Category: Education/Schools/Youth

Moratorium on Sale of Public Land Dies in Council Committee

Esther Goolsby of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE).

By Ken Epstein

A proposed moratorium that would block the sale of public land until the City Council adopts a policy that guarantees “public land for public use,” died in the Community and Economic Development (CED) Committee this week.

Not a single member of the committee—neither Lynette Gibson McElhaney, Annie Campbell Washington, Larry Reid nor Noel Gallo—spoke in favor of the resolution or made a motion to approve it.

Cathy Leonard

While the other councilmembers sat in silence, Councilmember McElhaney opposed the motion, which was supported by 22 speakers this week and many more when it came up at the last CED meeting.

McElhaney said that since the council has scheduled a public lands policy diuscussion for mid-October, “it almost seems that (the moratorium) is moot given that we’re going to make a final decision on a public lands policy” at that time.

Community members were left to wonder whether the council committee’s silence and inaction meant that they remain committed to selling public property before a transparent policy can be passed that restricts the long-standing process of making behind-doors, no-bid agreements with favored market-rate developers that have led to many protests at City Council meetings.

Speaking in favor of the moratorium, James Vann of the Post Salon Community Assembly pointed out that putting something on the agenda for October does not mean that it would be passed at that time.

“This has been going on for years,” said Vann. “Everything that comes before you is usually delayed again and again. The moratorium simply says, put the brakes on. Hold your horses. “Let’s not keep selling public land while we work this out. This will be an incentive to get the (ball) rolling and get this done by October. We need the moratorium.”

Gloria Bruce, executive director of East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO), said, “I’m frustrated that you’re still resistant to putting the moratorium in place.” Jeff Levin of EBHO said, The point of a moratorium is to temporarily prevent the selloff of land, which would result in “making the public land policy meaningless.”

Community member Assata Olugbala said the community needs to see a moratorium in writing, quoting James Baldwin, who said, “I can’t believe what you say because I see what you do.”

“Don’t think of it like a moratorium,” she said, “think of it like a prenup. Even in a loving situation people get a written agreement that secures their best interests. Trust but verify.”

Mike Hutchinson said that a moratorium would not be necessary if councilmembers would refuse to sell property until there is a policy.

“We need a pledge from each City Council member that you will not vote for any more land sales until we have a policy,” he said.

“We need action, and the first action we need is relief from the threat of our public land being sold out from under us,” he added. “Where do each of you stand on the moratorium. This is a vote, and this is a decision we won’t forget.”

Esther Goolsby of Communities for a Better Environment emphasized the importance of affordable housing to Oakland’s homeless. “We need to put people in places—not storage units, not cages, not Tuff Sheds—actual homes,” she said.

Kathy Leonard reminded councilmembers that President Donald Trump is (only) concerned “about the wealthy, not the poor.”

If the council shows no concern for preserving public land for affordable housing, she asked, “How are we any different than Trump?”

Published July 20,2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Oakland Charter School Approved Amid Concerns Over Fiscal Impact on District

A coalition of Oakland students, educators, parents, unions, school board members, & community orgs caravaned to Sacramento to ask the State Board of Ed to reject the Latitude charter petition from Education For Change.

By Theresa Harrington, EdSource

A California State Board of Education decision to approve a charter school over a school district’s objections laid bare the limits of the state’s charter laws.

Oakland Unified had refused to approve a charter for the proposed new Latitude 37.8 high school in part because the district faces a fiscal crisis and can’t afford to lose more students, along with the state aid that follows them when they go to charter schools.

Already, 43 charter schools operate in the city, enrolling one in four students in the Alameda County district.

The district is under pressure to cut at least $5.8 million next year and to close district schools to close its budget deficit.

“We did make a tough decision,” Oakland school board President Aimee Eng told the state board. “And we hope the state stands behind our tough decision.”

After intense discussion amid sympathy for Oakland’s situation, the state board during its meeting Thursday approved a new charter high school expected to open in the fall, based on the California Department of Education’s recommendation, which said it met all legal requirements.

The board said the state law does not allow it to consider the charter school’s financial impact on the local district.

