we need to come together, collectively,” he said.

“We live in California, the fifth largest economy in the world. However, we are 46th in per pupil spending,” said Brown.

Published June 16, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan Endorses Cat Brooks

Rebecca Kaplan (left) and Cat Brooks. Photo by Ken Epstein

 

By Ken Epstein

City Councilmember-at-Large Rebecca Kaplan, one of Oakland’s most popular progressive political leaders, ended months of speculation about whether she would jump into the mayoral race when she announced last Thursday that she is committing her energy to elect community activist, actor and radio journalist Cat Brooks as mayor of Oakland.

“With a lot of thought and prayer and contemplation” of the social justice issues facing Oakland, “I have come to the conclusion that the best way to strengthen our community’s voice (for our) vital goals is by endorsing and supporting Cat Brooks for mayor,” said Kaplan, speaking at an event held at the Joyce Gordon Gallery in downtown Oakland.

“We will continue to build and move forward together,” she said. “We have an opportunity to strengthen our solidarity, to strengthen our city and to make sure we have a city hall that is responsive to the community.”

Kaplan focused on some of the major social and moral challenges the city is facing that she says are being ignored by Mayor Libby Schaaf.

“We deserve leadership that believes in respect and that believes in justice and understands that we are judged by how we treat the least of these,” she said.

“Every additional person who is homeless should be a heartbreak to all of us and a call to action and a demand to do something about it,” said Kaplan.

She also spoke about what she considers Mayor Schaaf’s failure to punish police who participated in and covered up the Oakland Police Department’s sex abuse scandal.

“The level of police misconduct that has been tolerated is totally unacceptable,” she said, accusing the mayor of intervening to hide OPD officers’ “brutal sexual misconduct,” promoting those who covered it up and punishing those who spoke against it.

A rabbi, Kaplan said a prayer for Brooks’ campaign:

“I pray that you may be protected and strengthened in this incredible journey and that I may be blessed to have the opportunity to work together with you…May your voice be strong, may you be heard.”

Thanking Kaplan and assembled supporters, Brooks invited everyone to “support a vision of justice, a vision of transformation, a vision of mobilizing our people to the polls to take back our city.”

Rather than having to fight City Hall every day, “What if we spent all of our time building the kind of Oakland we want to live in?” she asked.

She said the city should be working to build housing so teachers and low-paid nonprofit employees can afford to live in Oakland.

“It can be done, and if the current administration had the will to do it, it would be done,” said Brooks.

Saying that this is not “a Cat Brooks campaign,” she emphasized that she would hold “people’s assemblies” or town hall meetings during the next two months for input of community people who are struggling to improve conditions and are knowledgeable about the issues.

“There’s amazing work that’s being done on a range of issues, and those will be the voices that determine the direction of this city,” said Brooks. “There are so many brilliant, beautiful ideas that are being ignored by City Hall.”

For more information, go to www.catbrooksforoakland.com/ and www.kaplanforoakland.com/

Published June 15, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Parent Clarissa Doutherd Kicks Off Campaign for School Board, District 4


Clarissa Doutherd

By Ken Epstein

Parent leader Clarissa Doutherd kicked off her campaign Sunday for District 4 representative on the Oakland Board of Education, speaking to a large gathering at a BBQ in an East Oakland park.

“I am running for my child,” said Doutherd.

“The thing that has been most critical in his development and my development as a parent and a leader in my community is being in a school environment where I feel like teachers are heard, parents are heard, and students are supported and loved in their full dignity and humanity as learners,” she said, emphasizing the values that motivate her vision for public education.

She is challenging District 4 incumbent Nina Senn, an attorney who has served on the school board since 2015.

Doutherd is executive director of Parent Voices Oakland, an East Bay chapter of Parent Voices California. She has worked for over a decade for grassroots, nonprofit organizations. Recently, she was a leader in the effort to pass Alameda County Measure A, a proposed sales tax for childcare and early education.

