Jonathan Osler, left, is a parent at Peralta and one of the founding parents of the Oakland Equity Allies (this name may be changed soon).
This week was the first general meeting of the Oakland Equity Allies parent group, made up of parents from across the city who are concerned about the disparities between Oakland's schools, as well as racial and class segregation.
Since the group is still very, very new, we presented a draft statement of principles and then broke into groups so that people could choose what they felt most interested in discussing.
Nilofer Ahsan, right, is a parent at Crocker Highlands and also a founding parent of the Equity Allies group. Kim Davis, left, is a founding parent of Parents United for Public Schools.
The group I co-led with Rachel Dornhelm from Crocker Highlands was focused on how we should be structured and make decisions as a group. It's the kind of thing I have very little patience for, but also recognize as really important, since transparency about how decisions are made is so crucial in building trust. We mostly shared some questions with our group, and got feedback on them.
Jonathan Osler (Peralta) and Marie Christine Fox (NOCCS) (at top) drafted the principles and then listened to feedback on them.
There were also groups that discussed: the draft statement of principles, the other groups and organizations that we should work with, and the kinds of actions and activities the group should take part in.
Most of these working groups will continue to meet, and will bring their proposals and ideas to the general assembly before we move forward, including ideas about how we decide on what to do, who to work with, etc (I know, complicated). Feel free to reach out if you'd like to be part of one of these working groups and I can connect you to their leaders.
After the groups met, they shared out what they had discussed. There were lots of different perspectives represented in the room.
My vision for this group is that over time we can bring the privilege and power that some Oakland parents have into the debates and discussions that affect all Oakland parents, to bring privileged parents into closer relationship and deeper understanding of the issues that impact working class families of color, and have them work more closely together for a more equitable system where all students get their needs met.
We talked a lot at the meeting about the group being predominately white right now, and strategies for addressing that. I imagine that it will continue to be a topic of conversation, and that it will take time and experimentation to address it.
The working group on our structure and decision-making process will meet next on July 19. Let me know if you are interested and I'll provide the details for the next meeting.