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Group aims to recall five OUSD board members

In Oakland, recall is in the air.

As some citizens collect signatures to recall Mayor Jean Quan, another group named Concerned Parents and Community Coalition is trying to oust five of the seven Oakland school board directors. It’s targeting those who voted `yes’ on the proposal this fall to close elementary schools: Jody London, David Kakishiba, Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Gary Yee, and Chris Dobbins.

The school board meets tonight, and members of the coalition planned to march to the district office from nearby Laney College at 4 p.m. and present the directors with intent to gather signatures for a recall. Our photographer went out there around 4:30 p.m. and found about six people, not counting reporters.

(7:15 p.m. UPDATE: More supporters have packed the board room. Board President Jody London turned off the mic after Joel Velasquez, of Concerned Parents, went over the time limit. London later called a recess as he continued to speak, with the help of supporters, in Occupy “mic-check” fashion. People then began chanting “Stop closing schools!” and “Recall!”)

The closures of Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe elementary schools were the impetus behind this effort. Joel Velasquez, a Lakeview dad, was listed as the contact on a news release that was sent out this morning from Yasmin Anwar. Anwar, a Kaiser Elementary School mom, was one of many parents who fought to keep Kaiser open after it appeared on a list of schools under “possible closure consideration.” She brings some communications know-how to the coalition, as she works in UC Berkeley’s media relations department.

Velasquez told me that the people he had spoken to about the issue feel that the elected officials “are disconnected from the community.”

I’m still learning about the recall process, but here’s what I gather so far: First, a small amount of signatures need to be collected in each of the five districts. Once those signatures and the language of the proposed ballot measure are certified, its proponents go about collecting a larger amount of signatures (for a mayoral recall election, it’s 10 percent of registered voters, or 19,811, in 160 calendar days — not sure about the school board members) to qualify the measure for a future ballot. Meanwhile, pro-recall supporters put forth their own candidates.

Hinton Hodge and London are up for re-election anyway in 2012; so are their colleagues who voted against the closures, Alice Spearman and Noel Gallo.

Would you support a recall campaign?

Here’s the news release that went out today:

Dec. 14, 2011

WHAT:
Members of the Concerned Parents and Community Coalition will present hundreds of signatures to launch a recall effort against the five Oakland Unified School District board members who voted to close Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe elementary schools.

The “Intent to Recall” petitions will be presented at today’s OUSD board meeting. The meeting will be preceded by a march for education from Laney College to OUSD headquarters.

WHEN:
Today, Wednesday, Dec. 14. The rally and march will begin at 4 p.m.
The school board meeting will begin at 5 p.m.

WHERE:
Laney College quad, 900 Fallon Street
OUSD boardroom, 1025 2nd Avenue

WHO:
The OUSD board members who voted to close five schools are Jody London (District 1), David Kakishiba (District 2), Jumoke Hinton Hodge (District 3), Gary Yee (District 4) and Christopher Dobbins (District 6). London, Hodge and Dobbins are up for reelection in 2012.

BACKGROUND:
The OUSD plans to shutter at least 20 schools by 2014. The district is in the process of redrawing neighborhood school attendance boundaries to accommodate the relocation of thousands of students due to school closures.

Katy Murphy

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

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    I can’t say this surprises me. Parents were calling for Jody London’s recall at the Santa Fe community meeting just a few months ago.

    She answered no questions, and said she had to leave early due to her needing to attend a Nutcracker rehearsal for her daughter.

    She has not been in real contact with any of the Santa Fe community since last April, when she attended a School Site Council meeting.

    There has been no response from her to any questions or concerns posed via e-mail or at board meetings.

    I wish her well, but I am dismayed at her lack of concern for the people who helped elect her and who she supposedly represents.

  • Mr. X

    So these pro-recall people are going to expend time and energy on this effort, yet what is their alternative (and presumably better) plan of action?

    We…don’t…have…the…money.

  • Mick,

    The board members were “elected” by the people. This recall is a joke!

  • fyodor

    We…don’t…have…the…money.

  • another interested parent

    How about a recall for those who voted against the closures?! I am ready to sign that petition.

    There is no money. I just don’t understand how people don’t understand that. It makes me crazy to go to Board meetings and hear person after person argue against school closures and suggest that OUSD simply fund the schools — often speakers suggest that OUSD simply not pay the state back the money that it owes from the state loan. Do people understand that this is NOT possible? That’s NOT how debts work.

