Don’t count out Measure L!

UPDATE: With all of the precincts in, Measure L had 65.2 percent voter approval, about 1 1/2 points short of what it needs to pass. There are still more mail-in and provisional votes to count, though. Two years ago, Alice Spearman avoided a runoff as a result of a late boost she got through the final tally.


Initial results showed 58 percent approval of the Oakland school parcel tax, about 9 points shy of the two-thirds vote required.

But each time new precinct numbers have come in, that percentage has risen. Measure L had won 64.45 percent of the vote as of 12:09 a.m., with more than 70 percent of the precincts in. That’s a little more than two points short of what it needs to pass.

“It’s exciting. We’re trending upward,” Peter Fiske, a campaign volunteer also known as Measure L Man, told me a few minutes ago (before the percentage jumped again, twice). “Clearing the two-thirds hurdle is always a challenge in California, but we’re hopeful.”


Not much has changed in the District 4 school board race between Gary Yee and Ben Visnick. As of midnight, Yee had 69 percent of the vote.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Kitty

    It’s over and Measure L has, thankfully, been defeated. Until there is a comprehensive effort to measure the performance of our teachers, please don’t ask for any more money. Performance standards for measuring teacher competence is no longer the electric third rail in any discussion of compensation – it’s the central theme from this point forward. Poor performers don’t deserve a raise and outstanding performers have no reason to object to being asked to demonstrate their ability.

  • Katy Murphy

    Actually, it’s not quite over yet. I just talked to Guy Ashley at the AC Registar of Voters and he said it’s too early to call an election this close. There are still thousands of provisional ballots throughout the county (will have an Oakland count later), and they are just starting to count the vote-by-mail ballots that were dropped off yesterday at the polling places.

    He said it might be three days before we know if Measure L passed.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    To win, the measure would need 3,099 net additional yes votes. And, obviously, if it gets any no votes from the provisional ballots, it needs additional yes votes totaling twice the number of no votes to pass.

    3,099 votes is 4.3 percent of the total votes cast so far in this election. That’s an enormous turnaround to put on provisional ballots.

    Absent outright fraud, the election is over.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Those who read the election results as showing a move toward the so-called reform agenda (performance pay, charter expansion, reliance on standardized testing, etc.) are letting their own biases color reality. California and Oakland voters have shown considerable confidence in their teachers (and the teacher’s union) view of education. Torlakson and Brown won with CTA endorsements against opponents who supported the so-called “reforms.” Far more than half the Oakland voters supported Measure L, and at least some of those who voted No opposed it because it mentioned “effective teachers” which they saw as a code word for performance pay. Moving toward performance pay would probably not help pass such a tax.
    Before I am accused of letting my biases warp my analysis, let me add that CTA’s influence fails when it has made an effort to raise taxes state-wide. It is clear that the voters of California are not supportive of anything that will raise taxes at this time.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    Oh and let me say, I never put fraud past big-city officials. So in that sense, the election continues!

  • TheTruthHurts

    All this bickering seems silly. The bottom line (TRUTH) is nearly two-thirds of Oaklanders wanted to provide more money for teacher compensation on the basis written in the measure. It is probably defeated because one-third of people didn’t want it for whatever their reasoning – charters, performance pay or just that they don’t have the money to pay it.

    Let’s be clear. The losers are the children. Oakland will have less money to recruit and retain excellent teachers, less money to provide help for those teachers, less ability to pay a living wage. That is the bottom-line without all the political positioning.

    Now, there are those who will correctly say, OUSD must do better with what it has. They’re right. But, they are foolish if they think that will make up for $15 million a year in a state that is broke and uses witchcraft to create its budgets. Those who think Brown, Torlakson, Newsom and company are going to solve CA’s budget issues don’t understand the depth of the problem.

    To me the message is most Oaklanders (by a larger margin than any race except Yee over Visnick) feel like schools deserve more funding and are willing to pay for it. They want the schools to move forward and are at least cautiously behind that effort. Given the political silence of the actual group that was to benefit, that’s a significant statement.

