They always have and they still do.
Before the elections, we said “vote like kids’ lives depend on it.” The results are in (more or less) and it’s now time for our elected officials to step up. We now have a new OUSD Board and new City Council. Oakland will be in the national spotlight for the next four plus years as the birthplace of our incoming Vice-President.
Although the political landscape has shifted, the need to dramatically improve Oakland public education, especially for our Black and Brown children, has never been greater. But it’s going to be hard:
So here’s my open letter to the newly elected local leaders: Please govern like kids’ lives depend on it, because they do. Specifically:
Foster Collective Responsibility
Oakland is a small city. We’re all in this together: children, parents, teachers, community, labor, businesses- everyone. We need to come together, set aside election-exacerbated differences, and solve some problems. It will take listening with an open mind to people with different experiences. Oaklanders’ boundless ingenuity will produce creative solutions; it will take doggedness over years to implement them well. To borrow and adapt a popular Biden victory quotes: We need people who will govern not for district parents, or for charter parents, but for Oakland parents. Home-grown Superintendent Kyla Johnson Trammell has launched a new strategic planning process and asked for community input – let’s get behind her, help shape it and then help do it.
Be Good Fiscal Stewards
Let’s be honest: budget cuts are coming our way. No amount of rhetoric is going to change the facts. Alas, Oakland has a lot more experience with fiscal mismanagement than it does with good fiscal stewardship. We need true budget transparency and an honest discussion about how much it’s going to cost to provide the education all kids deserve.
Focus on Literacy
We spend a lot of time in Oakland fighting about things that sound good but don’t translate into improved learning for students. Meanwhile the abysmal literacy in rates in our city are a travesty that undermine all the claims we make about equity. The saddest thing is we know what to do: use structured literacy in early grades, use high-quality instructional materials in all grades, and support teachers with aligned professional development and good data. But, we get distracted by debates over other needs and issues. Literacy is liberation for our children, and we need to get focused on it!
What do you think? Where do you think we go from here? We’ll be part of the many post-election conversations, focusing on Oakland public education, and hope you will join us.