  • Seenitbefore

    there’s money in this district……..there’s lots of money…. it simply continues to be spent on the WRONG things. What are the wrong things? Anything and anyone who is not directly interacting with students in the classroom.

    the other problem….even bigger than the money issue….social promotion and not addressing the issue of studets who do not master the grade level standards and yet are simply promoted to the next grade level year after year. This is NOT the teachers… teachers are told that “it is district policy that no students are to be retained”.

    our problem is the excessive number of people OUTSIDE the classroom who continue to impose stupid policies and costly expenditures on a broken school system.

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    I heartily concur with #6. Last week I stayed late to copy homework packets and I came across a group of adults in the teachers lounge. They were decorating the room for the holidays, and I thanked them for their time. In response, one assured me she would not be there if she wasn’t being paid. It turned out the group was from downtown’s sub office, hired with overtime pay to decorate our teachers lounge. Huh ??? We have parents who do that stuff for free….

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    On a much larger scale, Santa Fe had $700,000 worth of work done on fencing and a new playgroundjust in time to close the school. Sankofa also had 8.8 million allocated toward renovations, and it was #1 on the closure list last time around (though it got a reprieve due to its shifting status as a K-8 startup). In the latter case, that’s a lot of money spent that could have been used to keep the 5 schools open.

  • OUSD parent

    To all of the comments that say “we don’t have the money”. The question should be WHY don’t we have the money. Public Education is complex to say the least, especially in OUSD. Something is seriously wrong. If we don’t pause and start asking the right questions and start finding the even harder solutions, we may find ourselves without any REAL public education left in OUSD.

    1.We do have the money and the state is not providing what they promised to OUSD …ADA should be approx. 6,200 per child and we are only receiving 5,200 from the state. Yes, that is not OUSD fault but we should be fighting together to get what the state already owes us (38,000 students in OUSD x $1,000=38 million dollars). If we received the money that THE STATE OF CALFORNIA OWES OUR CHILDREN we would NOT be closing schools in Oakland. No wonder California is so far behind in education.

    2. We have a disproportionate amount of charters compared to other districts bleeding students and funding. We need to bring that to the table. Another, very long debate.

    3. Closing school sites does NOT save districts any substantial money. Here is the report in case you want to read and educate yourselves. This is a independent and impartial report of 6 urban school districts that closed schools to save money. The study shows that “The money saved as the result of closing schools, at least in the short run, has been relatively
    small in the context of big-city school-district budgets”. Read the whole report you will see that we are repeating the same mistakes that other districts have already done.

    http://www.pewtrusts.org/uploadedFiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/Reports/Philadelphia_Research_Initiative/Closing-Public-Schools-Philadelphia.pdf

    4. It’s time that we stop saying that we don’t have the money as a community and as a nation. Our federal and a state government has the money. The question is where do our priority’s lie. I believe that education should be first on the list(or at least in top 2). Many, don’t agree and maybe that’s the real debate.

    5. @ Another Interested Parent… You imply that people do not know how debt works. My question to you is, do you know why OUSD owes so much? Just in case you don’t…. The state took over receivership of OUSD in 2003. The state fined themselves while in control OUSD in the tens of millions, year after year when THEY (the state) had control. OUSD was left holding the bill and that’s NOT the way it should work. Currently OUSD owes over 21 million in fines that WE (tax payers) should not be responsible for. Not possible or NOT right?

    6. AB 609, read it … Swanson wrote it…it didn’t pass last year and is coming up for a vote again in 2012. WE ALL need to support that bill and cancel some of OUSD debt (fines) to the state.

    As far as the recall is concerned. I believe it’s not a joke at all. It think OUSD, including it’s board members are a joke for attempting to close 25 schools in 5 years. The bigger problem (joke)is the people commenting as parents thinking that this is not going to effect EVERY single school, child , teacher, and parent in OUSD. The sinking ship should ring a bell. I know that we are already losing a GREAT teacher at our school (not on the closure list). An amazing teacher with 20 years experience (3 with OUSD) is leaving at the end of this year because she can’t wait for her pink slip in march. What kind of teachers, principals, and staff is OUSD going to attract in the years to come? How many MORE amazing teachers , principals, and staff are going to abandon ship? Displacing thousand of children, family’s , and hundreds of teachers to save 2.2 million dollars that studies now show may not even materialize. OK?

    I know we can’t all agree on everything. I hope in the month to come the community may start to realize when they stop listening to sound bites that this plan may not be in the best interest of public education and our children’s future.

