Another big donation to Great Oakland Public Schools PAC

This week’s campaign filings show another major donation to the Great Oakland Public Schools PAC — $49,995 from the California Charter Schools Association. That brings the group’s fundraising total to $184,980 — a staggering amount for local school board races. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, when the total was about $123,000.

The GO PAC is supporting three candidates: Jumoke Hinton Hodge in District 3, Rosie Torres in District 5, and James Harris in District 7. It’s supporting neither candidate in District 1.

GO’s director, Jonathan Klein, stressed in a recent letter he posted on an Oakland parents email list that GO is in favor of both charters and traditional public schools, that its staff and board members are Democrats, and that the group is being supported by volunteers from across the city (Policy platform here.):

Folks on this list have also asked questions about our organization’s funding and policy agenda. While these school board races are non-partisan elections and we are a non-partisan organization, everyone on our staff and board are Democrats.

With respect to charter schools. We do not advocate for charter schools over district schools. It always has been our position to work for high quality schools. In our experience, most parents do not make distinctions and neither do we. The vast majority of our organization’s energy is spent working to support OUSD and the implementation of the Thriving Students strategic plan. We do not support for-profit charter schools and are glad to live in a city where these schools do not exist.

Klein also had this to say about the PAC, itself:

We–like many Oakland organizations such as the Ella Baker Center, Sierra Club, and the Oakland Education Association–formed a political action committee to give our members a way to engage in partisan elections. We have received over 200 grassroots contributions — probably at least 95 percent of them are from Democrats. Our 501(c)(4) has received hundreds more grassroots contributions – some as small as $3 from an OUSD parent who attended our District 5 endorsement interviews. There are OUSD teachers who have been giving $50 per month to this work because they know the importance of having a strong school board.

Over the past month, an average of over 60 volunteers per week have been stepping up to support our endorsed candidates. This last week, there were over 100 volunteers engaging in our phone banks and precinct walks.

He added, “We are Oakland parents, teachers, and community members who want to see our public schools thrive.”

What do you make of this contribution? Given that one in every four Oakland public school children attends a charter school this year (including county-approved charters), do you feel it’s time for the board to embrace this option — or to do what it can to hold the line against their continued expansion?

Katy Murphy

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

  • Observer

    Do way more than hold the line against their continued expansion and stand up and get involved in the fight against the privatization of public money.

    Oakland has been targeted along with New Orleans, Baltimore,Atlanta and a host of towns. But Oakland could be the place that sponsors the showdown and radically stands up against charters. It has the political heritage and the enough of a progressive population to do it.

  • oaklandedlandscape

    The people of Oakland should stand up for great schools. Time to embrace the change. Shouldn’t be one or the other. We all have a tremendous opportunity to learn from one another, doing what is best for all Oakland students.

  • educator

    GO Public Schools, and their position that ALL students deserve a high quality education, should be embraced by anyone who cares about our children and youth. Enough of the petty bickering about charters vs. traditional public and how ’bout we just focus on who matters the most: students.
    The board does need to embrace the option of charter schools. Clearly the parents in Oakland are voting with their feet. Instead of the conversation being how to marginalize, ignore, fight against the groundswell of charters in Oakland, the conversation should be, “What can we all learn from each other? What is working that can be shared?” for the betterment of all.
    Shifting the conversation to that will take board leadership. It’s about time for a positive, forward looking change.

  • Observer

    The parents are being led to charters with a carrot and a stick.

    Oakland schools “were” improving, in fact they were improving a great deal a few years after the state takeover. Until the district was specifically attacked by national charter corporate conglomerates. “non profits” my foot.

  • Nontcair

    Don’t vote for any candidate for school board who supports the existence of public charter schools.

    Don’t vote for any candidate for school board who supports the existence of public traditional schools.

    The only candidate worth considering is the guy who pledges to work to reduce OUSD to its constitutional minimum of ONE school.

    Sorry, but if elected, I will not serve.

  • Troubled

    Frankly, I find this level of money being poured into a local election to be very troubling.

  • DistrictEducator

    I can understand why the amount of money in this school board election could feel troubling to some. But the facts are this:
    *GO is a community-based non-profit that was formed to find ways to support a better education for students. This is not a charter vs. district conversation for them.
    *GO has pursued various routes to improve our schools, particularly our district schools, and saw that policy at the board level was a key factor in why our Oakland schools struggle.
    So, GO invested their time and collected money to try and help shed light, put pressure, and change that.
    There’s no other ulterior motive. When we get caught in the district vs. charter fight, we are ignoring the needs of kids. Even the Tribune’s endorsement of exactly the same candidates that GO endorses shows that this isn’t about district vs. charter, but about strong and competent leadership: http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_21889484/oakland-tribune-editorial-oakland-schools-need-calm-steady?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com
    Until every school in Oakland – district or charter – is one in which you would send your kids and that actually provides college-ready education, we haven’t done enough.

  • J.R.

    DistrictEd posted
    “Until every school in Oakland – district or charter – is one in which you would send your kids and that actually provides college-ready education, we haven’t done enough”.

