Where does the Oakland Unified School District go from here?
a year later plunged into chaos that’s all Deeply polarizing closure of some small community schools — sparking lengthy sit-ins, resignations from school boards, and even hunger strikes — school districts are treading toward an uncertain future.
Three district seats are vacant in the November election. Incumbent District 2 Director Amy Ng and incumbent District 4 Director Gary Yee did not run for re-election, leaving these districts wide open for new entrants. increase.
Many of the candidates are fundamentally opposed to Auckland Unified’s underlying financial position. Some believe the district is facing a financial cliff, while others are optimistic that a temporary COVID-19 relief fund and future state investments in public education will propel the district forward.
next School shooting earlier this month With six people injured and the suspect on the run, the district is in dire need of a strong leader.
Below are the candidates representing District 2, which includes areas south and east of Lake Merritt. District 4, which extends north from the Arendelle area to Montclair. District 6 covers a long part of East Auckland, from the Auckland Coliseum to Anthony Chabot Regional Park on the hill.
Brouhard, a retired teacher at Auckland Unified University for 27 years, knows first-hand the impact of the closure after seeing one of the schools she taught, La Escuelita Elementary, close.
“Especially in some of the hardest-hit and most unstable communities, where children go to school has to be stable,” says Brouhard.
Brouhard believes the current school board is needlessly vague in explaining to community members how the district’s finances work.
And she argues that school boards should be more cautious about buying expensive reading programs in bulk. This includes a program in which each student “researches” three of her novels.
Executive Director of the Auckland-based East Bay Asia Youth Center, Kakishiba has the most experience on the Board of Education, having served three terms between 2002 and 2014. He also lost the special election for Alameda County Supervisor in June.
He doesn’t believe his tenure has caused Auckland Unified’s current problems. Because the district’s finances were so bad at the time that the state stepped in and took over. The state returned control to his OUSD in 2009.
Now Kaxiba says the board is “weak and unruly” and chooses to limp with an unsustainable budget.
“I think three to five years from now there will be a catastrophe that will dry up[COVID relief]funding. We had no plans to scale back or anything,” he said. .
With four children of various ages in the district’s schools, and another child who graduated from Auckland University of Technology last year, Orozco said the district is struggling to provide a safe environment. I said I’ve seen
He vehemently opposed school closures and said his son faced racism when he tried to enroll in charter school, despite a 3.7 GPA.
“My son is Mexican-American and his dad was a construction worker,” Orozco said. “Charter schools want parents who can volunteer and donate…they discriminated against me.”
Orozco said students need to be protected from peer violence but did not want the police involved, instead being “trained to work with children with special needs and traumatized children.” “It was done” defending the staff.
After two unsuccessful campaigns, Hutchinson won the District 5 seat in 2020. Scheduled for 2024, he now wants to run to represent District 4 after his home address was rearranged.
Although he strongly opposes the school board’s closure, claiming that the board made a wholly unnecessary decision, he resists speculating about the motives of his fellow councilors.
For Hutchinson, the idea that school districts are struggling financially is a complete myth. He noted how the COVID relief helped balance the budget for this fiscal year.
Hutchinson said, “We need to strengthen our school district management. On long-term funding, he said, ‘A statewide solution is coming — (California) our school district goes bankrupt.’ It is not.”
Manigo, the mother of two district students and one alumni, said the district is “moving in a direction that is not based on the voices of students and educators.”
Manigo argues that there isn’t enough evidence that school closures actually save school districts that much money, especially when you factor in the effort it takes to close campuses and transfer students.
As compensation for its history of systemic racism, the school board last year gave black students a boost by distributing Chromebooks and covering unpaid rent owed by families after the city’s COVID-19 rent moratorium ended. voted to give higher priority to students of
Manigo, who helped campaign for those reparations, “wants to ensure that every black child on OUSD is now in school and has access to basic needs such as mental health counseling, food and clothing.” increase.
Resnick was a math teacher at Oakland Unified University until 2014, but retired to work for an educational nonprofit, a company that creates alternatives to “traditional textbook and worksheet-based activities.” , became CEO of Inquiry By Design. website.
He sees the campus closure as a reasonable step to remedy a failed initiative in the 1990s to divide the district into smaller schools to serve individual communities. In doing so, the district spreads resources too thinly, contributing to literacy gaps among different races and ethnicities, he said.
Still, Resnick said the school board’s vote to close schools this year failed because of a lack of due diligence, especially not considering whether closing these campuses would lead to unfair education for black students. Stated.
As for the one-off fundraising, he believes, “You have to think more strategically, or you’ll have to tie your family together. The cliff is coming.”
Bachelor, whose husband is a teacher at Fremont High School, said the union closure “traumatized students” and allowed her family to be educated elsewhere.
“Outside of Charter, we’re competing with other school districts at the moment,” she said, noting that neighbors moved their children to the Hayward, San Leandro, and Castro Valley neighborhoods after Parker Elementary School closed this year. Did.
A bachelor’s degree promises more avenues for districts to solicit student input. She believes that her work history allows her to represent workers on the board, but she does not intend to follow the teachers’ union’s lead “totally”. she said.
After Shanti Gonzales stepped down in May, Mungia was appointed to the Board of Education to represent District 6 in June, serving as Oakland Mayor Libby Scharf’s deputy education director.
Munguia said he decided to run for the seat because he described the current school board vote to close the campus as “shady” and “lacking transparency”.
Still, Mungia made it clear that even winning a seat on the board doesn’t mean closing the school is completely off the agenda.
She concedes that closures don’t necessarily save that much money, but “I disagree with the opposition not just to save money, but to send money to certain school sites.” It is about concentrating.”
Velasquez is the parent of three school district students, two of whom are graduates of Auckland University of Technology. Having lived in Auckland for 30 years, he said, gives him “hands-on experience of how[the Board’s]politics and policies have played out.”
“The elephant in the room is that we didn’t close schools, we effectively replaced them with charter schools,” he said. “There has been an explosion of charter schools in California and we can no longer discuss[closures]without both charter schools.”
Like Hutchinson, Velázquez asserts that Oakland Unified’s questionable budget projections are unfounded and believes it is part of a strategy to privatize education.
If elected, Velázquez pledges that charter schools will not leave the door open to influence board decisions.
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2022/10/24/how-to-fix-the-instability-at-oakland-unified-school-board-candidates-weigh-in/ Auckland Unified School Board candidates address in chaotic year