    Best regards

  • M.L.

    I think those of us who are near school issues but clear on state budget insanity could use a lot more specificity in the arguments by those who want to keep schools open, etc. As a relatively new resident to CA (3 years), it took me a minute to catch on, but I’m dumbfounded, shocked, and worse at how state funding of schools is both incredibly thin and a pie that gets cut smaller and smaller. When I saw the number of Oakland schools coupled with the articles on population shift and people with children leaving the city, it’s actually the only option that made sense to me. The numbers were staggering. I’d love to educate myself here– to see the argument for keeping a district losing enrollment with the same number of schools. It looks like these folks stopped a little bit of the resource bleeding. Though unpopular and it looks like there is some real critique of how some (all?) of them handled the situation, it seems like this type of action should be the first of many if they want to run a smaller district. Where I came from, every time you lose a student, you lost $x,000 in funding from the state. Do the people proposing that these folks get recalled have some of their own budget answers that can get the District to a smaller, healthier budget? Certainly cutting superfluous activities like decorating rooms makes sense, but a good number of suggestions I have seen pick from designated buckets (school repairs, etc.) that are set through state-level policies and facilities funds (at least they have been in every place I have lived). I believe in fighting for economic justice and strong, healthy, viable public school, but it’s striking me as odd that all the arguments are about these board members when it seems (again, I confess to learning here) that the much bigger problems are in how we tax (prop 13, etc), how we designate (funds should go to student learning, etc. and meet basic needs first) and the overall priorities of a state hell bent on racing to the bottom for its students.

    I really hope we can find solutions that work – that are realistic and give kids great places to learn. As a prospective parent, I have decreasing trust that California has it together enough to subject my child to its education system.

  • Turanga_teach

    It saddens me that school closures were (and probably will continue to be) necessary, but we KNOW that part of OUSD’s budgetary issues stem from having too many schools for too few students, thanks in part to foundations paying to launch new small schools and then pulling the rug out and handing us the ongoing bill.

    Were those five the ones that should have closed? Jury is, in my opinion, still out on that, but it may not matter: these five are the tip of an iceberg of school closures that I anticipate will come in upcoming years, as Oakland re-aligns itself with fiscal and demographic realities.

    The ones who voted AGAINST the closures, to me, are the ones in dereliction of duty–especially when they made statements about the necessity of closing schools right before voting to nevertheless not do so.

  • SocialJusticeEd

    To all of you who oppose the recall based on the assumption that the OUSD is bankrupt…Stop thinking from your comfortable little priviledged perspectives! Studies show over and over again, that overcrowded schools and classrooms make for poorly educated kids, violence in schools, high drop-out rates, etc. Getting a quality education should not be a priviledge of those who can afford homes in upper class neighborhoods or private schools. It is a right for all kids and parents of Oakland!

    The board members who voted for school closures, did not try to protect the rights of their constituents…in fact, they only made choices based on nepotism and personal interest. Instead of offering creative solutions, looking at national fiscal models, engaging the parent and business comunity and providing oversight on the District’s frivolous administrative spending, they shut all discussion with the refrain: We Don’t have Money!!!. But Ms. London has time and $$ to attend her kid’s ballet rehearsal…These are not the people we elected to represent us! It is obvious that they do not take their position seriously or even care…Jean Jacques Rousseau said that ” when those elected by the public violate the terms of the social contract they enter upon election, the public has the responsibility to remedy the situation by replacing them” Wake up board members! You have violated your “contract” with the parents and kids of Oakland and you must be replaced!!!It’s only just and our kids need to learn how true democracy works!!!

  • Katy Murphy

    Are you saying that a truly representative Oakland school board member wouldn’t have the means to enroll their kid in ballet?

  • Katrina

    Jody London has been completely non-responsive to her district except to Chabot school. When given a chance to report about what was happening in her district dhe had nothing to contribute. How about sharing the good news that Kaiser elementary got a music teacher and we voted to kerp our interim principle Darren Avent who is a model community member. Or how about sharing the bad news like the closure of Santa Fe and how those parents and children and scrambling to find a new school to attend and Sankofa might not live up to Ousd promises of given shuttered children better school options. How about bullying at Emerson and Ms London’s complete disregard for the children in her district. School closures don’t save the district money, they shift these funds to their school of choice with complete disregard for the mental and emotional African American and children of color and lower socio-economic means

  • Monica Yu

    So far, I have not seen any specific evidence to convince me that closing schools will really save the district much money.