    Exactly right!
    Just look at the decades long miserable track record of the public schools(grad rates, dropouts, levels of remediation in college). This is about much more than test results, this is about kids not being prepared for life. The assertion that things were getting better is just a large dose of manipulated smoke and mirrors(with exceptions of course).




    Another problem is Spec ed criteria is too broad, and many kids who are basically normal are wrongfully included in spec ed. This bumps up costs and allows more kids to take the easier version of standardized tests.


  • J.R.




    Of course making these issues much worse is the unfunded mandate that we educate those kids who are illegally in this country.

  • Observer

    #7 Right. That’s why 99.9% of the money GO has raised comes from individuals and organizations that seek to privatize the public school system in Oakland (using tax payer dollars).

    Sorry, but GO needs to re-evaluate this party line and either not take the donations or accept the fact that if they are to exist, they are a union busting, pro charter organization because that is the outcome if their actions.

    If the 3 candidates are elected, we will no longer have a board that has consistently denied charter applications (with the exception if Hodge who voted for every single one and has not put one of her four children in an Oakland public school, the only member not to do so. In fact, I don’t believe Hodge has attended public school herself?).

    Again, if the GO sponsored candidates are elected, you will see a corporate run school system. All public schools will lose, including the top tiers like Chabot, Hillcrest, Peralta, Brewer, etc. The availability of funds for excellent programs in high schools like Padeia at Tech will whither.

    Remember, the charter movement does not seek to educate middle class families. The golden apple is to educate the working class to the impoverished. This is because more federal funding grants and private grants are available to this group. That is why there is two –out of over 40—–TWO charter schools in Oakland that have a significant percentage of middle class families.

  • J.R.
  • Jim Mordecai


    Jonathan Klein, GO CEO testified against AB 5 Teacher evaluation making the point that teacher evaluation needs to be tied to student test score.

    The point here is that GO in proclaiming its goal as Great Oakland Public Schools doesn’t define what it thinks makes Oakland Public Schools great.

    In fact its title is very clever because behind its title is accepting the assertion that charter schools are public schools. But, the whole story is that charter schools are in fact publicly funded and privatively managed or mismanaged. Saying charter schools are public schools is not the whole story and misleading as to privatizing their management.

    It is GO’s actions and not its title are the basis of judging what GO is about.

    GO’s actions show that its leadership believes in the “no excuses” philosophy as basis of educational reform; and that no excuses philosophy naturally led to Jonathan Klein testifying against AB 5.

    Michelle Rhee and others in the no excuse camp were successful in their effort to block passage of AB 5. The AB 5 proposed reform to state law on teacher evaluation was without student test score component it and therefore wasn’t the reform they of the “no excuses” reform want.

    But, the bottom line here isn’t just with the details of the GO “no excuses” school of reform but it is with the issue of charter schools. And, with the huge amount of charter school influenced big money in the GO PAC the defenders of GO claiming charter school neutrality on the issue of charter schools doesn’t add up.

    And, if the GO endorsed candidates claim ignorance of GO’s values and actions, shouldn’t that alone be troublesome?

    Jim Mordecai

  • J.R.

    Observe this:

    95%+ of the taxpayer funded union dues(targeted for political purposes aside from funding these bureaucracies) confiscated by the NEA,CTA, and or local unions go to democratic politicians or causes and measures. What can we deduce from that? The education establishment desires status-quo and monopoly status(irregardless of performance). They want to keep the golden apple all to themselves, and want the the taxpayer to “just pay and shut up”. We will be diverted no longer, the time for learning is now. Too much time has been wasted.

  • Observer

    We have been in the grip of Right Wing Education reform since Bush Sr. That’s over two decades. You’re right- we should not take it any longer.

  • Kristen Caven

    I think if GO were 100% clear on supporting teacher’s rights, that would boost Jonathan’s statements about the organization, build a wall against money with strings, and allow the discussion of charter schools to take a better direction.

    Charter schools (and remember magnet schools?) are a good idea at heart that has been commandeered by a right-wing agenda of privatizing (and de-unionizing) schools nationwide at the public’s expense.

    I think GO should return the donation because it damages GO’s stated neutrality.

  • J.R.

    Charters and charter law have been around since the mid 90’s(and not in appreciable numbers until 2000), and this district and others in California have been under-performing since the 70’s and even late 60’s. We have been pumping in billions of dollars(much more than other countries in that span, and we have been rewarded with mediocrity on the whole.

  • Oakland Kids Deserve Better

    So, if a group comprised of parents and community members comes out in great numbers to support a school board election AND gives money to an organization other than the union, what might the union garner from that action?

    Maybe, just maybe, it’s because we believe we should have a choice when voting for school board, that we believe the election should decide who belongs on the school board, and that putting good people on the school board will allow the best decisions to be made on behalf of all Oakland students.

    People trying to make this election out as a Battle Royale between public schools and public charter schools are missing the point entirely. Both types of schools can and do co-exist in this city, learn from each other, have parental supporters, and are serving students. GO is making it possible for parents to have a voice and a choice in this election.

    This community is sick and tired of OEA and others hijacking this conversation and making it about something it is not. Get out and read about the candidates, the incumbents’ track records, and vote, as now there are some choices!