  • Nextset

    Education budgets are about to be cut sharply.

    Without a Federal bailout of CA that is not going to happen (Republican house not likely to give CA a thing) – CA democratic party is going to have to cut slices on a smaller pie. The longer they wait to make changes the worse it’s going to be. The good news is that the budget can be set with little opposition by a simple majority. Jerry Brown will be the budget. No more Republican veto power over the budget. The bad news is that the revenue streams are damned up – all Brown can do is sell more assets, faster.

    (I predict) You will soon enough see discussion on the closure of some of the state’s law schools – and other grad schools – be it temporary or permanent. Ditto whole sections of University of CA. The tuition increases have held that off, but they will soon reach the outer limits of what the market will bear) Furloughs won’t begin to be enough, it will be necessary to outsource, close and consolidate state offices and state functions. As far as secondary education – I see the elimination of mandatory education by 10th grade or some kind of sea change. Without that, you are going to see the public school districts watered down to the point of not even pretending to “educate” as they do now. Brown & Co will come to a point that they don’t want to try to cover “students” that won’t graduate anyway and can’t (learn to) read, at the cost of wiping out the primary schools or something else they want to save. He will decide who and what goes overboard and will have the clout to enforce his decision.

    2011 is going to be a fantastic year. And watching Jerry Brown rather than Meg Whitman do all these things will be something to see. I hope his health holds up for this aggravation. He does have the personality to deal with it though.

    Watch how the Public Ivy’s manage to protect themselves in this. Do you think Piedmont High will cut like Castlemont? Will local municipalities such as Bellmont or Beverly Hills subsidize their trophy High Schools? Are some people more equal than others?


  • Kitty

    @Steven Weinberg said “Far more than half the Oakland voters supported Measure L”

    Yes, Steven, and the “one third plus” required to defeat Measure L opposed it. Close only counts in horseshoes. I will continue to oppose additional funding until there are measurable performance standards for teachers. Like the rest of us, OUSD is going to have to accept that pay raises aren’t a given – they need to be earned — and living within one’s means is the order of the day. OUSD will have to set new priorities and make do with what it has unless and until it can make a more compelling case for more tax dollars than it has to date. Maybe they should consider cutting Administrative costs?

    The language justifying the Measure claimed that the tax was necessary in order to make up a $10 million per year budget shortfall in the OUSD budget. Yet, if passed, Measure L would have cost the taxpayers $20 million per year. What were the plans for the extra $10 million raised by Measure L? And, what exactly were the plans for the 20% of those revenues not slated for teacher’s salaries?

  • JR

    “What were the plans for the extra $10 million raised by Measure L? And, what exactly were the plans for the 20% of those revenues not slated for teacher’s salaries”?

    Good questions Kitty, the school system is such a large nebulous entity that it’s like the tax money just enters a black hole.

  • seenitbefore

    “the school system is such a large nebulous entity that it’s like the tax money just enters a black hole.”

    And how is THIS the fault of TEACHERS????????

    I agree that there is waste and misuse of funds in the school system. However, paying the teachers LESS and blaming them for every negative aspect of the system won’t change that.

    Grandpa used to say that “a fish rots from the head down.” The financial problems in Oakland stem from gross misuse of funds in purchasing packaged curriculum programs such as Open Court, Si Swun, etc.. that teachers are then forced to use in their classrooms. Add to that the thousands of highly paid CONSULTANTS and their ridiculous “professional development” sessions to tell the teachers what they MUST do in their classrooms. And top it off with excessive administrative personnel who spend NO TIME in the classroom and are paid upwards of 100,00 – 250,000 per year.

    AFter ALL of those MILLIONS of dollars are gone…… then the teachers are supposed to go out and buy their own supplies for the kids in their classrooms, have no time to plan or collaborate with their fellow teachers and of course are blamed when the kids don’t learn anything from the packaged programs and their test scores remain low.