She is entering the race at a time when the school board is under intense criticism for continuing financial hardships and budget cuts facing the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) brought on by the district’s former pro-charter school superintendent.

“In this moment, we know there’s a clear need for fiscal transparency,” she said. “I have been through many, many budget fights (as a leader of a) parent-run, parent-led organization, advocating for accountability about where our dollars are spent and really building a movement where we’re all working together.”

School district policy decisions must be based on the needs of schools and the voices of parents, teachers and students, she said, “ensuring that school sites and teachers have the tools they need to support every single child and every single family.”

Doutherd currently serves as co-chair of the Alameda County Early Childhood Policy Committee and as a steering committee member of the Alameda County Early Care and Education Planning Council. She also sits on the Alameda County-Oakland Community Partnership Board for the City of Oakland.

She is the recipient of the prestigious Gloria Steinem “Woman of Vision” award, First 5 of Alameda County Parent Advocate Award and the Oakland District 4 Local Heroes Award.
Looking at the impact of charter schools on the school district, Doutherd said she understands why some people  choose charters. But charters are not the answer because they will not produce equal education for all, she said.

“Charters are a reality. They are here. But as a movement, I want us to ask ourselves not about the individual choices of parents and the things they have to do because our Black and Brown students are struggling in environments that may be hostile to them.”

But what we need to do is look at is how resources are distributed, she said. “Every single child deserves to have the same quality education, no matter where your zip code is, no matter what school you sign up to.”

“People have had to build alternative systems and alternative pathways for themselves,” she continued.  “It’s time to interrupt that. Our schools can get it done.

“As a community, as a movement of parents, teachers, students and youth activists, we have an opportunity to make sure our schools, are performing well, no matter where you live.”

Doutherd said her experiences as a leader have taught her the struggle can be difficult and that it is necessary to speak truth in places where people sometimes want to silence you.

“I’ve been fighting for many years in what (has) felt like an uphill battle,” she said. “But as someone who is willing to fight and not compromise my integrity and my values, I sleep well at night.

“Our elected officials should be able to say the same.”

Doutherd said she talks to families every day “because those are the voices that matter. That is who should be centered in policies.

“That is who our elected officials need to be accountable to. Period.”

For more information, go to www.clarissaforoaklandschools.com

Published June 15, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Alameda County’s Measure A for Childcare Funding Falls Short of Victory

More than 214,000 Alameda County citizens voted yes in support of Measure A, an innovative half percent sales tax designed to provide more child care and preschool opportunities to low-income families. The final tally was 66.19 percent, which is just shy of the required 2/3 majority of 66.67 percent.

Wilma Chan

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to place Measure A on the June 5, 2018 ballot with the hope that the half percent sales tax would raise $140 million each year for child care services.

Currently, only 44 pwewnr of Alameda County children enter kindergarten ready for school. Expanded access to early care and education would have helped more children be ready for kindergarten. It would also ensure that the economy would have a reliable, prepared workforce. Families would have been able to head out to work without worrying about the care of their children. Measure A also would have increased pay for child care providers and educators to help them earn a more livable wage and reduce turnover.

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, President of the Board of Supervisors and a longtime advocate for early care and education, said, “Although Measure A received over 66 percent of the vote, it failed at the ballot box due to onerous state laws that require a supermajority to pass local tax measures. We are disappointed that we did not prevail on Election Day. But we came very close and we know that our work is not done. It’s clear that the overwhelming majority of voters support Measure A, and we need to keep moving forward.”

Measure A was a community-wide initiative informed by more than 100 listening sessions held earlier this year. An extensive program plan was developed that designated where funds would be allocated had the measure passed.

“A huge thank you to our dedicated volunteers who worked long hours spreading the word about Measure A. We also appreciate all of the Alameda County voters who made sure to cast their ballot this Election Day,” said Supervisor Chan.