  • oaklandedlandscape

    This is not a public charter / public district issue. That is smoke and mirrors. This is about great schools for all Oakland students. The honest truth is that OUSD district schools are in trouble. Even with the current board, they were not able to get OEA sign off for RTTT. While folks argue over private vs. public, 75% of our students are behind left behind. Charters are forging new ground, and we have a tremendous opportunity to learn from one another.

    I suggest you visit a charter school. Visit a district school. Oakland students – Oakland teachers. The rhetoric on this blog is not what you hear in schools. Teachers want to collaborate. Leaders want to collaborate.

    We need a new board that will work to ensure that we are moving forward, and unified as one community. See you on November 6th!

  • Rumor Has It

    Thank you Jim and Observer for speaking out about the platform of GO and other organizations that seek to directly or indirectly foster the privatization of our public school system. Privatizing public education will be a game changer for our society and will not serve the children/families/public, but only those who stand to profit from the ever emerging education industry $$$. I know that parents need to seek the best education for their children NOW, but I hope that people can think ahead to the implications of what their choices will mean for the future of education.

    As an aside, I found the Oakland Tribune endorsement mentioned above in post #7 troubling to say the least. I found their analysis to be scant and superficial. Besides endorsing GO candidates, they also largely promoted those candidates who will be docile followers of Tony Smith’s agenda. How about the many of us who support public education, BUT think that Tony Smith is making a royal mess of our already beleaguered district? Busy parents and community members may look to the newspaper to inform their decisions — tragic.

  • Jim Mordecai


    O.K. the GO candidates according to your words are “colaborators”.

    Therefore, how is colaborating with 40 charter schools of Oakland not the issue?

    Growth of charter schools is at the District expensive and associated with school closures among other stresses to the District budget.

    The smoke and mirrors is provided by the charter school supporters.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Observer

    Only when compared to countries that ALSO fund:



    Family Leave



    Unless you want to throw in China. Do you really want that?

    Our country is run by old men that don’t believe in dual income families, but at the same time tweak the economic waves that mandate dual incomes.

    We have been defunding public education from the levels of the 70s since Reagan.

  • Observer

    I have visited the following Charters:

    Civicorps (whoops!)
    American Indian
    Manzanita SEED

    I found they all extremely different from one another with few commonalities. To me, that struck me as strange. With the exception of NOCCS and KIPP to a lessor extent, they felt much more like idelogical experiments and opposed to structured earning environments. AIPCS was militant. JMO.

    GO, you are simply going to have to address that you are now almost solely financed by backers of the privatazation of education movement. It is not a group comprised of concerned parents; it is a group comprised of parents taking money from corporate interests and until you address own that, you have no credibility.

  • Observer

    as opposed to structured learning environments (phone and big fingers!)

  • oaklandedlandscape

    @Observer – Manzanita SEED is a district school. Not much else there in your reflection. The schools are different. That is the point.

    @Jim – Ask yourself one question – What drives parents to greats schools (and these may be charters)? You can (and probably will) defend OUSD until the cows come home. When will you stop blaming charters and start advocating for all Oakland students?

  • J.R.

    All you are accomplishing is causing tax-paying people to really question the motives of the education establishment,union’s,and the politicians that support them without reservation. So go ahead and keep making my argument for me. You take your side and I’ll just stand for what works in the best interest of the children.

  • J.R.

    I know you would love us to fund 20-30k per child(LAUSD is getting up in that rarified air), but that would be unsustainable, and furthermore money is not the most important factor(the children do have most of what is necessary in order to learn). If we were to downsize the waste and duplicity of the education bureaucracy and structure that has nothing to do with the child in the classroom perhaps then there would be sufficient resources to keep more teachers and smaller class sizes.

  • Observer

    And that’s Charter schools? Show me the evidence of that please.

    #24- You are correct. I meant the one that is now housed in the old Maxwell Park building. Cannot remember the name of it (theres so many that come and go, change their names, their staff depending on the wind it seems).My refelcetion is that Charter schools in Oakland seek to serve one type of student and no others. There was zero diversity: racial, cultural or socioeconomic with the exception of NOCCS (which had nearly zero socioeconomic diversity). If the Charter schools are so great, how come the waiting lists at Chabot, Hillcrest, Peralta, Redwood Heights, Thornhill, Montclair, Edna Brewer and a small handfull of others continue to grow? Why are those families not finding the Charters up to snuff when they compare them to the Hills schools? I really am curious why you think that is?

    And, JR, who exactly are public schools giving a mediocre education to and how is that shown? Is the socioeconomic group that traditionally went into blue collar, manufacturing and trade employment? Because it certainly has not had an effect on those folks who have always reared their children to be college bound as evidence by too many qualified applicants for too few spots at both top public and private universtites. Those jobs are no longer widely available and we are left with far lower paying, unsecure service sector employment. Where did those jobs go and who is responsible for that loss and why?

    Couple that with the massive growth in the prison industrial complex and well, this is what you get. In all this talk against teacher’s unions, where is the backlash against the even more powerful and welathier prison guard movement? You do not think there’s no connection, do you?

    Seems to me it’s same folks behind the fleecing of public tax dollars under the guise of “educating the under-served”.

