From left to right: Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig, Dr. Frank Adamson and Dr. Janelle Scott, speakers at the forum
Last night a standing room only crowd turned out for a forum on common enrollment in Oakland called Questioning Common Enrollment in Oakland Schools. I was on a panel with scholars from across Northern California to discuss the idea of common enrollment and specifically, whether it has delivered on the promise of equity as has been indicated by the OUSD administration.
I am still digesting all that I heard and learned, but I have shared some of my biggest takeaways below. I have also shared the slide decks that were shown, as well as video footage from the event, and you can access them by clicking on the links below.
I was pleased that so many of my board colleagues were able to attend. Directors Torres (pictured above, at left), Hinton Hodge and Senn were also there.
It was hot, we ran out of chairs and so many people had to stand or sit on the floor, and people still stayed an hour later than intended, because people were excited to have the discussion. There was clear demand for more information about the community-based alternatives to the top-down, privatizing reforms, and so I am working with Dr. Vasquez Heilig to hold a second forum soon that will take a deeper dive into those. Stay tuned for details on that.
1.For every top-down privatizing prescription that the ed reformers have, there is a community based reform that can be done in a more democratic way. You can check out Dr. Vasquez Heilig's slides below to learn more about those. That is what we need to work toward in Oakland, moving toward community-based democratic reforms and away from top-down, privatizing reforms.
2. We need to reclaim equity as a community concern. It is not only about the rights of individual parents to have more choices in a 'market' of schools; it is about what our community demands for all Oakland students, not just some students. Check out Dr. Scott's presentation slides below to learn more about how the right wing redefined equity to advance their privatization agenda.
3. School "choice" in many cases means that schools are picking their students, not that families choose schools. Students are selected based on neighborhood, test scores, attendance at previous schools, sibling attendance, IEP designation, and history of discipline reports. The impact of common enrollment in New Orleans has been very racialized, and bad for African American students in particular, who have experienced large-scale exclusion from the better options in the city.
I will be reading the report below that Dr. Scott referenced about how Oakland has been seen as a test case for many of these different top-down privatizing strategies, and may share some reflections on that in a future blog post.
Access the Presentations