No Promise Neighborhood grant for Oakland

The U.S Department of Education today released a list of 21 communities that won planning grants to design a system of educational, social and health support services for children in poor neighborhoods.

Los Angeles and Hayward are the only two cities in California that received those Promise Neighborhood planning grants of up to $500,000. Cal State East Bay will be the lead organization in the South Hayward project, which will involve people from the city, school district, university and nonprofit sectors.

I wrote a story about Hayward’s news, which will be in tomorrow’s paper.

It doesn’t mean, for sure, that Oakland won’t have a Promise Neighborhood akin to the one created in Harlem; Superintendent Tony Smith said today, via Spokesman Troy Flint, that the city will definitely apply for the much larger implementation grants next year. But it’s probably safe to say that the districts that won the planning grants will have an edge in the second round.

“Obviously, we were very disappointed, but we are going to press on with our vision for Promise Neighborhoods,” Flint said. “We still feel that this is the best solution for these neighborhoods.”

The Peralta Community College District was the lead agency listed in Oakland’s grant application. I wonder if that — and the ethics and fiscal oversight issues reported by Matt Krupnick — worked against the city.

Just this month, at a Peralta college, our nation’s education secretary pledged to do whatever he could to help the Oakland school district transform, and he said he fully supported Superintendent Tony Smith’s vision for the district. Which, as you probably know, is to create “full-service community schools” a la Harlem Children’s Zone.

So when the list came out and Oakland wasn’t on it, Flint said, “Everybody here was a bit surprised.”

Flint said OUSD planned to look into the shortcomings of the application to see how they can become more competitive for the next round. If and when those application ratings are posted, I’ll let you know.

Katy Murphy

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

  • oakey

    Any attempt to claim a Promise-like effort in Oakland is strictly window dressing and a con.

    This is an entrenched anti-reform city with a nil chance of overcoming the hegemony of the teacher’s union in controlling the schools. I am eagerly awaiting the election of Ben Visnick to the school board, which will be icing on the cake.

  • J.R.

    By the time everyone in the OUSD bureaucracy gets their piece of this taxpayer funded pie, there won’t be much left that is useful to children. Might as well flush it because the money will be “lost” in the education system somewhere.

  • J.R.

    Also…… The education secretary is nothing more than a high paid politician who hands out someone else’s money. They tell you what you want to hear and rob you blind while doing it.

  • cranky researcher

    The Promise Neighborhood grant would not go to the district, districts aren’t eligible, so district bureacracies and unions are not central concerns. the money would go to neighborhood nonprofits that are charged to coordinate services so that money is used effectively to provide a ‘cradle to college’ set of services for every child that lives there – the same ‘services’ that every middle class child gets by virtue of their families and communities (health care, preschool, after school, college awareness by high school, etc).

  • Cheuy_Lewie



    “…OEA’s then-executive director, Peter Haberfeld, wrote on July 10, 1997, to Visnick in pertinent part as follows: Your challenge to the election reveals that you do not like the Settlement Agreement. However, please remember, OEA entered the settlement to avoid what was likely to be a lengthy, costly hearing and the potential of a humiliating ruling against OEA. The allegations by [the psychologists] which convinced the Regional Attorney to issue an Unfair Practice Complaint against OEA were statements by you and Frenchie Alford. Your remarks, if made, manifested unlawful hostility toward psychologists. Other information could have been introduced to undermine your credibility and that of Ms. Alford during a hearing. This danger raised an unacceptably high risk of an unfavorable ruling by the administrative law judge. OEA leaders were involved in a strike that resulted in litigation. They settled that litigation, like they settled the strike, effecting a compromise based on their assessment of OEA’s strengths and weaknesses. They chose not to risk exposing two key witnesses to direct and cross-examination for fear of losing the PERB case. Instead, they settled the Unfair Practice proceeding amicably in a manner designed to promote on-going, harmonious involvement of psychologists and counselors in the direction of the organization.”

  • Katy Murphy

    Right, the Promise Neighborhood grant money goes to/through nonprofits or institutions of higher education.

    “Program Description: Promise Neighborhoods, established under the legislative authority of the Fund for the Improvement of Education Program (FIE), provides funding to support eligible entities, including (1) nonprofit organizations, which may include faith-based nonprofit organizations, and (2) institutions of higher education.”

    In Hayward’s case, it’s Cal State East Bay, the lead agency. In Oakland’s case, it would have been the Peralta Community College District, whose fiscal management and oversight problems have been well documented.

  • Cheuy_Lewie

    OUSD-OEA Contract language…

    “…“Article 17.0 – Safety and Security Conditions: 17.1 The District and the Association are jointly committed to provide for the safety and security of all staff. Bargaining unit members shall not be required to work under unsafe or hazardous conditions or environments, or to perform tasks that endanger their health, safety, or well being.”

    Ultimately, the Board is responsible to ensure contract fulfillment…