No one’s running for school board!

OK, they have until 5 p.m. Friday to make their candidacy official, so there’s probably no need to panic just yet. But as your trusty source for Oakland school news, I feel you should know that as of a few minutes ago, not a single person had filed in any of the three Oakland school board races (Districts 2, 4, or 6).

Not even the (would-be) incumbents.

The person I spoke with at the clerk’s office said candidates often wait until the last week to tell the world that they’re running for office, but that this was pretty unusual. Maybe no one wants to be an Oakland school board member right now — and who could blame them, really?

School board member David Kakishiba and Jose Rocha, a pre-admissions counselor for Cal State East Bay, pulled papers for District 2, but Rocha tells me that because of an “unforeseen reason,” he’s no longer planning to run.

Kakishiba says he does plan to file on Friday, and that his timing was a case of “complete procrastination.”

School board member Gary Yee and Ben Visnick, a former Oakland teachers union president, have pulled papers for District 4, and board member Chris Dobbins has done so for District 6.

I’d be surprised if any of them didn’t run. Either way, I’ll let you know.

Katy Murphy

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

  • harlemmoon

    This is actually good news.
    No one is truly minding the store anyway. Let Steve Jubb have at it.

  • oakey

    I’m sure the union will get someone on the ballot so they can continue to control their own contracts, and avoid reform at any cost.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Oakey seems to imagine “the union” as a sort of omnipowerful secret society, kind of like C.O.B.R.A. from G.I. Joe.

    Here’s the real deal: Teachers quit often because the job is hard, if you do it right, and low-paid. Few people run for school board because it is hard, if you do it right, and comes with a microscopic stipend.

    But keep living in fantasyland.

    Or why don’t you run for school board?

  • CarolineSF

    Like the Stonecutters:

    Who controls the British crown?
    Who keeps the metric system down?
    We do! We do!

    Karl: Who leaves Atlantis off the maps?
    Lenny: Who keeps the Martians under wraps?
    Alien: We do! We do!

    Gotta run and rig the Oscars now.

  • Max Allstadt

    School Board is a rather prestigious position, so it boggles my mind that nobody’s running against Chris Dobbins.

    How easy would it be to win a race against an OUSD School Board Member who got caught dating a student? It’s like a freebie. You’re slogan could be something like “Vote for me, I didn’t get caught dating a student.”

  • harlemmoon


    All jokes aside, I think there’s a great story here.

    Oakland is a major city in a major state. That there are only a handful of school board challengers- meaning some undeserving board members will return to their seats in a cakewalk – is a good reason to ask a very obvious question: Why.

    And based on the responses to that question (the quality of the candidates and incumbents is another story), one is lead to wonder what this really means for the OUSD. Are we looking at the beginning of the end of the district? Is apathy the bullet that will finally put the district out of its misery?

  • Steven Weinberg

    It appears to me that it is not very hard to figure out why there are so few candidates for Oakland School Board this year. First it is a job that pays very little for many hours of work, not just the Board and committee meetings, but appearances at many school functions each month. Secondly, Board Members receive almost no public praise for their service–just look over the last few years’ postings on this blog. Members are criticized for what they do, what they fail to do, and some times for things people only imagine they have done. Finally, we are in a time of fiscal austerity. Painful and unpopular cutbacks are going to have to be made. Is it surprising that people are not rushing to take on that burden?
    All four of the present candidates have given huge amounts of their time to improve the Oakland Unified School District, and they all deserve our thanks for that. Perhaps if we all spent as much time thanking our board members when we feel they have taken the right action as we do attacking them when they do something we don’t agree with, it would be easier to find more citizens willing to run.

  • Hot R

    I agree with Harlemmoon, and am amused by CarolineSF…

    When the Russian Bolsheviks finally took over from the Kerensky provisional government in 1917, the heroic film of their storming of the Winter Palace was entirely faked, because by that time no one actually cared. War, failure, and inept leadership from both the Czar and the liberals bred mass apathy except among the dedicated Bolshevik party members. When regimes are corrupt from within they collapse under their own weight. This is the fate of the OUSD.

    Compare this to the neighboring city of Alameda, where conservatives will attempt to oust 3 school board members who they claim need to go because they dared to put the (failed)parcel tax on the ballot and instituted an elementary school class to teach children not to gay bash or bully LGBT students and their families. The mail in parcel tax vote produced the largest Alameda turnout since the Obama election – 4,000 more than the general election two weeks before.

    As teachers know, parental involvement is a key factor in the success of children in schools. Looks to me like the adults don’t care.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Hot R:

    A couple of points in regard to what you wrote.

    Steve wrote about the Oakland School Board and suggested that lack of candidates was understandable because of the abuse that comes with the job.

    However, I believe you strayed from Steve’s point when you made, however an important point regarding Alameda’s turnout in an off year, non-presidential election year exceeding its electorate turn out in the Obama election year. A high off-year election turnout rarely happens. And, a high turnout usually means a parcel tax passes.

    Perhaps the reason that the Alameda turnout exceeded the Obama election turnout was because the Obama election was a combination of both turnout at the polls and mail in ballots; whereas, Alameda’s off-year election was solely a mail in ballot. Then consider that in a match between race and sex, sex as a hot-button issues was more motivating.

    There I go straying from the topic of too few candidates running for Oakland School Board.

    I believe years of alienation of the public from participation in local school board governance was marginally were the fault of the state take-over as there was only a few examples of school board incumbents being turned out in elections prior to the state take-over.

    Democratic governance in Ancient Greece fell to the oligarchies. And, perhaps it is the natural evolutionary order that in a democracy its citizen treat the responsibility to govern as a hot potato and not a duty and collective commitment to self-governing. Do the sons and daughters of the French Revolution today still call each other “citizen”?

    “Citizenship” when I was a school age child was taught as a duty and responsibility. We had classroom and school wide elections where we were taught and practiced self-government.

    Neither in the home, the school, or the media is heard the words citizen, responsibility, duty. Perhaps, their absence has also marginally to do with the sad state of a large urban city such as Oakland being infected with a bad case of apathy toward government service.

    The ideal of a government by the people and for the people is not nurtured by the fact Oakland had three school board seats up for election but only one of the seats has a person running in opposition.

    Finally, if all citizens of this Republic do not feel a responsibility, a duty to serve in the role of governance, then those running for elective office will have to face down an army of apathy that believes voting is not their duty or responsbility.

    And, it is undermining of self-government that today the duty of citizenship as motivation for running for political office is passe.

    Jim Mordecai