Oakland’s Students Need Us to Continue & Accelerate Progress

After listening to Superintendent Antwan Wilson’s State of the Schools Address on Tuesday, a few things are clear to me:

  1. Our students are making incredible progress and the data continue to tell the story in amazing ways.
  2. We still have a lot of work to do.
  3. It’s critical that we elect a school board that will continue to drive that progress and bring us together as One Oakland.

Progress Data Highlight: Juvenile felony arrests in Oakland have declined by 73% since 2009!

It’s yet another example of common sense, student-focused board leadership and policy making a difference. When students stay in school, they stay out of trouble. The district’s efforts to keep our students in our schools and out of the prison pipeline are working. This data point is just one of the many speaking to the incredible progress we’re making.

No Question: Our District’s Making Significant Progress

The graduation rate for all Oakland students is up 5 points. The graduation rate for African American students is up 9 points. For students with disabilities, it’s up 16 points. For students in foster care, graduation rates are up 25 points.

The impact of this growth cannot be overstated. Having a high school diploma will provide a lifetime of benefits for the hundreds of additional Oakland students who graduated. Seeing these levels of growth in graduation rates for some of our most historically underserved student populations is astounding.

Our school board has driven this growth.

  • James Harris championed Measure N, which is bringing $120 million to Oakland high schools for college and career readiness.
  • Jumoke Hinton Hodge fought hard to establish the Office of African American Male Achievement, which has received national recognition for its work on educational equity in Oakland.
  • Jody London has tirelessly worked to get OUSD’s finances in order, so that we can invest more in our students and less in paying interest on loans.

While the outlook for our district is hopeful, there remains a lot of work to do.

Supt. Wilson specifically mentioned two examples of serious gaps that need to be addressed: only about a third of Oakland’s elementary students are proficient in reading and less than two-thirds of Oakland students graduate high school on time.

Supt. Wilson has laid out an ambitious plan to continue improving outcomes for Oakland students by:

  1. Expanding access to preschool (with a hint of a big announcement coming soon!)
  2. More rigorous academics,
  3. Educating the whole child (social-emotional learning),
  4. More supports for struggling schools, and
  5. Retaining great teachers.

A Closing Reflection: These Elections Matter.

To be clear, the continuation and acceleration of progress for all Oakland students hangs in the balance this election.

Right now, we have stability, clear vision, and positive momentum.

Moving forward, we need a school board that is willing to show up, work together, and support Supt. Wilson in his commitment to this district. We cannot afford to have school board directors who sow division, exploit fears, and undermine the work of our Superintendent.

As Supt. Wilson ended his remarks yesterday, “Let’s come together. Let’s be One Oakland. Let’s give all our children the chance to invent the future.”

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