  • Observer

    JR: Agreed! I’m certain we can agree that it’s not my children’s teahers (one is in her 4th year, $45k and the other is over 10 $62K) that is the waste. The bureacrats that keep coming to tell us we are 1.5% over budget and therefore must have class sizes exceeding 32, who do not even pay for the repairs of broken windows, peeling paint much less proper playground equipment yet make well over $150k a year? Hm.

  • oaklandedlandscape

    @Observer – A district school is now located at Maxwell site (Melrose Leadership Academy). Moving on, the district schools you reference are all in the hills. If you live in the hills, that’s where you go to school. Most charters are in the flat lands. These schools reflect that demographic. Many OUSD schools are serving students well. Many parents simply choose charters because they have a choice. Look at the district high school drop out rates for black and brown males. We all hope to see a day when all public district and public charters have wait lists. Not there yet. Not even close.

  • Oakland Kids Deserve Better

    Wow. I thought this conversation was about the school board election and making good choices for kids and families. Why must the old guard in OUSD continue to moan and complain without moving the dialogue (and ultimately the district) forward?

    Seems to me, many of the high performing charter schools in Oakland have wait lists and have for years. Isn’t it about time to recognize that some charter schools in Oakland are doing a remarkable job educating students and offering parents a choice?

    Don’t we want a good education and choices for all Oakland kids? Is there any room in the OEA’s mindset for what’s not just good for teachers, but also good for kids? This is a school board election, not a union meeting. I’m grateful that finally this community is participating in the election and not just letting the union control the dialogue anymore.

  • Marc Tafolla

    Mr. Mordecai,

    Since you bring up AB5 regarding teacher evaluations, I want to share a little perspective re GO’s position. Since I know that facts and accurate language are important you. Our Executive Director, Jonathan, did not testify regarding AB5. GO did sign on to a letter of opposition, if that is what you meant to communicate.
    In your portrayal of GO as opposing the bill based on test scores alone – you misconstrue the foundation of our opposition as well as the breadth of the opposition to the bill.

    We thought that AB 5 was a deeply important and deeply flawed California bill. So did others.

    For example, editorial boards from around the state weighed in to oppose this bill:

    Sacramento Bee: Take time to do teacher eval bill the right

    La Opinion: Nightmare legislation

    SF Chronicle: AB 5 should be voted down

    Great Oakland Public Schools joined the California State PTA, ACSA, CSBA, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a long list of organizations opposing AB5, including:
    • Alliance for a Better Community
    • Association of California School Administrators
    • Bay Area Council
    • California Association of School Business Officials
    • California Association of Suburban Schools
    • California County Superintendents Educational Services Association
    • California School Boards Association
    • California State PTA
    • Central Valley Education Coalition
    • Children Now
    • Democrats for Education Reform
    • Ed Voice
    • Educate our State
    • Educators 4 Excellence
    • El Dorado County Office of Education
    • Families in Schools
    • Great Oakland Public Schools
    • Green Dot Public Schools
    • Kern County Superintendent of Schools
    • Los Angeles County Office of Education Supt. of Schools, Arturo Delgado
    • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa
    • Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John E. Deasy
    • Parents Advocate League
    • Riverside County Office of Education
    • Riverside County School Superintendents’ Association
    • Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Kenneth M. Young
    • San Bernardino County District Advocates for Better Schools
    • San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools
    • San Diego County Office of Education
    • San Francisco Unified School District
    • School Employers Association of California
    • Small Schools Districts’ Association
    • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
    • Students First
    • Students Matter
    • Teach +Plus
    • The Education Trust West
    • United Way of Greater Los Angeles

    As you see, GO was not alone in its opposition to this bill.

    Thank you,

    Marc Tafolla
    Policy Director, Great Oakland Public Schools

  • Marc Tafolla

    Mr. Mordecai,

    Additionally, the circumstances of AB5’s movement through the legislature was highly irregular. The bill sat dormant for months, then days before the close of session, it was reworked and hurried through various committees with amendments being promised left and right to address concerns that people were raising. Legislation was hastily drafted and redrafted. Hearings were called on very short notice. People whose entire job it is to track these developments could barely keep abreast of what was happening.

    In fact so many amendments were being offered that the Wednesday night before the close of session–at 8:00 P.M., at the meeting called with no more than 30 minutes notice–the Senate Education Committee voted to advance AB 5 without even having the language of some promised amendments in front of them to read.
    Below is a list of issues that we and others thought should be addressed before bill passed. We support working toward improvement of the teacher evaluation system and view evaluations as part of an ongoing process for professional development.

    However, as of the night before the vote, and not knowing what the actual last minute amendments will be, we felt that AB 5 (as drafted) was not a good bill for students for many reasons, including the following:
    • AB 5 imposed a costly mandate on all districts but provides funding only for start-up costs at schools that receive QEIA funds.
    • AB 5 removed local decision making for additional QEIA monies by directing those funds towards implementing a new teacher evaluation system.
    • AB 5 prohibited the State Board of Education from waiving the best practices teacher evaluation system in order for a school district to add additional measurements.
    • AB 5 reduced local control by limiting the ability of local governing boards to act on objective data to hold employees accountable.
    • AB 5 did not meet federal requirements in order for California to receive the federal NCLB waiver.
    • AB 5 prevented any meaningful gauge of student growth in evaluations and invited disputes over allowable evidence of student learning.
    • AB 5 expanded the scope of collective bargaining for school districts. Evaluation criteria and standards for satisfactory performance would be subjects of bargaining, weakening an LEA’s ability to hold teachers accountable.
    • AB 5 repealed grade level proficiency. There would no longer be a default provision in California law requiring performance evaluations of teachers and principals to include the assessment of the progress of pupils toward expected grade level achievement.
    • AB 5 placed the program under the new mandate block grant replacing the less costly Stull Act. The new block grant would need to be adjusted to reflect the increase in mandates resulting from AB 5 estimated to be $18 million annually with some estimates considerably higher.

