Oakland schools, students step up to host candidate forums

Life Academy school board candidate forum
photo courtesy of Preston Thomas, Life Academy

Students at Oakland’s Life Academy of Health and Bioscience interviewed District 5 city council and school board candidates Thursday night in a public forum they organized.

Principal Preston Thomas described the event as “totally authentic and student-led.”

“This was a great example of what it means to be a full service community school,” he wrote in the email he sent to me afterward.

If you missed it, here are some other election-related events:

  •  Tomorrow afternoon (Saturday) at Castlemont High School (8601 MacArthur Blvd), coordinated by the Black Organizing Project — this one for candidates in all school board districts. Lunch at noon, forum from 1-3 p.m.
  • 8:45 to 10 on Tuesday morning, Lighthouse Community Charter School (444 Hegenberger Road) holds a public forum for school board candidates in District 5 and District 7.
  • A rally at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday) at Oakland High School in support of Measure J, a school bond measure on the November ballot.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nontcair

    a full service community school

    “Full-service”, meaning “high cost”.


    What in the world does hosting a political event like this have to do with teaching Johnny how to read?

    Why do these political candidates always avail themselves of taxpayer funded facilities? Why can’t one of their cronies host a $1,000 per plate private fundraiser at a private residence or banquet hall?

    When you see the ease with which these guys waste taxpayer dollars when they’re *candidates* you immediately know how profligate they’ll be after they take office.

  • Ex-Oakland staff

    Dear Nontcair,
    1) Definitely not “high cost.” The event took place at a time when the building was not being used for teaching, which means that the facilities were used in an efficient manner. The event was organized by students, not paid staff.
    2) The public school curriculum includes subjects other than reading. Civics is part of the state standards. Citizenship training has been one of the principal tasks of public education since the founding of the republic.
    3) An election is public business. A public building is the proper place for it. It would be un-democratic to limit access to the candidates to those who could pay $1000 for a fund-raiser.
    4) Can you please provide evidence of waste involved in this event? It appears to be a modest event in a school gym, run by student volunteers, during the week, which means that there would not have even have been costs incurred for extra custodian hours.

  • Nontcair

    The event took place at a time when the building was not being used for teaching

    The government MO is always the same: the politicians sell a new bureaucracy to a gullible voting public by representing that the institution will:

    be highly focused on a “limited” mission
    have a low cost
    fill an essential need that the free market can’t

    Then as soon as it becomes established they find all sorts of extra items to justify an unbridled *expansion* of that same bureaucracy, which in Orwellian fashion, they promote as “efficiency”.

    We don’t need public schools serving as “centerpieces of our communities”, ersatz Faneuil Halls, or whatever.

    Some municipalities already have large civic auditoria (or small community centers) for these kinds of political functions. And there’s *nothing* to stop the politicians from standing on a soapbox on the steps of city hall.

    A “full service” school us one which doesn’t limit itself to the nonsexy, cheap, and prosaic task of teaching Johnny how to read. Indeed, it has all but DISAVOWED that straightforward task.

    Nope. It takes upon itself all sorts of expensive other political functions, only a few of which (like Wolfgang Puck lunch menus and townhall meetings) have been documented in these fora.