    I am sooooo sick of the Oakland Teacher Bashing Crowd on here.

  • Kitty

    @seenitbefore: You can be as outraged as you want about just about any aspect of this issue but when you drag in all kinds of red herrings you don’t do teachers a service. The people who are being asked to pay for this have an ABSOLUTE RIGHT to ask questions about where the money will be spent and why it’s needed. Slapping taxpayers in the face and spitting in their eyes in not the way to get the funding you want. Answering legitimate questions honestly is.

  • JR

    I don’t know if you missed it but, there are more things wrong with the school system than incompetent teachers. The layered bureaucracy of the education system is a black hole with its own gravitational pull. I have posted numerous times about administrative waste from the dept of education on down the line, people that really serve no useful purpose except to take up space and shuffle some papers.If that is not bad enough there is so much redundancy in every district that should and could be consolidated(from the superintendents on down).

  • Harold

    Measure L was concocted by your new Superintendent Mr. Tony Smith. Interesting how no one here is complaining about the Administration and School Board asking for this parcel tax. Just more Teacher bashing …

    OEA – took no opinion on the matter.

  • oakie

    Steven Weinberg Says: “Those who read the election results as showing a move toward the so-called reform agenda (performance pay, charter expansion, reliance on standardized testing, etc.) are letting their own biases color reality. California and Oakland voters have shown considerable confidence in their teachers (and the teacher’s union) view of education.”

    I think you’re right. California is a laggard now. Not just in the school reform movement, but even pot legalization polls show California with a lower rate of approval for legalization than the other 49 states. This month’s Atlantic (you DO read the Atlantic, don’t you, dear reader?) has one of their 100 profiles of the Rhode Island head of schools. Can you imagine? And this person is a hot goddess of reform like Rhee.

    Rhode Island is in the forefront, and California’s school systems are still stomping their feet, proposing things like Measure L, demanding more money but not an iota of performance evaluation of teachers, firing the incompetents, and generally knocking out the dead wood that litters the adult employment in the school system.

    It is very disappointing that nearly 2/3 of the voters in this system think the answer is to give the system more money (I am equally disgusted in the approval of BB, demonstrating that a city which steals money for something they don’t deliver and have to be taken to court to stop it, then the votes simply give them the money carte blanche anyway).

    Whew, what a disaster this state and city specifically has become. As they say, stick a fork in it’s a$$, it’s done.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Sure Oakie, I have my copy of the Atlantic right here. I hope you read page 92 Diane Ravitch in addition to page 97 on Deborah Gist. Gist made the list by dramatically trying to fire an entire teaching staff, a move she later rescinded. Ravitch made the list due to her “sharp writing and mastery of history.” I cast my vote with Diane.
    Now if we want to model ourselves on another state, I would suggest Massachusetts and not Rhode Island. A chart in this week’s Education Week shows that Rhode Island 4th graders rank barely ahead of California’s in math scores based on international common standards (34% proficient v. 29%), while Massachusetts is far ahead with 63% proficient. Of course, Massachusetts spends $14,355 per student per year and California only spends $9,774. Massachusetts also directs much more of its funds to schools with higher poverty rates ($2,300 more), while California barely gives high poverty schools any additional resources ($300).

  • Pingback: Don’t count out Measure L! The Education Report « Parents 4 democratic Schools()

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    More votes have been posted on the ROV site, and Measure L is now losing by more, not less. It’s over.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    By the way, Harold, no one would complain about OEA, since they did take no position on Measure L, if the reason had been that they felt citizens were taxed enough for a bad school system.

    In fact, the OEA took no position because they petulantly didn’t like the fact that some of the money would go to charter schools where OEA doesn’t control the teachers.

  • JR

    OEA took no position, because the last time they did, they ended up looking foolish and petulant. It’s just a PR move and nothing more.