    However, I have seen that the unintended consequences of the board’s actions have dramatically destabilized our district, and this will cost our city and our children. This board has created conditions of uncertainty, causing families to flee Oakland’s schools and schools themselves to opt to go charter rather than try to operate under OUSD. Ultimately these unintended consequences will result in lost revenue for the district, and a lessened ability to educate kids.

    I have also seen that board members showed a complete disregard for community input, during a closure process that was anything but transparent. My board representative was completely unwilling to engage in any productive dialogue with the community. I don’t know about a recall, but I certainly won’t be voting for this representative in any future election.

  • josh simpson

    This is a situation fraught with complicated choices but the bottom line is that the execution of this plan has been poor. The money is a HUGE issue but so too are the consequences of closing good schools to NOT save money. Watch what happens to the kids in these schools that are closing and you’ll clearly see how the “plan” has a financial model but few operational details. I think the parents feel like recall is their only way to startle the board and that’s very sad.

  • J.R.

    School closures will continue, there will be up to 20 to 30 closures over three years.

    http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/education&id=8340668

    If Alice quote “did not have it in her” to vote to close 5 schools, how in the world is she going to vote for dozens more. This is leadership?

    Something is very very wrong with the oversight in this district(and has been for a long time)for questionable financial management to have taken place followed by a state takeover(this all be prior to the economic meltdown.

    Just compare the size of the budgets for similarly sized districts and it just doesn’t add up:

    http://californiaschildren.typepad.com/californias-children/2010/07/the-list-cas-most-fiscally-unsound-school-districts.html

    http://www.economist.com/node/18563678

    http://www.calchamber.com/pressreleases/pages/californiaeducationstudyrevealsdisturbingtrend.aspx

    http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2011/06/06/School-Budgets-The-Worst-Education-Money-Can-Buy.aspx#page1

  • J.R.

    Socialjustice,

    Democracy is a two way street with rights and responsibilities as well. Too many people shirk their responsibilities to themselves and their community. Irresponsible or ill equipped people who cannot even take care of themselves having children, and yet society must provide cradle to grave sustenance and housing. How is this justice for those people who are killing themselves working day in and day out paying taxes to support this craziness?

  • J.R.

    As far as the board goes…
    When you elect people who are community activists, or work for non-profits or people who have always been a part of the public sector(supported by tax money)you have people who don’t live by the constraints of the free market economy. The basis of the real economy is do a good job and people will invest in your products or services, or don’t do a good job and people will have nothing to do with your products and or services and go bankrupt. Other districts have elected retired economists, accountants, and or business people who know how to handle a budget.

  • http://www.movingforwardedu.com Lacy Asbill

    Whether you believe that the board members made the right or the wrong choice in their vote around school closures, the personal attacks on these public servants really have to stop.

    Last night at the board meeting, I heard that our board members are cowards and Satan worshipers who shouldn’t be able to look at themselves in the mirror, and who don’t care at all about hurting children. Throughout the evening, I heard protesters screaming curses into the ears of the Kindergarteners sitting in the front row. For too many meetings, I have felt appalled and ashamed about the behavior of the ADULTS in the room.

    Is this how we would want our students resolving their conflicts on the playground? If we don’t agree, you’re a bad and evil person at your core?

    As adults on either side of the issue, we have a responsibility to model that we can disagree while still being respectful–a skill our children will need in order to succeed in the world. We need to teach them that, even when we are hurt and angry, we can speak our minds peaceably and work together to resolve our conflicts. And if that isn’t possible, we can seek other resolutions without crossing the line into personal disrespect.

  • J.R.

    Lacy,
    If you are in charge of other peoples money(aka the taxpayers, whom you willfully represent)it is not fiscally prudent to allow people,programs and services not directly affecting students to balloon out of control and make it necessary to cut back on core services which directly affect students. This district has an income stream far and above many other districts with the same number of students, and yet it is not enough. How is that?

  • J.R.

    One more thing…

    One of the most important lessons that our children need to learn is that money does not grow on trees, or flow from a fountain(although to some people it seems that way). Real people have to earn money, and then pay taxes on that which pays for services(education,HHS and so forth) that people need or enjoy. That money is not free, and comes at great cost(with interest).

  • Harold

    The Oakland School Board, as whole, is a joke, in my opinion. For the most part, they are a living, breathing, rubber stamp for Sacramento and our over-paid Superintendent.

