This past Saturday was the inaugural training for the coalition group the Schools Oakland Students Deserve (SOSD). The coalition will be working to build community consensus around the need for community schools (schools that address all of students' needs) and democratic control, and popular education will be part of the strategy for the group.
Parents were well-represented at this first training. Pictured above are Amalia Castanon-Hill, a parent at Westlake Middle School (at left), and Ann Swinburn, a parent at Melrose Leadership Academy (at right).
The part of the day that was most interesting for me was about the history of the district, and what happened when OUSD was put into receivership by the state. That part was taught by Dan Siegel, who served on the OUSD School Board for eight years. He was brilliant. It was recorded and I will post it on the Resources page as soon as I get the link.
Dan's basic message was that parent organizing was critical to the improvement of OUSD schools, and was the reason there was so much rapid improvement in the early 2000s, and so many schools redesigned. He also believes that we need that level of parent activism again if we want the priorities for OUSD to be the right ones.
I met Akiba Bradford, above, through my campaign. She raised important points at the training about the relationship between education and the criminal justice system, and pushed for the need for programs to disrupt the school to prison pipeline to be included in the platform for SOSD.
At the next training, it is my hope that youth will be better represented. The coalition will be offering training regularly on a number of topics.
Some of my favorite Oaklanders taking a lunch break. Left to right: Sharon Rose, Allene Warren and Floyd Huen from Block by Block Organizing Network.