However, Glen Price, chief deputy superintendent of the California Department of Education, said California’s charter school laws — passed in the early 1990s — were outdated and needed to be revised.

He pointed out that both the Oakland and Alameda County school boards have approved many charter schools in the past.

“But, they know that at some point, we have to consider the whole ecosystem — the whole community we’re operating in,” Price said, adding that no other local planning body would make a decision about expanding services without considering the financial impacts.

“It’s time for us to take a fresh look at policies in the state,” he said.

Some state board members struggled with the decision. State board member Ilene Straus said she understood that the Oakland school board was grappling with managing its finances and reducing the number of schools in the district.

“I think we’re stuck between wanting great things for kids, which everybody wants, and really clear guidance about what we can approve,” Straus said.

The Education for Change Public Schools charter management organization expects to open Latitude on the site of the organization’s Epic middle charter school next month in the Fruitvale area of Oakland with 50 9th-graders. It will expand to 320 students in grades 9-12 by 2022-23.

 

Published July 20,2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Council Delays Decision on Selling Public Land to Build Charter School

The Oakland school board asked the City Council not to sell the property to the charter school

Derby Street parcel

Ken Epstein

Thirty-six people were signed up to speak at this week’s City Council meeting for and against the proposed sale of public land to an out-of-state developer to build a large charter school in the Fruitvale District.

Aimee Eng

However, the council pulled the item from the agenda, indicating that they needed to talk first to the school district before selling the parcel.

“We received notice from the Oakland Unified School District that we would confer on this matter.  I think it is prudent for us to do so before undertaking action. I would ask that we defer action on this and bring it back to (the Rules Committee) for rescheduling,” said Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney.

Though councilmembers did not discuss or vote on the issue, speakers went ahead with their public comments.

Supporting the sale were children, parents, teachers and administrators of Aspire Eres Academy, a charter elementary school serving 217 students, currently located near Fremont High School in East Oakland.

Mike Hutchinson

They are seeking to build a new home for their school, which is too small and in poor physical condition.

Kimi Kean, Bay Area Superintendent at Aspire Public (Charter) Schools, said that students at Eres Academy “have waited far

too long for an acceptable facility… They need and deserve a new facility.”

She said Aspire has an ongoing working relationship with the city staff to build the school.

“We have been honored to collaborate with the City of Oakland for the last three years to develop a state of the art facility,” she said.

Opposing the sale were school activists, leaders of the Oakland teachers’ union who supported affordable housing at the site and teachers and families from district schools that would be negatively impacted if the large new charter was built near their schools, as well as the Oakland Board of Education.

Kimi Kean, Bay Area Superintendent of Aspire Public (Charter) Schools.

“I want to thank you for postponing the vote tonight,” said School Board President Aimee Eng, who summarized a resolution passed by the board on June 27 opposing the city’s sale of the land for a charter school.

“The school board does not support the sale of the property for the purpose of building an education complex that would house 620 students, which is triple the size of the current school population,” she said.

In the nearby area to the proposed school site, “there are already 18 district and charter schools, serving a similar population,” she said.  “The demographic data also does not support the need for a school this large.”

A school district analysis indicates that a high number of families in the area already go to neighborhood schools. A huge new school at that location would directly compete with existing schools in the area, she said.

Pamela Long, a veteran teacher at International Community School, said, “I support their need for a new building, but we are asking that it not be two short blocks from our thriving schools.

The land should be used for affordable housing, she said.

Bethany Meyer, a special education teacher and member of the executive board of the teachers’ union, said, “This charter school is going to take about 625 students out of the school district, which is about $7 million in lost revenue.”

“From what I am reading, the city stands to gain about $200,000 from the sale, which doesn’t seem to justify the amount of opposition you’re going to be facing,” she said.

School activist Mike Hutchinson said, “It is the not the responsibility of the City Council to sell (Aspire charter schools) public property, a parcel that was never put out to competitive bid.”
The parcel first had an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with the city in October 2015, but “there’s no record of that ENA being extended,” Hutchinson said.

The original ENA included affordable housing on this parcel, and the developer has already knocked down existing affordable housing on adjacent property to make room for this project, he said.

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