    I challenge Katy Murphy, or anyone with a soap box … to go to the Harper Building or 2nd Avenue and count all the former Principal’s collecting checks, doing whatever they do down there.

    I also challenge any investigative Journalists out there to track what happens to all the Administrators who get “bumped” as we go back to large comprehensive secondary schools.

    Please do not forget … the district pays over a million dollars a year to the state because they are out of compliance (the amount of revenue directly spent in the classroom).

    Can Oakland really afford the highest paid Superintendent, over the lowest paid Teachers?

    Can Oakland afford an Administrative job bank at the central office?

  • J.R.

    Harold,
    On this I agree completely! Unfortunately no one has the guts(or will) to change things(Jerry Brown is just another tax pilfering puppet, as is Tom Torlakson). The people who make these decisions are the same ones with the big bank accounts(courtesy of the taxpayers). They are only interested in feathering their own nests while diverting attention from themselves, and pointing fingers of blame elsewhere. As long as the benefits and pensions keep rolling in things are Jim Dandy!

  • Mr. X

    It’s very easy to criticize, yet it’s not a very fruitful exercise. What is the solution, is what I want to know. Aren’t there hundreds of school districts in CA? Hasn’t SOME district been in a similar situation as OUSD and succeeded? Let’s look at what they did and do some of those things. Who’s researching that?

  • MH

    This district spends 6 million per year for school security & they want tosave 2 million by closing 5 elementary schools..something doesn’t add up. If we invested in the children in elementary schools then we wouldn’t need to spend so much on school security. don’t talk about no $ we just got 10million for Oakland cops who will be stationed around middle schools duh..If the board wants respect that should give respect ie listen when public is speaking, don’t say you are bored with us, respect our wishes
    don’t laugh while the elderly are speaking. Tony Smith said it himself at the mtg last nite the longer we can have our students in one school the better they will be duh so you disrubt K and 1st graders school life and expect a positive outcome I don’t think so those are the most formative years if you turn them off from school now you can never get these years back and just like the teachers from the closed schools are considered “damaged goods” so will the kids. There is money they saved the baseball pgm at UCB Cal so step up and save these schools make Oakland a postive example for a change.

  • mh

    OUSD spends 6 million a year on security and they want to save 2 million by closing 5 elementary schools something doesn’t add up. The board was elected to represent us and our needs that is not happening so good-bye OUSD board members

  • ch

    this websit is bogus you wouldn’t let my comment on why because you don’t agree with it I’m reporting you to the Oakland Tribune

  • ch

    oops my fault my comment did go thru thanks

  • Alice Spearman

    @JR,
    Let’s be clear about my statement and vote. Thurgood Marshall Elementary School is; 1)my neighborhood school, one half block from my house; 2)my children and grandchildren attended the scholl and I have another grandson who we hoped would attend the school; 3)my child advocacy started at the school, PTA President 6 years, SSC Chair 10 years; 4) the school is in the district I represent, my constituents were very clear on how they wished for me to vote also. There were many other schools who qualified for closure but the district choose this beautiful and successful small school. So I voted the wishes of my constituents and my concious. I could not vote for just one school at a time, I had to vote the package. My collegues voted their concious also.
    In the future, there will be more schools targeted for closure, I will again vote on the merits presented to me.
    P.S. Last night’s baord meeting lasted until 2:00AM, we hold closed session after all the public business is concluded. I know of no board member who is not commited to ensuring the best public education possible for Oakland Children!
    Please excuse any spelling errors, I lost my glasses!

  • Katy Murphy

    For those unfamiliar with the way the blog works: The first time you submit a comment with a certain username and email address combination I need to approve it before it appears. The same goes for posts that include multiple links or certain words we’ve flagged.

    It’s mostly to prevent spam.

  • another interested parent

    @OUSD Parent: I do indeed know why OUSD owes the state money. I know all about the receivership. I have sat through countless Board meetings both during the receivership and after the receivership at which these topics have been raised. I agree with you that the fines the receivership incurred should not be paid by OUSD. That would be unconscionable and is why Swanson’s bill should be supported by all. However, OUSD still owes money to the state that was loaned to it as part of the receivership. You can’t just default on a loan and say I don’t want to pay you anymore and have there be no consequences. What I was objecting to were the many people who seem to think that OUSD is choosing (to the detriment of other ways to use funds) to pay the state for money it owes the state. It isn’t a choice. It is a legal requirement. OUSD can’t just stop paying the state no matter how many people stand up at the microphone and hurl invectives at the school board members to do just that.

