OEA’s new online presence, and a key union vote on Tuesday

Guess what, Oakland teachers? If you haven’t noticed, your union’s website has been rescued from the 20th Century and resuscitated by Oakland High School math teacher Rori Abernethy (who has an impressive blog of her own in which she recently showcased her student’s work).

OEA members on April 29. Tribune staff photo by D. Ross CameronThe new OEA site is loaded with information about what your organization does, what your contract says, who your leaders are, how to reach them and how to get involved. It has a layoff survival guide and a pledge card for parents.

And, of course, a “Hot for Teachers” YouTube video.

If you visited the site’s Google calendar you would know — even if you haven’t heard it from your site rep — that there’s  an important meeting from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Oakland Tech where you will receive a bargaining update and vote on whether to affirm the strike authorization vote taken in May.

How will you vote? Do you feel any differently about the direction the union should take than you did in May?


White privilege, black children

Oakland Unified’s new African American male student achievement office is co-sponsoring a free workshop next week led by Shawn Ginwright, a professor of Africana Studies at San Francisco State University. It’s called Putting Racism Aside: Working Past Hidden Bias.

It’s billed on the district’s Thriving Students blog as “NOT another diversity training.” The topic is “how white privilege shows up in working with urban children and youth.” I presume “urban” means children who aren’t white.

In what ways do you observe or experience white privilege at your school, or your child’s school? Do you think this kind of training can be eye-opening for school staff? How? Do you plan to go?

Event details, from OUSD’s blog: Continue Reading


The election is over. Will OUSD’s labor lull end?

Compared to this spring, when Oakland teachers held a one-day strike, there has been relative calm this fall on the labor front. Have you noticed it, too?

It seemed as if both sides were waiting. Would Oaklanders would come forth with an infusion of cash — about $17 million a year for OUSD employees until 2021 — to save the day?

Not this time. Not enough of them, anyway. As of this morning, the Measure L parcel tax had received 65.05 percent approval; it needed 66.67 percent to pass. There are only a few thousand more votes to count, said Guy Ashley, a spokesman for the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Troy Flint, the OUSD spokesman, said he expected contract negotiations to “begin in earnest again,” now that the election results are in. (Final tally at 4 p.m. today.)

Continue Reading


Crime, punishment, grief, payback — and compassion?

So often — in life, in politics, in causes, on blogs — we end up in us-versus-them mode, so sure of the other side’s wrongness (and/or evilness) that we dehumanize them, at least to some degree.

That’s what I found so interesting about this story by my colleagues Scott Johnson and Angela Woodall. When I read the headline about the aftermath of tomorrow’s sentencing of Johannes Mehserle — which yours truly will be covering — I expected another story about merchants boarding up their shops and other signs of fear.

But that’s not what this story was about.

It opens with the perspective of Oakland Parents Together program director Kwame Nitoto, who went to a (figurative) place, he later admitted, he didn’t want to go. Here’s an excerpt from the story: Continue Reading


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.


Early results: Yee ahead, Measure L behind

Gary YeeBen Visnick

Early, mail-in results show Gary Yee with 71 percent of the vote in the Oakland school board race, and Ben Visnick with 29 percent.

Measure L, so far, is falling short of the two-thirds vote it needs to pass. It’s gotten 58 percent support.

The Tribune’s website will have charts and percentages for local and state races. They should be online soon.

For Measure L, the Oakland school board race, Oakland Mayor’s race and everything else in Alameda County, click here: http://bit.ly/AlaRaces

To see if we’ll have legalized marijuana in CA or any other changes the latest propositions might bring us, click here: http://bit.ly/CAProp

For state races, click here: http://bit.ly/CAState


Another superhero: Measure L man!

You might have seen him yesterday at the Temescal Farmer’s Market, at the Rockridge Halloween parade or — if you live in Trestle Glen — trick-or-treating with his kids. Measure L man tells me he found a number of people who didn’t know much about the $195 Oakland schools parcel tax measure, but I’m sure he fixed that. After all, “fighting cuts to your public schools” is his middle name.

Are you voting for Measure L?

Measure L Man (aka Peter Fiske). Courtesy photo.


Mack students campaign against Prop. 23

Through the Oaktown Teen Times, an award-winning Oakland student newspaper, I found this video of McClymonds High School students — who have been active in West Oakland air quality issues — taking a stand against Proposition 23. If the state ballot measure passes tomorrow, the implementation of California’s landmark global warming legislation will be suspended. The air pollution law, which Gov. Schwarzenegger signed in 2006, requires companies to report and reduce major greenhouse gas emissions.


Funding, by popularity contest

Here’s another election story for you:

Oakland International High School is one of 15 finalists nationwide competing for money from Microsoft. If you vote for the North Oakland school (early and often), it might win funding for music and technology equipment.

People can vote once per day through Sunday for their five favorites. The school with the most votes wins $100,000. Three others win $50,000 each. Oakland International is the only California school among the 15 finalists.

This sort of popularity contest seems to be everywhere lately. Continue Reading