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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.): Continue Reading

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Big money flowing into Oakland school board races

Staff Photojournalist
Photo by Laura A. Oda/Staff

As we reported today, this Oakland school board election is a departure from past cycles — and not just because every race is contested.

The teachers union revived its political action committee after 20 years, throwing its weight behind Thearse Pecot (District 1), Richard Fuentes (District 3), and Mike Hutchinson (District 5).

But the $20,000 the Oakland Education Association PAC expects to spend on those candidates is dwarfed by that of another new PAC, for Great Oakland Public Schools. It had raised more than $123,000 as of Sept. 30.

About 80 percent of that sum came from two people: Former Dreyers CEO Gary Rogers, whose son Brian ran for school board in 2008 against Jody London (District 1), and Arthur Rock, a well-known venture capitalist based in San Francisco.

Rock gave $49,000 and Rogers gave $49,900 to support GO’s picks: Jumoke Hinton Hodge (District 3), Rosie Torres (District 5), and James Harris (District 7). GO has not endorsed either candidate in District 1.

The Rogers Family Foundation is clearly invested in Oakland’s education system — it’s given grants to district and charter schools, and it provided the seed money to start GO in the first place. But why would someone from San Francisco pour money into an Oakland school board race?

GO says Rock, who has supported (on a smaller scale) some of the group’s other initiatives, was inspired by all of the energy in the campaign. Rock wouldn’t give an explanation, saying in an emailed response that his contribution “speaks for itself.”

I talked to David Kakishiba about this yesterday. He’s on the OUSD board, but not up for re-election, so I wanted to get his thoughts. He said he welcomed the infusion of attention and money, saying school board races had been neglected for far too long. Do you agree?