    I also agree with you that this state is lamentable in its horrible, horrible funding of public education. Yes, we should all be lobbying Sacramento to change this. But that isn’t going to happen overnight. What happens in the short term? What happens for next school year when there are even more budget cuts?

    OUSD has too many schools. It has far too much unused capacity. We could point lots of fingers as to why this has happened (poor quality, poor oversight, nepotism, an incredibly large number of charters, the crazy system under which private grants funded small schools and then those grants were discontinued leaving a shortfall of funds to continue them). But this is the situation that OUSD is in. OUSD cannot and should not keep open this number of schools. Even if OUSD was the most efficient user of resources in the history of school districts and didn’t continue to spend a crazy amount of money on outside contractors and professional development that teachers and principals don’t want or need, there still wouldn’t be enough money to fund all of these schools and have them be quality schools.

    At the next election, I hope that many different folks run for the open seats. We need more contested school board elections. We need school board reps who will vote as to what is best for the district as a whole and not vote to keep schools open because their family members used to go there and they have a long history of volunteering at certain schools. We all need to be less parochial about these issues and look to the best interests of all.

  • Katy Murphy

    By the way: In my quest to figure out exactly how these OUSD recall petitions would work, I found this document from the California Secretary of State’s office explaining how recalls work. Oakland’s city charter defers to state rules in recall elections, so this information is relevant in the attempted OUSD recall. I checked with the state, and this document is still current.

    If you go to the bottom of page 20, you’ll see how many signatures is required to qualify a petition for a future ballot. In jurisdictions with 10,000 to 50,000 registered voters — as is the case in OUSD districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 — petitioners have to get the signatures of 20 percent of the electorate. In District 1 alone (which has ~40,000 registered voters, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters), that would amount to roughly 8,000 valid signatures, base on today’s voter count.

    If you add all five districts together, it’s 31,300 signatures — far more than is required for a citywide mayoral recall (19,811). That’s because in jurisdictions with 100,000 or more voters, like the city of Oakland, only 10 percent is required.

  • J.R.

    Alice,
    I would think all our schools should be uppermost in mind, also bear in mind that more closures are coming(I know that you know this already), and in my opinion we should seriously think of telling some of these unions to take a flying leap and spend less on security and outsource maintenance to save money short-term and in the long term. Those that make policy had better listen to the people that work pay the taxes, because we are tired of carrying those that don’t. If you aren’t aware already, regarding the 99% only 48% of us pay payroll and or property taxes. We cannot afford high paying make-work jobs along with pensions anymore, it’s just reality.

  • Jesse James

    #23 Harold’s comment–Katy, you said you’d look into it. Any updates?

  • A Peach

    Inadequate funding and shifting demographics have caused problems all over the country that are similar to those in Oakland. At present, Atlanta is going through months of public comment on its plans to change school borders and close and expand schools.

    The four comprehensive plans, with maps, are available for all to see. There is lively debate, anxiety, skepticism, and politics involved, of course. It does not seem to be a scattershot approach targeting one school after another unlike Oakland’s practice.

  • Katy Murphy

    I’ve requested info, but have nothing yet to report.

  • http://PetervonEhrenkrook Peter von Ehrenkrook

    A few more related thoughts, I hope….

    I sat through 2 hours of public dialogue between Jody London and community members at the Rockridge Public Library, and I was very impressed with her ability to connect with her audience of white, upper middle class constituents. She went out of her way to compliment the growth of Peralta, and also mentioned several times how “our European-American schools are outperforming our African-American schools.”

    Despite an earthquake, which seemed to momentarily rattle Ms. London, she continued to respond quite openly with her audience. She insisted that Claremont would not be closing, and she plans to send her daughter there next year.

    A persistent question in my mind has been why there would be a need for Sankofa to go K-8 if Claremont is underenrolled. Some of the African-American community members at Santa Fe believe it will help Claremont regain some of the European-American population who fled when middle schools in West Oakland were closed and African-Americans were reassigned to Claremont. With Sankofa open for middle school students, those African-American students from West Oakland need no longer attend Claremont.

    What has not been articulated, and what Ms. London seems woefully unaware of or unconcerned about, is her cultural disconnect from her African-American constituents.

