Tonight, Oakland parents to protest the teacher shuffle

AFTERNOON UPDATE: OUSD just sent me the information I requested about its teacher consolidations. There are 14 teachers from 13 schools being reassigned this year: from Bella Vista, Cleveland, Hoover, Kaiser, Claremont, Melrose Leadership Academy, Bret Harte, Roosevelt, Frick (2 teachers), Piedmont Avenue, Allendale, La Escuelita, and Rise.


The week before last, Rachel Kargas, a parent at Oakland’s Cleveland Elementary School, wrote about the effects of consolidation: losing a teaching position and moving students into different (and often, grade-level combination) classrooms, mid-year, because fewer students enrolled than expected in certain grades. Parents from Cleveland Elementary spoke out at the last board meeting, urging the district to reconsider.

Tonight, the uber-organized parents and teachers at Kaiser Elementary School, who fended off the threat of closure last fall, plan to make their case. Parents say that because some families held onto their children’s seats until the last minute and enrolled them elsewhere, the school (which normally has a waiting list) had three vacancies — and is losing a teacher as a result.

I’ve requested information from OUSD on enrollment projections, the 20-day enrollment count (which, I’m told, should be coming soon — given that the 20th day of school was two weeks ago), and teacher consolidations — when a teacher is moved from one school to another to maximize class size loads.

The big question is how many fewer students than expected showed up to OUSD schools this fall, as that is likely driving some of these decisions.

The Kaiser parents (didn’t I tell you they were organized?) issued a news release this morning:

For immediate release

ATTENTION: Reporters covering K-12 education, general assignment and
broadcast news desks

WHAT: Kaiser Elementary families and teachers at tonight¹s school
board meeting will protest a forced consolidation that will result in mixed
grade classes and larger class sizes due to the removal of a teacher. The
school district is consolidating Kaiser because its enrollment has
fallen just three slots short of what is required under the teachers’
contractual agreement.

The Kaiser community says the shortfall, which has been estimated to cost
the district less than $30,000 in Average Daily Attendance (ADA) money for
the year, can be raised and is not worth the upheaval caused by the removal
of a teacher and the domino effect that it will have on all classes. This
comes at a time when Kaiser is working on a major expansion plan with the
school district.

WHEN: Tonight, (Wednesday, Oct. 10) starting at 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Outside and inside OUSD headquarters at 1025 2nd Avenue, Oakland

BACKGROUND: Henry J. Kaiser Elementary is a California Distinguished School
with a high-performing, racially and socio-economically diverse student
body, off-the-charts parent involvement and a large LGBT parent community.
It was Kaiser’s unwarranted placement on the district’s closure list last
fall that contributed to fewer students enrolling this fall. Recognizing
Kaiser’s success, the OUSD board voted instead to expand Kaiser to take in
100 more students. This begs the question of why Kaiser is being forced to
downsize at the same time that OUSD is working with the school on major
expansion plans.

Katy Murphy

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

  • OaklandParent

    I have a 1st grader and a 3rd grader at Kasier. Kaiser kids experienced huge stress last year, being told in the first few weeks of class that the school might close. They now face fears of consolidation this year. On top of this we have been planning another round of change for next year with possible expansion or relocation.
    Really, we need to focus on educating the children at Kaiser. Kaiser teachers are excellent educators, please just let them do what they do best. A small budget shortfall is not worth interupting the children’s education. This lower enrollment is a consequence of OUSD policies. Kaiser kids and teachers should not the pay the price for these policies.

  • Yasmin Anwar

    First the school district puts Kaiser on a closure list, then it asks us to expand to take in 100 more students. Now it’s removing a teacher which will really put the squeeze on our limited resources, and is stressing out everyone, including the kids, to the max. One has to wonder why Kaiser is being jerked around. It’s a great school, really.

  • Monica Yu

    Underenrollment at Kaiser is a direct result of the cloud of uncertainty that has hung over the school ever since OUSD’s misguided attempt to close the school last year. Now our families and teachers are being asked to pay the price. The current situation is just more evidence why closing schools didn’t really save the district money – although it did drive many families away from our public schools. Consolidation would just make the situation worse by fostering more uncertainty, and pushing more families to leave OUSD. I hope we as a community can turn this ship around and start telling a different story! There is so much potential in our schools if we can just work together to create an atmosphere of safety and stability.

    Parent of 3 Kaiser kids

  • Kaiser Parent

    Leave functioning, exceptional, and diverse Oakland public schools–like Kaiser Elementary–alone!