    Please forgive any error in highlighting concerns that were addressed by last minute amendments. It was very difficult to keep pace with all of the on-the-fly promises that were being made to address concerns Senators had about the bill– especially given its importance.


    Marc Tafolla
    Policy Director
    Great Oakland Public Schools

  • Marc Tafolla

    Mr. Mordecai,

    Since you choose to consistently promote that we are only focused on test scores, I’d also like to take a moment to share our actual perspective. From a FAQ on our website, we elaborate that:

    “First, to be clear, a teacher’s evaluation should be one part of a professional growth system whose purpose is to (1) support and develop the teachers who have chosen to serve Oakland’s students; and (2) ensure that students are achieving.

    As a part of that evaluation, we believe that state test scores are one of multiple measures (including, for example, student portfolios, benchmark assessments, and peer, student, parent, and administrative feedback) that should be included. We believe that student test scores on state assessments are relevant to talking about teacher effectiveness, but not reliable enough to be the sole or even predominate basis for measuring teacher effectiveness. We believe that assessment of student achievement should be focused on student growth over time which allows for more analysis of where a given teacher’s students started when they walked into his or her classroom. There are promising models emerging from around the country such as the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) programs in San Juan and Poway and The College Ready Promise Program.

    Additionally, we believe that there are strong models and frameworks for effective teaching that, if adopted by a district, would help establish clear expectations and help align professional development to actual teacher need in a systematic way that is focused on the core skills (and art) of instruction.”

    Further, we understand that any existing system would have to be adapted from its place of origin to address Oakland’s needs. However, we think that the learning and development in this field provide promising starting points for collaboration around the development of a true professional growth system that values support for teachers.

    I hope that clarifies our position a bit.


    Marc Tafolla
    Policy Director
    Great Oakland Public Schools

  • Doug Appel

    Mr. Tafolla and others;

    The conversation here seems to have wandered very far from Katy’s original post.

    How do Oaklanders feel about a handful of wealthy individuals (and a charter school organization) attempting to buy a school board race? What do those individuals expect to gain from such a purchase?

    The fact is, these contributions come from folks who have a clear agenda of taking public monies (read tax dollars) and directing it to privately managed corporations on the theory that the magic of the marketplace will produce better results. The evidence from many studies is that this true about 20% of the time. But the ideology has big money behind it, so the myth persists.

    There are good charters and good charters operators, there are mediocre ones and there are poor ones. Just like other public (and private) schools. What charters don’t have that other public schools do is clear public oversight from elected representative. That’s how you wind up with messes like occured at American Indian, where almost $4 million appears to have been pocketed by one family.

    Millionaires have contributed a huge amount of money to this race. Doesn’t it appear naive to believe that these individuals don’t have some purpose in mind that goes beyond a desire to “help Oakland’s students?”

    As Marc knows, GO and OEA have done some minor collaboration together during the campaign around Prop 30 and Measure J. Many of GO’s stated goals and policies may well align with OEA/CTA’s. I hope we find opportunities for dialogue and joint work which does benefit all of Oakland’s students. And while I hope that Marc’s pronouncements about GO’s independence and good intentions prove true, I can’t help but expect that their funders will have something to say about it.

    Doug Appel
    CTA Staff

  • tobefair

    It’s a bit much for someone from the CTA to say that organizations that contribute to PACs are trying to “buy” a school board race. What did CTA expect to gain from its $70,000 donation to United Educators of SF Candidate PAC three weeks ago? That, along with the CTA’s other PAC donations, can be viewed at the following website:

    For the record, both of my kids are in public, district schools. I just can’t stand hypocrites.

  • Max Allstadt

    If you want to stop GO public schools’ big mine campaign, please, get off this website, and get on the phone to the campaign of a candidate you support. Volunteer to phone bank or walk door to door. That will work. Debating in this site will have a negligible affect at best.

    Get out there and volunteer for a campaign

  • Educatedvoter

    I don’t agree with everything, but I respect the process that GO went through to endorse school board candidates. They interviewed all of the candidates, asked them to answer questions in writing (holding them accountable to their positions), made that information publicly available, hosted public conversations, asked for input from hundreds of district stakeholders, and then finally made a decision about who to endorse. When else have you seen an organization be so thoughtful about School Board races? They are raising money for these races because they truly care about the outcome for kids and teachers, which is refreshing.

    I went to one of those community meetings about the school board candidate endorsements and every person in the room was directly connected to Oakland Public Schools. I’m fairly certain that there was no one in the room from a charter school, and although I didn’t ask each person in the room which party they tend to vote with, I can guarantee you that the vast majority, if not everyone, was lower to middle income democrats who either teach or have children in Oakland district schools.