 

 

Katrina Marsh Hired as Executive Director of Oakland Parents Together

 

Katrina Marsh

 

By Post Staff

Katrina Marsh has been named Acting Executive Director of Oakland Parents Together (OPT). She replaces Henry Hitz, who is retiring at the end of June.

Marsh’s position as permanent executive director is expected to be finalized at OPT’s annual meeting, Monday, June 18, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 320 Lenox Ave. in Oakland.

Marsh has served as the Assistant Director of OPT since January 2017. She earned a master’s Degree in Social Work from Columbia University and a Doctor of Ministry from Hebrew Union College.

She has worked in New York with the homeless, foster children, and other vulnerable populations.

Oakland Parents Together’s mission is to organize and empower parents and care givers to advocate for children as full partners in the Oakland Public Schools.

“OPT sees parents helping each other’s families thrive,” according to the organization’s website.

“We see schools modeled on education reforms that include Head Start, small adult/student ratios and collegial relations between parents and teachers,” the website says. “We see a society in which Poverty, inequality and illiteracy are all things of the past, and all families have the means to flourish and prosper.”

For more information, go to www.parentstogether.org/

Published June 12, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

 

Oakland Post Reporter Ken Epstein Wins John Swett Media Award

Ken Epstein received the John Swett Award for Media Excellence at a California Teachers Association (CTA) reception Friday in Los Angeles. Show are (l-r): Eric C. Heins, CTA president; Theresa Montaño, CTA vice president; Ken Epstein; Mona Davidson, Communications Committee Chair, CTA; Trish Gorham, Oakland Education Association president; David Goldberg, Secretary-Treasurer, CTA. Photo by Mike Myslinski/CTA.

By Post Staff

Oakland Post reporter and contributing editor Ken Epstein has received the 2018 John Swett Award for Media Excellence for reporting on education issues, an annual statewide competition hosted by the California Teachers Association (CTA).

The award reception, held last Friday in Los Angeles, honored winners who were nominated by local teacher union chapters.  The contest was judged by a panel of professional journalists.

Epstein won in the category of weekly and semi-weekly newspapers. This is the third year in the row that he has received the award, nominated by the Oakland Education Association.

He won for his news analysis about how, back in 2003, he says political leaders helped engineer state control of the Oakland Unified School District.

By not allowing the district to use facilities bond money to balance its budget and then repay the money to itself, state and local politicians forced the district to borrow $100 million, which resulted in the state takeover of the district and the loss of local control, according to Epstein’s article.

The appointed state administrator was removed in 2009, but impact on Oakland’s budget continues, he wrote.

The district still owes the state $40 million, which it is repaying at $6 million a year.

“Our judges praised Ken’s story for providing ‘historical context to ongoing educational disputes in Oakland’ and praised this example of ‘smart political reporting,’” according to a statement released by the CTA.

Open Letter: Councilmember Kaplan Challenges Sale of Public Land for Charter School

 Mayor and City Administrator Don’t Want a Public Lands Policy, Says Kaplan

By Rebecca Kaplan

The Community and Economic Development (CED) committee of the Oakland City Council voted two weeks ago to forward to the full council the sale of public land at Derby Street in the Fruitvale District for development of a charter school.  The sale was on the City Council agenda last week but was withdrawn without explanation. In response to the proposal, Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan sent the administration and the mayor the following letter:

Rebecca Kaplan

I am writing to you to share questions and concerns about your proposal to sell a parcel of the City of Oakland’s public land, which is zoned for multi-family residential, to sell for a charter school, without public lands policies regarding jobs and other standards.

During the administration’s prior presentation on the Derby St. parcel, in 2015, you stated that “The new development could also produce over a hundred new affordable housing units for the residents of Oakland.”  In addition, your 2015 report, both verbally and in writing, stated that the negotiations would be for a lease, not a sale.

Now, you have brought forward a proposal to sell the land for a dramatically increased size charter school, not housing, despite our large and growing housing crisis.