    As a parent of a child at Kaiser, I have been blown away by the phenomenal teachers, parents, staff–everyone involved. It makes no sense to fix what is obviously NOT broken. This is a model school. As a former elementary school teacher who has worked in public schools from San Francisco to Richmond, to see a public school (in Oakland, no less) WORKING, speaks volumes.

    Tony Smith, Jody London (OUSD): if a California Distinguished School such as Kaiser unravels due to careless and heartless decisions, you all will never live that down.

    Someone should be making a documentary of our amazing school, titled: “The Little School that Could!”

  • Another Kaiser Parent

    As a District 1 voter, my husband and I are voting for Thearse Pecot, Jody London’s opponent. (Thearse Pecot is against school closures.)

  • J.R.

    Someone, anyone needs to audit of the core of OUSD’s district office operations, and determine if there is a culture of under-qualified, over-insulated or just plain incompetent people attempting day to day operations of this school district.

  • Kaiser Parent

    The district forced school closures last year and said they expected to loose 20%. Assuming that the students in the closed schools would migrate to other schools and increase enrollment what happened to those students? There are SEVERAL schools that are facing consolidation–WHY is this when the district only projected a loss of 20%? Where are those students? It would appear that the district messed up in their calculations and now, yet again, the children are paying for it.

  • Maya Scott-Chung

    Here is the letter we wrote in September 2011 when Kaiser Elementary faced possible closure. All of what we said then applies now. We are a diverse, dynamic, growing, vibrant school community, and we should be supported in sustaining and growing our programs, rather than being targeted and diminished.

    21 September 2011

    To Whom It May Concern,

    Our daughter Luna started in first grade at Kaiser Elementary in the fall of 2010. We moved to Oakland because we are a multicultural, queer and transgender family and there are many people of color, interracial and queer families here like ours. Kaiser Elementary was our first choice for a number of reasons, and we felt very lucky to get in. We looked at over 12 OUSD schools and Kaiser was the most culturally diverse and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) friendly, and it has strong academics, arts and science programs. We met several families that were LGBTQ or had gender non-conforming children who had experienced verbal and physical harassment in other OUSD schools and considered Kaiser a “safe school” for LGBTQ people. We are also a tri-generational family who have experienced chronic illness and disability, and we have connected with many parents/caregivers and children with disabilities in our school. MeiBeck is transgender and our daughter Luna refers to her as “dad,” and we wanted her to be in a social and cultural environment where her mixed cultural heritages and family structure were welcomed, affirmed and reflected in the other families, staff, and in the curriculum.

    We live in the San Antonio district, and we have never seen or met another “out” LGBTQ family in our neighborhood. We love the beauty and diversity of our neighborhood, but we were concerned with the low performance and limited resources of our local elementary school. We also live across from a park where there are frequent gunshots, several murders and rape, prostitution and a great deal of crime. We drive about 30 minutes twice a day to bring Luna to school, as do many of other Kaiser families. The fact that Kaiser is mostly out of neighborhood children means that families from a variety of more working class or poor neighborhoods in Oakland (like ours) have access to excellent academics, physical safety and a socially, culturally and economically diverse community. We of course support getting accessible public transportation to Kaiser Elementary as well, which will increase economic and physical access to our school.

    We have been very engaged parents and we appreciate the dynamic, creative, energetic commitment of Kaiser families. We helped to train staff in using the GroundSpark Respect for All Project film THAT’S A FAMILY! We co-organized an LGBTQ and Ally family potluck and created a contact list with over 20 families (so our estimate is that about 10% or more of Kaiser parents are LGBTQ.) We participated in OUSD LGBTQ Leadership Circle with Our Family Coalition and worked with our first grade teachers to pilot the Welcoming Schools curriculum. We worked with StoryCorp’s National Teacher’s Initiative to record conversations with our parents, caregivers, teachers, alumni , students and staff that are being archives in the Library of Coongress. We organized a family movie and arts night where children drew pictures and told stories about their families and parents discussed alliance building, bullying prevention and building a positive school climate, and created a banner with these images called “WE ARE FAMILY- SOMOS FAMILIA.” Some of our families later marched in the Occupy Movement General Strike in solidarity with our teachers . Our daughter loves Kaiser and she feels at home there.

