At issue in this Oakland school board election are questions that will affect the lives of students, families and educators – from how do we better prepare all students for college and careers, and where the Oakland Unified School District puts its limited funds to the future of school discipline and restorative justice, and what supports will be available for teachers and principals. The Oakland school board has much to claim credit for, including the increasing graduation and college readiness rates, decreasing out-of-school suspension rates as well as improvements in the district’s financial health. But there is still a lot of work to do to ensure that higher rates of students are graduating from high school ready to succeed in life. That is why GO Public Schools Oakland Advocates (GO) is supporting a network of parents, teachers, principals and community members in their efforts to elect school board members who will support quality, equity and sustainability across all schools for all students.
In keeping with GO’s model of supporting and developing community leadership, these parents, educators and community members are leading in every aspect of the grassroots campaign – from endorsing candidates to supporting the campaign and mobilizing the community. The parents and educators represent all public schools, district-run and charter schools.
The GO network have determined that Jody London in District 1, Jumoke Hinton-Hodge in District 3, Huber Trenado in District 5 and James Harris in District 7 will advance the interests of all students the most. For those wondering how those endorsements came together, below is a quick explainer.
A Community Led Process to Endorse the Right Leaders
To begin the endorsement process, GO sent a questionnaire to each candidate that focused on their leadership experience and positions on various issues. The completed questionnaires were shared with GO’s network of families, educators, and community members. Over 100 members of the network then had a chance to interview the candidates and make recommendations. After the interview day, the Oakland Leadership Council synthesized the feedback from the community and made formal endorsements accordingly. Finally, participants in the endorsement process wrote about why they advocated for the candidates that GO chose to endorse. GO’s school board endorsement process is the most inclusive of parents and educators in Oakland.
A Grassroots Campaign
This campaign is a grassroots effort supported by individuals committed to expanding high quality educational opportunity for historically underserved children and families in Oakland. To date, more than 280 people have made over 570 donations. Because of the grassroots nature of GO’s endorsement and outreach efforts, the network has a large base of support to help parents, educators, and community members come together to elevate the importance of school board and ensure the best candidates are elected.
Mobilizing the Community
Volunteers have completed more than 250 shifts – going door to door and making calls – to talk to voters and spread the word about the hard work and commitment school board candidates Harris, Hinton Hodge, Trenado, and London have put in to make Oakland schools thrive. The number continues to grow as the GO network and supporters commit to new shifts in the upcoming weeks. The volunteers are knocking on doors in their neighborhoods and calling people in their communities – parent to parent, voter to voter – to share their reasons for supporting the candidates.
With the majority of seats – 4 out of 7 – open, the November 8, 2016 school board elections will play a significant role in shaping the future of Oakland’s schools and students. The school board is responsible for the education of more than 48,000 students and controls a budget of more than $600 million a year. At the center of the GO network’s grassroots campaign is the belief that every student deserves a quality education and that Oakland needs strong leaders to champion this work.