  • harold

    We were against the last (school) parcel tax. WTF! No matter what position we take *some* folks will only complain.

    You should be thankful that OEA is against giving money to charter schools, who have less accountability than traditional schools.

  • harold

    all-day Teacher bashing … all of you forget that Tony Smith and The School Board, are behind Measure L.

    Maybe we need a new Superintendent and School Board?

    Teachers do not control the OUSD budget.

    The above mentioned do!

  • JR

    Do you even know WHY the union was against it? Do I have to find the exact quote of the union president who said she was against the last tax measure because charter schools would get some of the money, and that was the reason. Harold, I have to ask you, “are you a deficient teacher”? If not why do you care if bad teachers are being scrutinized? You have selective understanding, taxpayers are tired of people who are paid with tax money to be minimalist, complainers, whiners,lazy, self absorbed, petulant and arrogant. BTW Muni drivers just got a nice slap into reality. My advice, be very happy that you do not have to actually go out and prove yourself each and every day to “make” money. To have to actually show results, and be able to stand behind your work, and be responsible for it. You have it pretty good, so be happy with that good fortune and crawl down off that cross.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss


    Tenure after 2 or 3 years equals no accountability. End of story.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    The school district should put up a tax that *only* goes to charter schools. Now that’s something I could get behind.

  • harold

    … still waiting …

  • harold

    @ The Boss


    we have one of these charter schools in North Oakland.

  • Jim Mordecai

    I agree with posting #24, putting on the ballot parcel tax only for charter schools and giving the voters of Oakland the opportunity to weigh in on whether or not they want to support Oakland charter schools by taxing Oakland property owners.

    Measure L did not provide an opportunity for Oakland voters to vote charters up or down as Measure L mixed funding public schools with funding corporate charter schools.

    In fact, the summary of Measure L in the voters’ pamphlet did not include the fact that money would fund charter schools. Voters would need to read the complete text to learn that they were funding charter schools.

    As Oakland voters were not given the opportunity to vote up or down charter schools California voters were never provide an opportunity to vote up or down funding corporate charter schools.

    And, when San Francisco passed it most recent parcel tax for public schools money was included for charter school teachers. The choice supporters of San Francisco public schools had was to including charter schools or the big money types supporting charter schools would oppose passage with their financing. Those wanting to support the public schools did not want to fight big bucks supporter of corporate charter schools and instead of money in opposition to their parcel tax, they received big buck support and subsequently victory.

    Supporters of corporate charter schools will point out that charter schools are public schools and they are right. But, as a square is a rectangle all rectangles are not squares. And, all public schools are not corporate public schools. A major difference of a corporate public school is that it need not be democratic, or by law be transparent but all other public schools are suppose to be both democratic and transparent.

    Jim Mordecai

  • JR

    “A major difference of a corporate public school is that it need not be democratic, or by law be transparent but all other public schools are suppose to be both democratic and transparent”.

    I am not a charter school supporter per se, but I do like some of their ideas and mechanisms

    1. The ability to hire, fire teachers of their choice without union interference.

    2. The ability to insist upon some type of parental involvement, and better discipline policy.

    3. The ability to teach what works, and not be saddled with tests.

    There is nothing democratic about the “last hired first fired” policy, seniority bumping or preference policies. There is nothing democratic about principals not getting to choose their own staff(within reason)or having to engage in the farcical “dance of the lemons” The only fair, democratic, and right thing is for policies to be based on merit alone.

  • JR

    More people need to know about the unions, and their tactics. Money corrupts absolutely.


  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    Harold –

    You union guys really are evil. You basically combine the worst elements of Republican fear mongering and the Democrat gimme-more mentality.

  • harold


    Facts are facts.

  • Donna

    So, if unions are so evil, are you saying that in affluent communities like Piedmont and Lamorinda where students test well, etc. that the teachers are NOT unionized? And since charter school teachers are not unionized, why don’t charter school kids as a WHOLE fail to do better than their public school counterparts? Unions as a whole make for a convenient bogeyman.