    All schools should be welcoming schools, and the attention to diversity, inclusion, bullying prevention and alliance building that is happening in the curriculum and community at Kaiser should be happening everywhere. We want this for all of our children. We have a wonderful new Principal Darren Avent who is visionary and ready to guide us in the changes to come. Kaiser families and children should not be punished for our commitment, equity and high academic performance. Rather than eliminating Kaiser Elementary, we should work to create more places and spaces that are safe, welcoming and inclusive of all of our children and families. Kaiser Elementary is not just a neighborhood resource, it is a resource for all of Oakland. We are proud and grateful to be a part of this school, and we will do everything we can to preserve it. We strongly urge you to remove Kaiser Elementary from the list of schools under consideration for closure. Please let us know what we can do to help.


    MeiBeck and Maya Scott-Chung

  • Dean Sedlachek

    Given that this is an election year for Jody London and Oakland voters are being asked to approved a $475M bond (Measure J), OUSD and President London have only a brief window of time to resolve the turmoil they are causing in the Oakland Schools. Students are leaving the District schools in favor of charters or private schools because parents have little faith that OUSD and President London can effectively manage their schools. Our students need a solid foundation and consistent message from their leaders and educators that reinforces their desire to learn and decision to return to school each day. Without that sense of consistency and trust in leadership, our students continue to suffer and our parents are choosing alternative schools.

    Every Fall there is another fire within the District to put out. Last Fall several schools were either closed or threatened with closure. Kaiser was one of the schools threatened with closure. Later Kaiser was recognized by the District (and the State of California) as a model and Distinguished school. Because of its many successes, the District decided Kaiser should be made accessible to more students, and was mandated to expand to allow 100 more students to enroll. This Fall several more schools are threatened with consolidation, including Kaiser. What is the District’s plan? Expand or contract? Parents who desperately want to send their children to Oakland schools are defecting rather than face another year of uncertainly. Is there any wonder why parents are choosing other options besides OUSD schools?

    School closures, the threat of closure, shrinking enrollment and classroom consolidation all exemplify the incompetence, lack of leadership and mismanagement within a District that is being steered down a slippery slope by Superintendent Tony Smith and President Jody London. Another round of negative publicity that highlights the School District’s mistakes and miscalculations isn’t going to win any votes for Measure J. November 6 is just a few weeks away. President London should ask quickly and decisively to shore up the voters faith in the District and their willingness to support her (rather than challenger, Thearse Pecot)and Measure J.

  • Lisa Mendoza

    The decision taken recently to consolidate a teacher at Kaiser Elementary due to low enrollment affects the entire Kaiser community and especially the children directly. It is not just numbers on a piece of paper. Although I appreciate that the Superintendent and the School Board are challenged with a district that is in financial crisis let’s not lose sight of the fact that schools like Kaiser are serving the students that attend. Kaiser’s accomplishments were recognized this year and it was named A California Distinguished School. I am surprised and quite frankly exhausted by the constant upheaval that our community has faced over the last year. The decision to consolidate a teacher at Kaiser Elementary due to low enrollment (only three students short by the way) I would argue is a direct consequence of the misguided actions taken by the board last year to close Kaiser. This absurd decision was rescinded and instead we have faced expansion or relocation as our only option. The Kaiser community has suffered as a consequence of these poorly thought out decisions by OUSD. Is this really the message that you want to send to Oakland – that arbitrary numbers are more important than serving the children and supporting the community that is a model for all Oakland schools? Shame…..

    Kaiser parent (4th grade)

  • Tom Levy

    The OUSD’s herky-jerky behavior toward Kaiser Elementary says as much about the school board and its administrative staff as it does about Kaiser’s three-student shortfall this semester. The OUSD’s lack of big-picture thinking and inability to recognize and celebrate Kaiser’s status, as a high performing California Distinguished School with a unique coalition of parents, has been consistently appalling.

    In 12 months the OUSD has pushed Kaiser from the brink of closure to the brink of merger or relocation; to fast track planning for a 100-student expansion; to now being asked to lose a teacher and a class, and expand some remaining classes to 27 or 30 students each. Absurd!

    The pall of possible closure created by the school board has continued to hang over Kaiser. It is sure to have influenced some families’ enrollment decisions and be one reason Kaiser went from an early-semester surplus of students to today’s three-student shortfall.

    As a Kaiser parent, I know my fellow parents, students and teachers at Kaiser Elementary are smart and determined enough not to take this latest example of the OUSD’s knee-jerk behavior as the final word. We hope the board and its staff will soon come to its collective senses.