    I believe the endorsement selections were made long before a few big donors stepped in to support the cause of electing strong board members. (The fact that 8 of the last 14 school board races were uncontested speaks to the need for more interest in them from all sides.) We should hold GO accountable to continue that kind of transparency and community decision-making and ensure that they are not “bought” by big funders in the future, but I definitely don’t think that happened this time.

    Now the Tribute has endorsed the same candidates after their own review (http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_21889484/oakland-tribune-editorial-oakland-schools-need-calm-steady?IADID=Search-www.insidebayarea.com-www.insidebayarea.com)

    Everyone is obviously entitled to their own opinion, but at least GO went to the trouble of asking candidates about their actual position on issues and making that information public to help voters make an informed decision about this important issue. I respect and appreciate that and would like to see this conversation be less partisan and focused on real issues that actually affect the quality of education in Oakland, especially for those most underserved by our current system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BridgetheChasm Charlie at Bridge the Chasm

    Thanks Max

  • Doug Appel

    Tobefair: I identified myself using my real name and my employment so as to be clear and transparent as to my interests. CTA supports candidates and ballot measures it believes will improve the conditions for teaching and learning. Others may view that statement cynically, but it is how we view those political issues we support and oppose. Our funds come from small contributions from our members. Proposition 32 would prevent us from doing continuing to do so–but not Arthur Rock or Gary Rogers.

    Max: I have spent every weekend (and many weeknights) this past two months working to support the candidates and issues I feel strongly about. I just happen to have a enough energy left over to make the occasional posting in public blogs.

  • Jim Mordecai


    Perhaps all are not as educated as you as to the part of Jonathan Klein’s biography left out on the GO webpage. Sharon Higgins rsponded to a my question on another list service as to whether Jonathan Klein has worked at OUSD as a Broad Foundation intern is a part of Jonathan Klein’s biography you may know but many other voters may not know. This was her reply to my question:

    FROM:Sharon Higgins Wednesday, October 31, 2012 5:47

    Jonathan Klein absolutely was a Broad Resident.

    He served under all three Broad State Administrators as Special Assistant. I believe he arrived at the later stage of Randy Ward’s term.

    His wife, Amanda Klein, is the founding Executive Director of Urban Montessori, the brand new Alameda County Office of Education-approved charter school which acquired the site on International Blvd, formerly occupied by LIFE Academy.

    After leaving Oakland Unified, Klein became the Executive Director of the Oakland Small Schools Foundation. He also has been involved with Revolution Foods, the company that provides meals to the growing number of charter schools, along with some private schools.

    He is also Chief Program Officer of the Rogers Family Foundation. T. Gary Rogers is the patriarch, former CEO of Dreyer’s Ice Cream. Brian Rogers is his son and founder of the two Lighthouse Community Charter Schools (a K-8 and a 9-12). Lighthouse used to be in downtown Oakland but moved a few years ago to a newly renovated industrial building on Hegenberger, close to the southwest corner of the Walmart intersection.

    You state Educatedvoter that you want: “focused on real issues that actually affect the quality of education in Oakland, especially for those most underserved by our current system.”

    I guess we differ in that the voters should know as much as possible about GO and its leadership as well as its funding.

    And, here is a “real issue” that impacted not only “those underserved by our current system” but all students in OUSD, when Jumoke Hinton-Hodge and the rest of her Board Members spent $50,000 on a consultant for a charter school to get started. How did the Board serve the interest of all OUSD students by spending its general fund on a charter school? The state provides start up loans for charter schools, so why did OUSD pop for $50,000.

    I guess Jumoke Hinton-Hodge was modeling behavior the Tribune’s editor would support: using public money intended for OUSD to support privately managed charter school.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    Of course GOPS opposes “for-profit” charter schools.

    The elites *always* support socialism (guarenteed profits) for themselves, competition (with risk of loss) for everyone else._

  • livegreen

    I must agree with those who argue for a middle ground, and it is about supporting good schools, b they traditional public or charter. We have neighbors who have done one, we have neighbors who have done the other. We have neighbors who have done both. What is common is they’re all going to public school and staying in Oakland to do so.

    I have heard OUSD officials argue against auto-approval of charters ( only to be repeatedly overruled by Alameda County BOE) and that the formula for charters reimbursing OUSD for facility costs does not really do so.

    & I have seen GO organize a conference at Edna Brewer to engage District Officials and have heard theyve done the same at other traditional Public Schools. They have been clear that they want all Oakland PS’s to be successful. Clearly this is not the Privatize Everything organization that the OEA wants to make them out to be. & clearly this issue is more complex than that as well.

    Having listened to some of the Candidates GO has endorsed (for my own info & reasons, nothing to do with those of GO) , I have concluded these are clearly liberal and clearly independent thinkers who wish the best for Oakland students and families. I have heard at least two of them (Hodge & Rosie) argue for “equity” for schools in poorer parts of the district.

    They are clearly not the evil candidates supported by evil corporations that the OEA would have us believe. & the issues are not as simple and all or nothing as the OEA or right wing nut jobs would have us believe.