    I don’t see how any teacher, even the most talented one, can effectively teach each and every child in a classroom with 30+ kids who are at five different grade levels. I doubt kids in affluent suburbs are at that many grade levels in a single classroom.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    Harold –

    Your motives are so obvious that it’s not worth arguing with you about this. Teachers unions don’t actually care about student achievement. They care about keeping power over the relationship between teachers and the government. That’s it. That’s why they oppose charters. Everything else is just made up fluff to hide the real reason.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    Donna –

    1. Piedmont and Lamorinda kids do well because the kids come from high-income, high-IQ backgrounds. this makes the job of teaching them far easier.

    2. Charter school kids as a whole fail to do better because most charter schools don’t follow the formulas which have been shown to work much better than standard public schools. Also, keep in mind that charter schools start out at a disadvantage because of the drumbeat of union shills like you fighting them at every step.

    3. You don’t see how a teacher can succeed in that environment? How about watching Waiting For Superman. Maybe you should educate yourself about inner-city charter school systems that are consistently very successful. That’s your answer right there. This is not a mystery.

  • JR

    Simply that unions do not help anyone except teachers, and they have created an atmosphere(through force of law and backroom bargaining)that have kept substandard teachers in class where they should not be. I have been told by teachers that teaching in affluent communities is easier(copy queens, correcting queens, PTA’s with money for supplies). This is not about bogeymen, this is about public funding being diverted from its intended purpose(cut and dried). We pay taxes for the benefit of our children, and that is where the money belongs, not influencing politics or wealth-building for union honchos,or administrative paper pushers.

  • JR

    These union vultures have perpetrated a legalized shakedown on taxpayers in perpetuity(with bought and paid for politicians).


    I guess this guy just loves kids(or their parents money rather).

  • Ms. J.

    Hmmm, I thought we had been asked to refrain from name calling on this blog. “Complainers, whiners, lazy, self absorbed, petulant, and arrogant”–sounds pretty much like name calling to me. Not to mention personal attacks–“You union guys really are evil.”

    And on the subject of charters:
    A pretty comprehensive rebuttal of WFS by Diane Ravitch, in which she reiterates the fact (missed somehow by many apparently willfully ignorant people) that research in more than one study shows that only one in five charter schools is successful. Do tax payers want to support all of those failing charter schools, which are even less accountable than truly public schools, just out of spite against unions?

    I am reminded by the angry postings above of the doodle of a man whom Virginia Woolf finds herself sketching while writing A Room of One’s Own. She stops and wonders why he is so furious. She has certain conclusions about it. I wonder if the people who are so vitriolic in their campaigns against teachers and unions understand their own loathing?

  • Alice Spearman

    OUSD has lost so much funding in the past year, there was a need to ask the voters if they would approve and pass another parcel tax. The fact is, when the citizens were polled, the results showed the tax would be considered more favorable if we included teacher and charteers in the request, but the whole intent of the tax was to raise more money to hire more support staff, (school security officers, custodians, site secretaries)not teachers, (however the union executive board decided to be neutral becbause btbhey would recieve some of the funding) which this district really needs. The Board decided to let the voters decide. The results are what they are.
    P.S. I think the citizens knew who they wanted as their board representative in my election in which I had 2 contenders.I respect the voters in District 7, they support me also!

  • Alice Spearman

    Excuse the typos, I need to clean my keyboard, it is sticking, sorry

  • JR

    Mrs. J
    Once again, this is criticism of “sub-standard teachers”, and “the union” that enables them. I know through your union propaganda(influence you can see, just watch Ms.Weingarten in action on Youtube) you see all teachers as brothers and sisters, but you need to realize that the teachers who don’t pull their own weight hurt all of you teachers. You are losing the professional respect that you once had, because you refuse to do what is best for the children first and foremost, and their parents who also happen to be the taxpayers. If you cannot divorce yourself from the inept people in your profession then that is your personal choice to live with.