    Whether this is grounds for legal action I don’t know, but it’s certainly grounds for a farcical film script. This story isn’t over. Stay tuned.

  • caroline stern

    Tony’s Smith’s “Strategic Plan” to create “Community Schools” might look good on paper but to continuously insult our teachers, stress out a committed parent group to public schools in OUSD and sacrifice our children’s education and emotional stability in our already unstable city merits a change of leadership.

  • On The Fence

    I agree with the previous posters that the policies that OUSD has implemented under the direction of Tony Smith have had serious, detrimental consequences. One need only look so far as Cleveland, Crocker and Kaiser to see an alarmingly similar trend of high functioning community schools facing dire problems as a consequence of OUSD mismanagement.

    What worries me most, however, is that even if Kaiser, Cleveland and Crocker are able to elicit a positive response from the district (as each merits), the damage to these communities has already been done. Tony Smith has tainted and marred the stable reputations of each of these schools. Each of these schools earned their successes and their good standing in their communities due to the hard work of grass root parent groups, in conjunction with the teachers and their principals. Each of these schools have suffered due to the OUSD’s mismanagement. Parents next year will remember the uncertainty and distress that Cleveland, Crocker and Kaiser families faced this year. Kaiser is a classic example of what happens when you stress a community, families who otherwise would have filled those 3 seats looked elsewhere for more stable ground.

  • Jess Forbes

    New tactic, same goal = same damage. Not a good plan OUSD!

  • J Mendoza

    OUSD keeps saying they want to find a solution to reduce the attrition within the district, yet they keep making decisions that panic the schools’staff, students and parents. No wonder why parents leave. Tony Smith wants a full service school, but our current economic times may not make this valid. I think OUSD needs to try focusing on our students’education and development. I don’t think any school should lose their teachers especially after school starts since a relationship has already developed between the students and their teacher. This could have a detrimental effect on the students and their parents. I also think this could have a domino effect on all schools affected by OUSD’s decision.

  • Adams Point Mama

    Is anyone running for school board proposing replacing Tony Smith? I haven’t seen anyone advocating that but it seems like the topic should at least be broached. His track record has been one disaster after another, and the lack of foresight or sensible planning on the part of the administration is shocking.

  • Ms. J.

    I applaud the activism on the part of the Kaiser families involved in this protest, and am moved by the eloquence of the posts above. I would only add that the focus on Kaiser (or Crocker, or, more recently and to a lesser extent, Cleveland) seems to me too narrow.

    I wrote last year to express my confusion and, yes, outrage at the consolidation of not one but two teachers at Bella Vista, which had a no less devastating effect on the students, teachers, and community there. Bella Vista has been consolidated again this year, and the fact that the families at Bella Vista have not got the same level of organization as those at Kaiser does not make the impact any less troublesome (if anything, it might be more damaging). I think I’m right in understanding that Kaiser families feel very loyal to their school and think it is a stand-out in terms of public education, and that is admirable. But schools in other parts of Oakland, whatever their struggles or successes, don’t deserve to see class sizes sky rocket or classrooms thrown into upheaval a month into school either. I wish Kaiser families the best in their fight for their school, but hope that OUSD responds to the community in a way which can extend to all the schools in Oakland, not only the ones whose families are organized, empowered, and articulate!

  • Katy Murphy

    On the subject of enrollment and student assignments:

    Date: October 4, 2012
    To: Board of Education
    From: David Kakishiba
    Re: Introduction of New Legislative Matter for October 10, 2012 Board Meeting

    I request the following new legislative matter be scheduled for action at the Board of
    Education’s regular meeting on October 24, 2012:
    Motion to refer to the Superintendent the matter of over-subscription of
    available kindergarten seats at Crocker Highlands Elementary School
    among families residing within the Crocker Highlands Elementary School
    attendance boundaries, and to report to the Board of Education at its
    regular meeting on December 12, 2012 appropriate and effective remedies
    to reduce chronic over-subscription of kindergarten seats among families
    residing within the Crocker Highlands attendance boundaries.

    This issue will be heard Oct. 24 in November.

  • Liza Lyons

    Ms. J

    I am a Kaiser parent and I thank you very much for your words and the reminder to view ourselves—-the families and teachers in this district—-as a community. We at Kaiser found ourselves compared unfavorably to other schools on the closure list and faced a backlash due to vigilant activism. It’s important that no school falls the trap of being pitted against one another. We are all in this together.