    JR is right…the OEA is marginalizing itself.

  • Too many charters?

    Of course we all want great schools for our kids, although there certainly is a difference of opinion about how to get there. Seems that there may be a role that charters can play in innovating and providing alternatives for students who might need a different kind of learning environment. What concerns me is that the path OUSD is on seems unsustainable, with 25% of the schools being charters, the highest proportion of any district in the state. Having this large a proportion of students going to charters drains resources at traditional public schools and eliminates families’ opportunities to choose a neighborhood district school if they want to, let alone the district’s ability to ensure all kids receive a quality education where a quarter of kids attend schools beyond the district’s oversight. For example, the Lazear parents and students adamantly protested closure of their neighborhood public school to no avail and as a result, many have opted to attend the new Lazear charter school in the same building. Is that voting with their feet? Seems more like they were left with no choice. This is a point that I have heard District 5 candidate Mike Hutchinson make at a recent forum – that until we have a thorough analysis of the impact of the proliferation of charters, the board should place a moratorium on their expansion. This is probably a reason why we see so much pro-charter money for his opponent.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BridgetheChasm Charlie at Bridge the Chasm

    Charter Schools seem to have had little effect on the drop-out rate for African-America boys in Oakland. This problem is unique to Oakland and the inner city. If we are really going to make permanent change, we need to fix that problem. I have tutored, in math and life, two middle school age African-American boys who are both willing and able to succeed. Both attended and were later kicked out of Charter Schools. Both passed through St. Anthony’s on West St. One ended up at Westlake and I fear the other is on the street. While their expulsions were justified, the Charter School was allowed to give up. For the one at Westlake, the OUSD is his only hope. In both cases the parents have not exhibited the ability to successfully guide their child’s education.

    If Charters will not commit to solving the drop-out rate, they will never be the solution for Oakland.

    Are the teacher’s the problem? People go into teaching to teach, not to teach in Charters or be part of a union. The same Teachers teach in the Charters and the public schools. All the Union does is make sure the Teachers are treated fairly.

    Charter School’s can’t fix the drop-out rate, the Oakland School Board can. That’s what this election is about. If we elect a Board committed to Charters instead of ending the drop-out rate, we are going to get four more years of smart ideas and no solution.

    Don’t kid yourselves, African-American boys who drop-out become the criminals on the street. Four more years of failure means 400 more dead, maybe not now, but in the near future. It means 4,000 more going to prison for the first time.

    A School Board that will focus on African-American boys learning the fundamentals in elementary school, and thereby not dropping-out later, needs to be elected.

    Minority school closures won’t solve the drop-out rate and may make it worse. Charters have demonstrated they are not the answer. Elect those who fought school closures, those who will bring the commitment to having all students learn the fundamentals in elementary school.

  • Jim Mordecai


    My view is not OEA policy and OEA President Trish Gorham speaks for OEA.

    But, in my view there cannot exists a middle ground for public schools and charter schools as both are competing for the same enrollment. To talk about a middle ground is to pretend that competition for student enrollment doesn’t exist. And, to take a middle ground is not to fully support public school District as charter school growth is at the expense of the local school district’s enrollment.

    In some degree those GO PAC candidates for school board by accepting the endorsement of the GO PAC are demonstrating support for charter schools yet such support is to a degree disloyalty to the students of the District that need 100% of a School Board members focus on them.

    For me it is unfortunate that the Oakland Public Schools does not have a school board that is 100% committed to the students in its District but divides its loyalty with students enrolled in charter schools. Perhaps the Board members have a twisted sense that their divided loyalty is that middle ground between public school and charter school. But, the Board is the public school Board and charters have their own corporate private governing board. The Board does little to defend the District from charter schools and has allowed the District to grow 40 charter schools.

    I thought the School Board of Oakland was acting like a criminal robbing the children of Oakland Public Schools of its funding when the Oakland School Board voted to ratify the initiative of Superintendent Smith to pay $50,000 to hire a consultant to help a charter school get started.

    In my view is not one dollar of money for OUSD should be spent on charter schools.

    Look at the big money that the GO PAC attracts by those associated with charter schools. In addition to small contributions by charter school operators, the Charter School Association contributed $50,000 to the GO PAC.

    The question of whether there is a middle ground on the issue of public schools and charter schools is similar to the question of being a little bit pregnant. Two systems; one managed by the representatives of the public, and the other system managed privately are engaged in an unending competition for enrollment as was intended by authors of California charter law.

    It is either a good idea to have two systems of public schools and charter schools competing or not. Given the reality of competition for enrollment and funding between public schools and charter schools where is the middle ground?

    To say one is for good school whether public schools or charter schools is to argue for the competition but ignores the harm the competition does in destablizing both public schools and charter schools while money that should go to students is diverted to the competition between the two systems.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Observer

    I wonder what the private charter movement people will do when there are too many charters in Oakland for too few students?

    Like Box Stores, will the largest and most prolific (best funding) simply eat the competition and leave the the carcasses of empty institutional structures to blight while the children hop into cars every morning and go in various directions to KIPP here or KIPP there (why is there no focus on “neighborhood” in the private charter movement?). It seems there is no stopping the onslaught. Is opening 6 or more new schools a year really sustainable in an area where the child population is declining?