    I don’t believe anyone faults a parent for wanting to attend and support her child’s extracurricular activities. Many Santa Fe community members questioned why Ms. London would use that as an excuse to not respond to their questions at the Santa Fe community meeting. They felt she surely could have made arrangements for another family member to help out, so she could fulfill her duty as an OUSD Board Member.

    One Santa Fe parent who sat with me through the Rockridge Library forum was also deeply offended by the tone and rhetoric Ms. London used there. He became a leader in the recall drive in District 1.

    I personally was astonished when I received Ms. London’s response to a request that she attend a Santa Fe School Site Council meetings. She e-mailed back that I must surely be aware that she has a day job and she is not available to attend on such short notice (I believe it was 72 hours). To his credit, Mr. Noel Gallo did attend, though he is not our direct representative on the board. That spoke volumes to me about Ms. London’s commitment to representing ALL of her constituents. As mentioned above, she has made no effort to communicate with or engage in dialogue with the Santa Fe community since April of 2011.

    If nothing else, perhaps this recall effort will serve as a wake up call to those board members who believe they have acted in the best interests of ALL of their constituents.

  • Alice Spearman

    @JR,
    The Board is paying attention to all barganing issues and directing our barganing team as to what direction to take. I think sometime in January we are planning a special study session on contracts and the issues.
    @Another Interested Parent Says,
    As stated before, I did not think Marshall should have been included in the list of closures, irrespected of my personal involvement at the school, it was not a good school reccomendation from staff.
    Now I would suggest for everyone interested in the funding issues of OUSD, the board has already started our budget development discussions, and folks need to really monitor our discussions, get involved in the discussions, which means now you may have to attend board meetings and be prepared to stay late. These business issues are ususally agendized after public comments.
    HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE, Including you Katy!

  • Cranky Teacher

    Whatever you think about these particular politicians, recalls are generally stupid and wasteful.

    Consider: Many of these school board members ran UNOPPOSED, even in their very first election. Almost nobody wants the job, because it doesn’t pay and it is a lot of work and you are invariably going to deal with some very angry people.

    Here’s an idea: People who care this much about OUSD should draft and run candidates during regularly scheduled elections!

  • Katy Murphy

    Same to you, Alice!

  • J.R.

    Cranky,
    I agree,recalls are generally a bad idea(much like the ill conceived ranked choice voting)and you rarely get someone in replacement who is actually capable for the task(although we have someone now who is definitely not capable now). In this country we have one person,one vote that is both a strength and sometimes a weakness that carries risks. This is one of the best pieces of evidence to show why we need to invest in a good education system(that is not so hindered by special interests and politics,money and power) so that we may have an educated,knowledgeable and literate population. As for the anger issue, people are less likely to be led on a leash,dependent and just plain trapped in a particular mode of existence if they are educated. Very often people are more apt to make clear well thought out choices when they are educated and don’t feel as much anger when things don’t go their way because there is a plan b,c and so forth. I (for one) do not like it when time and resources are wasted(and I see more than I care to in this district)much like Peter described. Some PTA parents have tried to draft and run candidates but it just seems to fall apart under the weight of this ponderous system we have in place that goes by the unspoken motto “to get along, you go along”. People don’t really want change, they don’t want to be bothered and just want status quo by any means necessary, by hook or by crook.

  • Adams Point Mama

    Hi Katy,

    As someone who’s just starting to dive into all the school information, I feel a bit lost. How can a parent educate herself about the board, the issues, the budget crisis, etc? Are board meetings open to the public? Are they posted on the OUSD website? How can a parent get involved beyond the raise-money-for-your-child’s-elementary-school level? Aside from this recall initiative, are there advocacy groups? It seems like there’s a lot rotten about the system but there’s so much to parse out here — what is the state’s fault, what is the OUSD’s fault, what can be done, etc. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

    Cheers.

  • Katy Murphy

    The meetings are open to the public — they let me in, after all! You can watch them live online, too, if you can’t make it in person. The video archives are eventually posted online, though sometimes there’s a backlog.

    You can find the meetings listed here, though not always that far in advance. I don’t know if the 2012 regular meetings schedule is posted yet.

    There are quite a few parent groups in Oakland: Oakland Parents Together, Parent Leadership Action Network and Oakland Community Organizations come to mind. I’ve actually been meaning to blog about this.

    And, of course, keep reading this blog! ;)

  • Katy Murphy

    I also blogged about this effort to bring parents together. The wiki doesn’t look like it’s been updated in awhile.