    The fact is, most schools in the district (and I noticed it was true of Bella Vista) had sizable gains in test scores over the last few years. The district had garnered recognition as the most improved urban school district in the state (and, I believe, one of the most improved in nation). It was an upward trend. When the closure “process” (if you could call it that) began, parents and teachers were very vocal about the lack of input we were allowed to give, how little our voices were heard. We and our insights, our predictions, our personal expertise, our experiences were disregarded. The process was a sledgehammer to a delicate crystal. And we told them, “You have to consider the impact on families. The families, the students, their welfare must always come first.”

    And here we are again. Number crunching, no input, delayed deadlines bringing a rush and thoughtless onslaught of upheaval and uncertainty and families that can flee. I watched footage of a school board meeting in a very successful ( granted smaller and wealthier) district. The speakers were ot yelled at, they were not led away in handcuffs for a faux pas on someone’s name, the were engaged politely by board members, they were thanked for being concerned enough to come and attend the board meeting. They were not belittled, admonished, ignored and treated as if they were an inconvenienced. They were recognized for what they are: the most important people the board members and district officials as public officials should listen to. They are the community these people truly serve.

  • Monica Yu

    Ms. J @ 17, thank you for your post. You are right – this is not just about our kids or our school. It is about whether we as a community want to stand for a strategy of closing public schools, creating instability in public schools, while allowing the virtually unchecked proliferation of charters. It’s about accountability, and putting in place policies that truly serve every child. No school deserves October upheaval, and we parents need to all stand together. We Kaiser families are with you too.

  • MJ

    Ms. J, you are so right. I am a Cleveland parent and want our teacher to stay, but I am worried about the entire district, and am particularly concerned about schools and kids whose parents aren’t able (for whatever reasons) to advocate for them in a way that is effective. A teacher who is being consolidated told me that when visiting potential schools in deep East Oakland that she could be sent to, she saw crowded classrooms, and classes that hadn’t had the same teacher for more than three days. I don’t just want justice for kids whose parents have the energy, time, and resources to mobilize and fight. I want what’s just for all of Oakland’s children. It seems that there are no winners in this fight. The way that the district has set things up, if we keep a teacher, another school, with a more vulnerable population, remains without. There has got to be a better way.

  • Turanga_Teach

    Katy, one thing to look into: do other school districts do the same kind of midyear rebalancing/consolidating that OUSD does? It’s my understanding that they don’t: instead, they look deeply at budget shortfalls and do consequence them, but it’s done more thoughtfully, through planning for the subsequent year, rather than the “oh crap, you actually can’t afford that many teachers” thing we’re doing in mid October.

    Another point of curiosity for me: since those consolidated folks are reassigned to teaching positions in the district, not dismissed, and since the Williams act requires all classrooms to be staffed by a credentialed teacher before this point in the year, how much are we actually “saving” when we do this? Are there really enough vacancies for these folks to fill, outside of special education for which they don’t necessarily even have the right credential?

    I’d be a fan of Oakland doing things differently than those around it if this meant that we were doing something BETTER than our peers. This, er, does not seem to be the case here.

  • Lisa Capuano Oler

    Imagine the stress if your school really did close!

    Katy, the list of consolidations given to you was incomplete.

  • A coding error

    … and there was no accountability for the reckless and unnecessary fearmongering of Smith and friends. He predicted a catastrophic domino effect if Lazear became charter. Has it happened?
    I remember how it was announced at the beginning of 10-11 that 20 to 30 schools would need to close. Then the charade of input gathering (if any, from friends, usual suspects or passers-by at the cost of a cold burrito). And finally we arrived in wonderland just closing 5… all of a sudden.
    Parents affected, write formal complaints. Ink and paper so it cannot be forgotten. Full service community complaint.

  • josh simpson

    I’m optimistic that the OUSD Board understands the big picture on this one – they started this process and Kaiser was harmed when they got saved from closure but without a safe status. If they don’t make the necessary budget adjustment they’ll be accountable to the public for allowing the damage to harm the school. We shall see but you can expect a whole lot of people wil be watching this carefully.

  • Adams Point Mama

    Those who were there tonight — how did each of the board members respond? This is crucial information as I decide who to vote for.

