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Parent group proposes a “people’s takeover” to keep Oakland preschools open

Oakland preschool classroom. File photo by Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group

At the end of the month, if nothing changes, seven of Oakland’s childhood development centers will close their doors because of massive budget cuts threatened at the state level: Manzanita, Jefferson, Golden Gate, Santa Fe, Piedmont Avenue, Sequoia and Hintil Kuu Ca childhood development centers.

Henry Hitz, the director of Oakland Parents Together, has another idea: staff the centers with volunteers (including some laid-off teachers) until the state Legislature approves a budget with preschool funding.

“Our feeling is if we allow the centers to close, they will never reopen,” Hitz said.

If you want to learn more — and vote — on this proposal, Hitz invites you to an Oakland Parents Together meeting at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Santa Fe CDC, 5380 Adeline St. in North Oakland. School district staff will be there, he said.

Hitz said the “people’s takeover” will be a protest of state government, not the school district. “We have a pretty good sense that we can actually pull this off,” he said.

If you can’t make it to the meeting but want to help out, call Oakland Parents Together at (510) 452-9854.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Jenna

    What if a group of parents kept the centers going, applied for and got a Federal grant and educated the students better than the district?

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins

    Peter Pan Cooperative Nursery School is a parent co-operative preschool in Maxwell Park which has been operating in Oakland since 1947. It is staffed by a hired director and parent workers.

    I am proud to have been involved with Peter Pan it for three years with my younger daughter and always felt the Oakland community could benefit from more preschools of the same type. It can provide you with a model to look at as these plans are being made. http://www.peterpancoop.com/

  • anon

    I love the coop model but they are designed for families with a stay at home parent or one with a very flexible schedule AND childcare for any other child. The CDC typically do not serve this parent.

  • Becky Beane

    One reason the budget is so high for the OUSD preschool programs is due to administrative costs, unless things have changed in the last 7 years since I was there as Head teacher at one of the sites. At that time, the directors were required to have the same degree as a principal, so they got paid on that rating scale. The directors were fine folks–don’t misunderstand–but this is an area that could save the district money by not requiring this level of staffing for the director positions. There is the director of the Early Childhood Department, an assistant, staff, and highly qualified ECE people within the district who are actually more knowledgeable about operating a child care program than people with a degree in being a principal of an elementary school. Oakland has a model of ECE programs connected with the elementary schools that should be praised for its uniqueness, and the possibilities that it could provide to the children and families academically, socially and emotionally if the schools and ECE programs worked cooperatively for the benefit of all. This was being done at Hintil Kuu Ca. The children weren’t “yours” or “ours” depending on the time of day it was. They were all our children, who attended both places. Staff at Hintil participated in conferences at Munck elementary to support the child and parents. They attended all programs at Munck so that the chldren had someone to look at in the audience if their own parents couldn’t make it.
    Budgets and numbers are important, of course. But aren’t children more important? These seven preschools serve families, NOT numbers. They need to be kept open. Rearranging staffing is a possibility that might work.

  • A+ Principal

    B. Beane,
    This is one of the problems that we are facing in OUSD. Some find it necessary to diminish the hard work and effort of one job class over another. There isn’t a “principal” degree. As a principal, who has multiple years of ECE experience as well as over 15 years as a teacher and almost 13 as a principal, I wanted you to know that principals come from a variety of backgrounds with many specialities. However, you do admit that you have been away for the last seven years. In that time, you probably are not aware of the shift that ALL site administrators have made from simply overseeing the daily operations of a site to the CEO who is charged with improving student progress and with bridging the achievement gap of our most neediest learners. I consider these changes to be positive even though I work harder and longer. Please don’t simplify my work until you’ve spent one day on the job. Let’s not fight over the crumbs but be creative in finding solutions that help us to build positive learning environments for our students.

  • Miss P.

    Sounds like a great idea to me, and I would love to see it work. My experience in trying to volunteer time as a parent of a child attending one of the CDC centers, is that there is a lot of political red tape and so called policies that prevent even a parent from volunteering time in the centers. When I had the time to volunteer, I was presented with a whole list of requirements that I needed to fulfill before I could be present in the classroom. The way they were presented to me was with an undertone that it would be to much for me to handle, so don’t bother trying. I felt like the admin made an assumption that I had some type of criminal record, or something that would prevent me from meeting the requirements. The whole experience was quite daunting and surreal.

    FYI: I have no criminal history and currently work for the district, which means I passed a full background check and I have all of my shots, etc.

    So, if this proposal actually works, I will personally be quite surprised, and pleased. It will show me that in times of economic crisis, we have the power to create rules and policies that actually work for us instead of against good people who are ready and willing to give the time to our children.

  • jzmedia

    Hintil, or at least one person working for it has been engaging in Libel, at the most, unethical behavior. Hintil does need to close down.

  • jzmedia

    Becky Beane, who posted something on this site, who i heard was once a director at Hintil, is being sued for 10 Million Dollars for Libel along with the Intertribal Friendship House of Oakland.

  • jzmedia

    The above captions can be substantiated at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Case No C10-03485.