In addition, I am concerned about the public lands policy effort.  As you may know, there have been extensive meetings over the past two years to develop a public lands policy.

When I proposed last year to adopt a policy setting certain standards for use of public lands, and for quality jobs, local hiring, and other public benefits for public lands, the administration requested that my proposal not move forward, due to your claim that there was already a public lands policy development process underway covering many of the same topics.

I have been participating in many of those meetings now, and, in recent weeks, the administration has stated that you do not intend to bring forward or propose a public lands policy, for how public land would be used for the public good, local jobs, and other benefits, despite extensive work by a broad community coalition to develop such policies.

Instead, you have suggested a listing and case-by-case basis.  And now, in the absence of either a policy, or of the strategy list the administration says you will bring forward, we are being asked to go ahead with the sale of this particular piece of public land, with no analysis or understanding of how it fits into a public lands policy or strategy.

In addition, it contains no mention of quality jobs, local hiring, ban the box, or other community benefits.

Furthermore, while this decision would have substantial impact on the overall school system in Oakland, we have received letters from OUSD leaders, stating that they have not been consulted on this decision, and expressing further concerns as well.

Please clarify:

  • Why is affordable housing not included?
  • What jobs policies or other community benefits will be included?
  • Why is the administration retracting your prior commitment to a public lands policy? On whose direction was this decision made?
  • What consultations on this decision have taken place? With whom? Has OUSD been included in these discussions?
  • What is your analysis of the potential impact of the proposed project, including the impact on surrounding schools?
 Published May 26, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Council Committee Approves Sale of Public Land to Charter School

Public hearing will be held at Tuesday’s City Council meeting

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

By Ken Epstein

The City’s Community and Economic Development (CED) voted unanimously to approve the sale of a publicly owned parcel of land for a K-8 charter school in the Fruitvale District that community activists say would compete with and undermine nearby public schools.

Councilmembers Noel Gallo, Annie Campbell Washington and Lynette Gibson McElhaney voted in favor of the sale, which now goes to the City Council for a public hearing next Tuesday.

The school, Aspire Eres Charter Academy, is currently located at 1936 Courtland Ave., near Fremont High School, serving 217 students. The proposed three-story school would serve 620 students, nearly three times as many as attend the existing school.

The 9,000-square-foot property is located on the northwest side of Derby Avenue between East 15th Street and International Blvd, which city staff intends to sell to a private developer for $450,000.

Parents, children and staff at the charter school told city councilmembers they desperately need a larger and more up-to-date space.

“We’re currently in a very cramped, dated facility,” said, Kimi Kean, superintendent of Aspire Public Schools 11 Bay Area campuses.

The sale of the property was already approved by the city’s Planning Commission on April 18.

According city staff, the property must be sold and rather than leased to the developer because of legal requirements connected to the $30 million in funding that the project is receiving from the state.

Opposing the sale of public land to the charter school, school activist Mike Hutchinson said, “Charter schools are in direct competition with our public schools. For every student who goes to charter schools, that (money) doesn’t go to the public school, schools, it goes to the charter school.”

Underscoring the impact of charters on the Oakland Unified School District, a new report released this week says that charters cost OUSD $57.3 million in funding every year. The study, called “Breaking Point: The Cost of Charter Schools for Public School Districts,” was commissioned by In the Public Interest, an Oakland-based think tank.

Furthermore, Hutchinson said, the charter would be located only two blocks away from two elementary schools housed at the Cesar Chavez Education Center, which the school district and the city spent tens of millions of dollars to build.

“This will destroy (those schools),” he said.

Tyler Earl, a legal fellow with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), said that selling the property to a developer to build a charter school was a violation “in total disregard of the city’s responsibility to properly consider this land for affordable housing.”

“(You are) getting rid of this land without considering the state law (that says) you must first consider affordable housing. This must be done – it’s required by law, and it’s required by city ordinance,” he said.

Published May 10, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post