  • Yasmin Anwar

    @Adams Point Mama, it’s probably fair to say that the board members were noncommittal

  • anon79

    I think we all need to see the data before jumping to all of the conclusions about the competence of people within the district. Exactly how many students is Kaiser short? If it’s a $30K shortfall, there’s probably a trade-off somewhere that somebody is making (cutting contracts, pd, materials, teachers, aides, etc.). Katy asked a good question as well, in looking at the overall district enrollment. It’s really easy, and understandable for parents to look at a couple different schools and request additional funding. However, people in the district need to look at all schools and ideally come up with an equitable way to deal with shortfalls (and in some cases gains) in school revenues.

  • Oakland Mama

    Ms. J and others,

    We are all in this together–articulate with time and energy, or not!

    Our children and schools are what we have in common, and it is vital for us to come together as one to protest this unfair treatment by the OUSD’s mismanagement and disregard for Oakland Public School parents who faced closure (and now consolidation).

    This board race, I am going to vote for those who were (and are) against school closures (e.g., Alice Spearman and Thearse Pecot).

    Here’s more info on Thearse Pecot (she may not have the money or coterie of influential people in Rockridge like Jody London, but her heart and will are in the right place):


  • Jim Mordecai

    Did anyone pay attention to the comment by Board Member Noel Gallo made near the end of the meeting regarding the money OUSD was suppose to get from the cable company COMCAST as part of the territorial monopoly rights granted to the company.

    Furthermore, OUSD is supposed to have the right to six (6) cable channels. The bottom line the District cable rights represents money that was supposed to come to the District that seems to have been forgotten.

    Board member Gallo mentioned deal Randy Ward made with the cable company and I sure would like to know the details. Wonder how many teachers this lost money represents that might reduce combination class financial squeeze decision-making. Anybody know? Anybody interested in the District being treated fairly by COMCAST?

    Jim Mordecai

    Someone claims the difference between ignorant and stupid is that ignorant is not knowing and stupid is not caring to know. The above issue is an issue I care to learn more about and become less ignorant.

  • momaof1

    @ Comment 23: I agree, this may be the number “today”, but who were all the other schools at the 20th day? I’m sure many have and still are working at avoiding consolidation by making some very hard choices on their budgets. I they were successful, I am happy that they have found means of avoiding this kind of disruption.
    However, this does not eliminate the overarching question: if so many schools were initially “under-water” due to shortfalls in attendance, does this mean the district lost more than the 20% touted by the District last year as “acceptable losses” due to the closures? And by how much more?

  • Monica Yu

    @ Comment 30: According to Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Brigitte Marshall (in an email to one of our teachers), “this year the district’s overall student enrollment count is more than 900 students below last fall’s projections on which our budgets were built in the spring.” So, yes, I believe that means the district lost nearly 1000 students over what they anticipated and considered to be acceptable.

  • momaof1

    @ comment 30: Thank you for that insight. So, someone from OUSD, please explain to me how “acceptable losses” are – and with respect to enrollment – were in any way acceptable under any circumstance when reducing the lives of children, teachers and parents to mere numbers, fraction or percentages? Are you in the education realm? or the business realm? Choose you cant’ be both!!!!!
    Was this an easy way to make our esteemed public representatives on the board job’s easier and vote “yes” on 10/27/12? Because you certainly have not made any of our children (in any school under the cloud or consolidation, or last year of closure) or parents in this district lives easier; that is unless you wanted us to all to exercise our choice to leave?
    What I want to know is where did everyone go? Other districts? Or, more perniciously, to charter schools? Who conveniently receive ADA money from the state/district but are not held accountable, and more importantly to this topic of enrollment, provide enrollment data of any sort to the district.
    Elections are coming, we all know who’s up for re-election…..This all got started with their vote “yes” on 10/27/12.

  • momaof1

    Correction 10/27/11

  • Nontcair

    I know where you Kaiser supporters can find the extra $30K.

    Hit up #3 for the money. She claims to have three kids at the school.

    We’re NOT all in this together.

    A LGBT-friendly school. Really.

  • Oakland Mama

    Nontclair: And how do you propose we do that? Ask the mother of three to come up with $30K? (By the way, this phenomenal and articulate mother REALLY does have three, very real, children; I witness her dropping off and picking up her offspring on a daily basis. Why anyone in his right mind would even question this obviously is missing screws, not mention a human heart.)

    Stop being a hater and actually do something productive to help your fellow human beings.

  • Nontcair

    Herein lies the problem.

    You people have no problem asking the rest of us to come up with it for you.

    In reality, pushing the government to steal it from us.

    Stop hating.
    Stop hurting your fellow man.

