After decades of fiscal challenges, it’s time for a change. We need leadership on our school board that understands the everyday reality our students, families and caregivers experience. I’m running to change the narrative that public education is a broken system that can’t be fixed. When all students, teachers, and education workers benefit equally from well managed district resources, quality public education is achievable.
I am an authentic parent voice who can get the job done. I am the only candidate who actively organizes families to increase investments in education. I have organized and won budget campaigns in our county and at the state capitol.
I have worked on important family-centered legislative victories that have improved the lives of thousands of children. But, most important, I have a child who currently attends public school in Oakland. I will center on racial justice and inclusion of children with special needs as I work to make our youth feel safe and supported. I will make sure that teachers and other school employees have the resources, respect, and tools they need to nurture students to succeed .
Fiscal Transparency and Management
Fiscal management and institutional solvency are immense challenges facing our school district. The lack of budget literacy and cohesion on our school board has created instability. As a leader, I will prioritize a participatory budget process. I will expedite fair labor contract negotiations that reflect the economic challenges teachers face in our high-cost city, while empowering teachers to participate in curriculum development rather than outsourcing to private consultants, foundations, and firms. We must also:
- Redirect funding from programs that have not shown significant impacts, particularly for high-need youth, into more one-on-one support from teachers, including librarians, counselors, and early educators.
- Adopt a moratorium on new charter schools. Our district cannot afford new charter schools when it is struggling to maintain our current system. This is smart fiscal management.
- Strengthen oversight and accountability from existing charter schools: Ensure that charter schools pay their fair share for space and other district resources.
- Continue demanding forgiveness of OUSD’s debt to the state, which grew dramatically under state receivership.
- Greater district accountability through independent audits, focusing on specific analysis of programs, spending and distribution of public dollars.
As the parent of a child who needs accommodations to learn, I understand deeply how early intervention for exceptional learners – across the spectrum of needs – must be well-resourced and supported. This is a place of inequity and injustice that must be solved. Not through lawyers, but by strong collaboration amongst the district, special educators, parents and youth.
Charter schools serve far too few children with learning differences, developmental delays, and those who require daily medical attention. This leaves students with the greatest needs overrepresented in district schools. We must challenge our charter partners to enroll a proportionate share of high-need students and to participate in the OUSD Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA). In both district and charter schools, we must avoid segregating students who have multiple challenges.
Quality Education: Community Schools
In my vision of the future, every school site will meet the needs of its students, staff, and families. Sites will have the resources necessary to build community-designed programs, and families will shape each school’s culture and climate. Safe crossing zones will be in place for all students walking or riding bikes; responsive wrap-around services will be available and restorative justice practices that include strong mentorship for young people will be offered. These truly full-service public schools will draw families back into the public system, increasing enrollment and, thus, resources for our neighborhood school sites.
Strong early education programs will prepare children for kindergarten and provide developmental health screenings for all Oakland families, regardless of income. Every child will have full access to the building blocks of education.
I will work to ensure that district facilities are well-maintained and environmentally sound for all students and teachers. We must build policies that protect students in any event or crisis through community outreach, education and support.
Adult education (in particular ESL classes) should be made easily accessible to parents, no matter where their children attend school.
Collaboration and Community Solutions
Although separate jurisdictions, the City of Oakland and OUSD must learn to be better partners and communicators in order to strengthen schools and communities.
I will expand communication with Councilmembers, particularly former school board directors and the new District 4 Councilmember, while working to revive the dormant Joint Education Committee (which hasn’t met in two years).
District 4 abounds with vibrant community and neighborhood organizations that I will work with closely to improve OUSD schools. These organizations can serve as a mechanism through which Oakland residents can participate in making school programs better. Through learning and community involvement, I will work to rejuvenate school-neighborhood connections, so that every District 4 school is the pride of its community.