  • harold

    They won’t answer Donna … they know that unions in affluent areas, don’t hurt student achievement. Its not the union, it’s the students in *some* urban areas, that are more challenging to educate.

    Thankfully, none of the union-bashers on this forum have a say in the matter.

    How many of the complainers are (property owners) in Oakland? I am. And I voted against Measure L.

  • JR

    One thing you remain woefully ignorant of is the fact that the public school system is broken, whether charters are better is irrelevant, charters are testing labs where new ideas and processes are put into practice, and they only gained a foothold because the public schools were lacking. I like some of the charter ideas, and some I don’t(enumerated in my post above). Being like a petulant child on the playground and exclaiming “well charters are bad too” is not going to accomplish anything. As far as testing determining good/bad teachers is a farce and a deceptive lie. Anyone with any common sense would expect that you would need multiple criteria(tests,homework,lesson plan book relevance and more)to make such a determination.

  • JR

    “Hmmm, I thought we had been asked to refrain from name calling on this blog. “Complainers, whiners, lazy, self absorbed, petulant, and arrogant”–sounds pretty much like name calling to me”.

    WHY, are you any of those things? You do know what proper context is do you not? The statement was that taxpayers are tired of do not want to pay for people like that, and that is true. If you worked a job that requires production, you wouldn’t want to pay for “substandard people” either.

  • Public School Teacher

    Please, let’s maintain civility on this blog.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    Harold –

    I did answer Donna point by point. I agree that unions don’t do much harm in areas like Piedmont. This is largely because the kids would probably do well no matter what the teaching situation.

    I’m glad you voted no on Measure L. Good for you.

    And, you’re wrong that people on this board can’t affect the situation. My kids will never go to public school. That’s 1/10 of a union teacher billet gone because of me.

  • Ms. J.

    I did not say that you were calling ME names, JR (and BTW, it’s MS. J.–though you probably hate feminists too), I said you were calling names. Believe it or not, your opinion of me (whom you do not know) does not matter to me. Your ceaseless bile against my colleagues does offend me. I do understand what context is, and thank you very much for your sarcastic inquiry. The context of your remarks was a discussion about a ballot measure, but it doesn’t seem to matter what the context is-you turn it into an attack on teachers and unions, which you then deny is an attack.
    Public School Teacher–forget about civility.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Thanks Ms J (and the others) who take the time to write thoughtful posts defending teachers. I no longer have the patience for it and am still wondering when did teachers become so hated?

    I voted against Measure L because of mostly personal reasons (and I am sure I would be judged “highly effective” for whatever that is worth), but one of my reasons for voting against it was that it was uncomfortable for me to vote for something that could benefit myself directly monetarily, when so many people hate teachers these days. I have been heartened by hearing about people who still believe we need to give more money to schools, and still believe the community needs to get behind the schools and the teachers. Thank you.

  • http://www.eastbayconservative.com The Boss

    OT –

    No one “hates” teachers. That’s not the problem. People are concerned about the work rules that have come out of union negotiations — stuff like tenure after 2 or 3 years. I still don’t even understand why a 1st grade teacher needs tenure.

    And, I think most people realize that school quality largely follows demographics. That’s why Oakland schools have improved of late — it’s gentrification.

    People are tired of being pushed around by public-employee unions. They realize the same thing you appear to realize — namely that there is an element of self-dealing when a union spends millions to convince voters to pay members of that very union more money.

  • JR

    Just so everyone knows, I voted yes on taxes for schools, because the kids need it, and most teachers deserve the help.

  • JR

    You should be more accurate, that is an attack on “Bad”, and “substandard” teachers. I hope that is perfectly clear. I have a lot of good friends who are very fine teachers, some are even great. We are very fortunate to have them. So when you say attack remember… context….context….context.