  • Nontcair

    #30 wrote: the money OUSD was suppose to get from the cable company COMCAST as part of the territorial monopoly rights granted to the company.

    Is anyone else outraged at how public education (unions) can extort a private business?

    One would have to be a pretty big believer in the innate goodness of man to think that the education unions aren’t pulling strings in Sacramento (and Washington) to maintain their privileges.

    The cable companies have notoriously poor customer service ratings. A contributing factor to this is all the attention the cable companies have to pay to keep the local politicians happy. You know, by:

    giving money to public institutions (like OUSD)
    giving money to political campaigns
    hiring worthless in-laws of political officeholders

    Once again we see the negative consequences which occur when the government operates (or grants) territorial monopolies.

  • livegreen

    I’m a little concerned about the tenor of the discussion. Families seem to be saying the District shouldn’t do anything in reaction to changing numbers (#s it has no control over.

    And they haven’t answered the fundamental budget Q: how is Oakland going to pay for its budget shortfalls & documented higher overhead due to high school to population ratios if it can’t close schools?

    If you don’t want any school closures, the budgets GOING to b impacted somewhere else. Then you don’t want them to do that either?

    PS. I agree central Admin should b reduced. But that alone is not going to solve OUSD’s budget problems. & if these problems aren’t solved there’s going to b even bigger problems down the road.

  • Observer

    Don’t be so sure that reducing Admin costs won’t solve the budget woes. Admin costs have gone UP as has HIRING. Entire departments have been added. Not too mention the “special reserve” funding such costs as new cubicle panels that cost $75,000 to the new admin offices at the former Lakeview school.

    What should public school parents expect? They should expect their government to hold all types of public schools accountable. That means not allowing teeny, tiny Charter schools bail out money, not allowing them to hold their ADA when they unceremoniously dump their unwanted students back to the district after holding them for 20 days only to retain the money.

    There’s a lot to do before you attack the children themselves. But we never do it. We ALWAYS start in the classroom.

  • Jim Mordecai


    Posting #38 you wax regarding your philosophy that government shouldn’t grant territorial monopolies.

    But, you didn’t address the reality that until your vision of how the world should work arrives, the world operates with government allocating monopoly rights to private corporations such as COMCAST cable.

    Livegreen followed your posting with the question of how will schools be kept open and solve OUSD’s budget problems.

    Wouldn’t getting COMCAST to live up to its agreement that established its monopoly have a positive impact on the District budget? Maybe it would or maybe wouldn’t.

    I can see how someone concerned with political philosophy; and with little concern about the details of holding COMCAST’s feet to the fire and having them live up to their agreement that established their monopoly in Oakland, could care less if OUSD or COMCAST’s interest is served.

    But, I don’t understand why Superintendent Smith, and the Oakland School Board members, wouldn’t demand full disclosure of the COMCAST deal; and, furthermore would want to see that OUSD got all it was promised when COMCAST got its Oakland cable monopoly. A power such as COMCAST isn’t living up to its commitment to OUSD unless a strong demand is made. And, a famous quote defines the situation with COMCAST:

    “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
    Frederick Douglass

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    #40 wrote: not allowing [charter schools] to hold their ADA when they unceremoniously dump their unwanted students back to the district ..

    Once again we see government contractors plying their craft.

    This is why the GOP fight for more “outsourcing” (money to their friends at the expense of public unions) is NOT the taxpayer’s fight.

    It makes little difference to taxpayers whether their money is wasted on teachers or vendors.

  • Nontcair

    #39 wrote: [H]ow is Oakland going to pay for its budget shortfalls .. if it can’t close schools?

    Once again we see public education exposed as a purely *political* institution.

    The question regarding which schools to close (keep open) is one to be answered by politicians for political purposes. That is, influenced by which:

    neighborhoods hold the most political power
    schools are most/least beneficial to the unions/vendors
    schools generate the most money from Sac/DC

    That a certain school might be more convenient to the “customers” it purports to serve hardly matters.

  • Nontcair

    #40 wrote: We ALWAYS start in the classroom.

    See previous post.

    Every constituency — unions, LGBT, vendors, footballm etc, needs to be bought off.

    What kids actually learn in the classroom — which is supposed to be public education’s prime directive — is LAST in line.

    If it’s even there at all.

  • livegreen

    –The comment on panels at $75,000 each makes sense… how many are we talking about? Re the consolidation of family outreach at Lakeview, what are the costs of the former 3 sites vs. this 1 new one? (both capital cost for preparing it & operations costs after?);

    –What would the $ saved equal if OUSD were to bring Central Admin costs below the 50%(?) required by State to avoid $ penalties from the State?

