I AM PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THAT WE HAVE NOW BEEN ENDORSED BY STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION TOM TORLAKSON.
Here is what one supporter wrote:
Dear Dimond Neighbors,
I am proud to say I was born and raised in Oakland. I was educated in Oakland, attending Crocker Highlands Elementary, McChesney Jr. High (now Edna Brewer), Oakland High, and Skyline High Schools before graduating in 1991 and going on to UC Berkeley. My mother was a kindergarten teacher in Oakland for 40 years. For the past nine years I have run programs for non-profit organizations at Santa Fe Elementary School and Maxwell Park Elementary School. I have worked and volunteered in Oakland’s public schools and with Oakland’s youth for the past twenty years, doing everything from running Sports4kids and after school programs to serving on school site councils and coaching soccer teams. I was an active participant at school board meetings and in the fight to stop the school closures before deciding to run for a seat on the school board. I have a passion for the education and betterment of Oakland’s youth and I highly value the role public education plays in individual lives and healthy communities. I strongly believe that every child has the right to a high quality public education and the right to achieve his or her maximum potential.
I am deeply concerned about the state of public education in Oakland. After going through eight years in state receivership, during which time we had no input on matters involving our schools, we have just completed our third year of “local control” and it seems as though the community is still being shut out of the decision making process. As a frequent participant at school board meetings I have watched as the board last year voted to close five elementary schools, cut special education funding, approve more charter schools, take away teacher’s union rights, etc.. All of these actions were taken without first engaging the community and often despite vigorous opposition. The decisions of the current school board have created great instability and a climate of fear throughout the district.
We have a chance, with November’s elections, to chart a new course and begin to fix the districts many problems. With a majority of the board’s seats up for vote, this election will decide which direction the district moves for the next four years. It is critical that everyone gets involved. We need school board members who have deep roots in Oakland and a long history of involvement in Oakland’s schools, not people who see the school board as a stepping-stone for their political career. We need school board members who have an intimate knowledge of the history and current issues of Oakland Unified School District and schools in Oakland, not people who merely state their love for Oakland’s youth. Of course we all want the best for Oakland’s youth but I also know how the district and its schools work and I have a plan of action. We cannot afford to have a school board member learn on the job, there is too much immediate work that needs to be done.
If I am elected to the Oakland School Board there are many things I want to work on to improve our district. I believe there is enough money if we reprioritize the budget. I want to limit the use of outside consultants, reduce the top heavy administration, and bring the district into compliance with the state law requiring that 55% of school funding go to the classroom. I want to fight the debt to the state and the charter school law in Sacramento. I want to help Lazear Elementary become a public school again, reduce mandated and scripted curriculum, and lower the dropout rate. Due to the current conditions in our schools there are four things that I will work on first to begin to stabilize the district.
- Re-proiritize the budget to find more resources to direct to the classroom.
- Increase enrollment by ending school closures and the expansion of charter schools.
- Facilitate true community engagement.
- Negotiate a fair contract with Oakland’s teachers.