  • J.R.


    Fact check time!

    “In some degree those GO PAC candidates for school board by accepting the endorsement of the GO PAC are demonstrating support for charter schools yet such support is to a degree disloyalty to the students of the District that need 100% of a School Board members focus on them”.

    All these children live in Oakland(they are not the enemy). The board is responsible for the education of the children.

    “I thought the School Board of Oakland was acting like a criminal robbing the children of Oakland Public Schools of its funding when the Oakland School Board voted to ratify the initiative of Superintendent Smith to pay $50,000 to hire a consultant to help a charter school get started”.

    I witnessed plenty of charters turned away by the board, only to get approval from the county board(this overly-bloated redundant,overcompensated bureaucratic education system works so well,huh)?

    “In my view is not one dollar of money for OUSD should be spent on charter schools”.

    The education of children is a public trust, not a divine right of the education mafia. That tax money belongs to taxpayers and their children, not the failed educratic system. You have violated public trust in poorly preparing children for decades, and parents should have the choice to go elsewhere.

    I have had all I can stand from a system that forces students to be stuck in failing conditions. A system that requires and forces its own members to pay dues or agency fees that are used to enrich a chosen few and keep the pay,perks and pensions flowing for the worker bees.This district budget at one time was nearly half a billion dollars, and was it any better? No it was not.

  • Nontcair

    This whole debate about ‘traditional vs charter’ is just another version of the long running war between left and right over TAX DOLLARS.

    It makes little difference to taxpayers which side prevails. In either case,

    our money gets BURNED.
    thousands of gov regulations make *either* approach DOOMED TO FAIL.

    The only reason we haven’t adopted a voluntary attendance, 100% privatized and 0% regulated model is because both political parties have a financial interest in the status quo (on the *receiving* end of tax $$$.

  • Jim Mordecai


    Thank you for your statement “all these children live in Oakland and the Board is responsible for their education.”

    Yes, the Board is responsible for the education of the children enrolled in OUSD, period

    The Board has no more responsibility for Oakland’s private and church school children than it has for the children enrolled in charter schools.

    However, that statement needs to be qualified because the Oakland School Board does have some narrow responsibilities for some private/church schools that receive Federal flow through Title I funding.

    And, the Board, unlike its limited responsibility for private/church schools, does have oversight responsibilities over the schools it charters. But, the Oakland School Board does not have responsibility over the children enrolled in the schools it charters.

    The Board has limited responsibility of determining if a charter lived up to the promises it made in setting down its charter. Under law charters are granted for give years and school boards have the responsibiity in determining if a charter should be renewed after five years.

    And, if a charter is not living up to the promises made in granting the charter, the Board may move to remove the charter it granted and close a school, after having given the charter school a warning and legally defined time to cure and correct the violations of the conditions for granting the charter.

    Oakland has complicated my assertion that it has no responsibility over charter schools a little more because Oakland has signed contracts with a few charter schools whereby both the District and the charter school enter into a contract for Oakland to receive payment for certain services including such services as diverse as special education services, professional development and custodial services to name a few. These contracts complicate the relationship of the Board to the charter schools.

    But, again the Board’s responsibility in oversight of these contracts and with oversight of charter schools under charter law is a contractual responsibility in relationship to the school’s management and not a responsibility in relation to the students enrolled in the charter school. Although the charter school is a public school it is under private management leaving responsibility of Oakland School Board members to the children of charter schools behind.

    Charter schools are not normally limited to the geographic area of an authorizing local school district. An exception is for public schools like Acend that were converted to charter school status.

    An example of charter school not accountable for enrollment of District children is Aspire’s Golden Gate campus charter school. This Aspire school continues to enroll children from Richmond. Meanwhile, the Parcel tax spent on Golden Gates facilities is used to house Richmond children paid for by Oakland property owners. Just one of the many unintended consequences of weakly regulated charter schools.

    Finally, while charter school children are not the enemy of public schools, the Oakland charter schools reduce Oakland School enrollment and are therefore taking public educational dollars from Oakland public schools and the children Oakland Schools enroll.

    Charter schools are like an enemy raiding party at war with public schools over the educational dollar. Clearly charter schools act as the enemy of public education. The State legislature wrote California’s charter laws so charter schools would compete for the public education dollars like an enemy raider. Supporters of Oakland charter schools may well want to yell “Go Raiders”!

    Jim Mordecai

  • J.R.

    Which is precisely why we need to encourage and nurture talented people with real world budgetary experience(CEO’s,CPA’s,budget analysts, financial managers etc to run for positions). Community activists, not for profit organizational heads, lawyers, restorative justice types are not working out too well, as the record shows. For the record, the regular public school system has had more than their share of unintended consequences, foibles,controversies and scandals even though they are regulated. I don’t really need to put up a huge list of links that back up my assertions do I? I’ll leave it up to you. As far as the term “raiding party” goes we the taxpayers have been raided and picked clean for decades(in a very short time we will be asked for even more). There is no such thing as a temporary tax(not when pension liabilities are growing exponentially. I’ll toss this link in just for the conversational starter. Everybody say “thank you OEA”!