    I want $ to understand and help us know where that puts us. Not general mud slinging and name calling.

    –On the flip side has Tony Smith or staff ever given a reasonable explanation of why the high admin costs r necessary? I’ve not heard one and this issue ain’t going away until he’s responsive. There might b a perfectly good reason but just ignoring the issue isn’t helping anyone.

    –Re. Charters, I agree. However I’ve also heard OUSD complain about how Charters drain money from the City and the cost formulations required from the State aren’t enought to offset OUSD costs. OUSD and the OEA r in agreement here.

    My read is It’s not OUSD driving Charters, it’s the State. & there’s plenty of times OUSD has opposed renewing Charters but the County BOE overrules them. What’s up w/that?

    On this issue OUSD needs our help in taking the battle to the Alameda County BOE. Not just flinging misplaced blanket accusations at a dart board named Tony Smith.

  • Observer

    It’s not the State, it’s the Feds mandating the state to grow the Charter “choice”. This began and was implemented with Bush (naturally as the movement got it’s initial boost from Jeb Bush and Murdoch), but the Obama administration has barely looked at the implications and keeps it going. The privatization of tax dollars under the farce of innovative education also known as the “Charter Movement” is not at all solely responsible for what is wrong with OUSD and most large public school districts. But-and this true across the country— there was evidence that public education was improving, Oakland certainly was, when the Charter Corporations took hold and went for the kill (specifically targeting Urban school districts with large numbers of impoverished people of color, most specifically African Americans. Baltimore, Washington DC, Chicago, New Orleans and Oakland were specifically chosen).

    OUSD needs to stop trying to walk the tight rope and stand up to the Feds, joining teachers and their families. Yes, they do not approve many charters and they are actually fairly good at closing bad (or criminal) schools. But that’s all they do, they do go up against Daddy.

  • Nontcair

    I don’t think Tony Smith’s family is threatened with a class/teacher consolidation disruption like the one the Kaiser parents above claim to be facing.

    Tony Smith makes a good income; you’re welcome. There’s no good reason why he — and so many like him — shouldn’t have to pay $15,000 per year for each of his kids to attend OUSD.

    And yet, when you bring up the point, opponents stand ready to accuse you of being some sort of heartless lunatic. Then they’ll tell you that the solution is a “temporary” sales tax increase on the working poor and middle class.


    Once again we see public education working for the interests of the 1%.

  • Nontcair

    #45 wrote: has Tony Smith or staff ever given a reasonable explanation of why the high admin costs r necessary?

    I can answer that for him.

    It’s because the institutional imperative is to drain as much money from the taxpayers as possible. Why hire a competent person for $40K when you can do it $125K?

    In fairness to the administrators, those bureaucrats are often profit centers.

    That’s right.

    So much of the money chewed up by OUSD comes from USG grants. Generally, those grants come with all sorts of strings regarding oversight, compliance, etc. OUSD *must* to hire bureaucrats to qualify for the money. Indeed, those positions are institutionalized in the grant itself.

    OUSD could not eliminate those positions even it if wanted to. Doing so would place OUSD in violation of the terms of the contract, and make it subject to all sorts of sanctions, like having to return the money!

    Of course, OUSD does *not* want to eliminate those positions. The district gets to charge the government an “override” on them. You know, to pay for facilities, Dr. Smith’s rarified expertise, and so forth.

    There’s that profit center.

    In contrast, teachers are pure burden. *Their* jobs are the ones which need to go.

  • oaklandedlandscape

    @observer – you should look up ca charter law. the district and counties are held to a legal standard. fiscal impact is not current grounds for denial. parents vote with their feet.

  • J.R.

    You wrote ” The privatization of tax dollars under the farce of innovative education also known as the “Charter Movement” is not at all solely responsible for what is wrong with OUSD and most large public school districts.

    It may be hard for you to fathom, but the charter movement is not “at all” for what is wrong with school districts. Carters have only been around for a decade and a half, while OUSD and many other districts have struggled for decades before anyone ever heard the words charter or reform.

    Another point is the over the top arrogance of the education aristocracy(and unions as well) to believe that the ADA tax money “belongs to them in perpetuity with raises” without any strings attached irregardless of failure. I have news for you, that money belongs to US citizen taxpayers who have earned it by the sweat of their brow(and by extension their children).