Archive | Action & Organizing RSS feed for this section

#HandsOffDewey – A Successful BBQ and Next Steps

31 Jul

BBQ for Dewey

The coalition to defend Dewey just finished up a very successful BBQ at Dewey Academy that brought out over 75 students, staff, parents, and community supporters of Dewey.  Check out the pics.  Be sure to not miss the video linked below.  As always, for up to date info and more media, check out our Facebook page:

Fists up for Justice!  Hands off Dewey!

Fists up for Justice! Hands off Dewey!

Dancing at the BBQ!  "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution."

Dancing at the BBQ! “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”

******* Click here to check out the dope student-produced video!  *******

Get Involved

We need to build a movement to keep OUSD and the developers’ hands off Dewey.  That means we need all the support we can get.  Here are a couple ways you can help us:

1.  Come tomorrow, Friday 8/1, and help us Crash the Developer’s Meeting!  We’ll be meeting at 1000 Broadway at 10:30AM.  Check the flyer here.  Click on the images to get the PDF for printing.

 One Pager Final_Page_1 One Pager Final_Page_2

2.  Sign our petition here:

3.  Share the struggle.  Tell folks to like our Facebook page to get updates and show support:  And share our hashtags too: #handsoffdewey #schoolsnotcondos #educationnotgentrification #rescindtherfq

4.  Email board members.  Here is a simple guide to help you write a quick email:

Easy Guide to Emailing School Board Members

Key Points: Don’t Demolish Dewey! Rescind the RFQ!

  1. Open a fresh email.
  2. SUBJECT LINE:  Choose one from the list below, or write your own beginning with Don’t Demolish Dewey, then copy and paste into “Subject:”
  3. SEND TO:  Copy and paste all of the email addresses below into “Recipients:”
  • Don’t Demolish Dewey! Rescind the RFQ! – Dewey Students Cannot Be Moved — Even for One Year!
  • Don’t Demolish Dewey! Rescind the RFQ! – Selling Schools Is Not a Source of Funds!
  • Don’t Demolish Dewey! Rescind the RFQ! – Public Land Should Stay Public!,,,,,,,,

  1. YOUR MESSAGE:  Copy and paste one of the suggested messages below into the body of your email, or write a brief message of your own, and press SEND:

Don’t Demolish Dewey! Rescind the RFQ! Dewey should not be moved because Dewey students are already at-risk.  Moving their school, even for just one year, definitely raises the likelihood of them dropping out.  Any other location would be unsafe for Dewey students. Dewey was just moved a decade ago and it was intentionally moved near Lake Merritt because it’s gang-neutral territory. Students have said this location is the safest place for them. Moreover, Dewey students as at-risk youth of color in Oakland, are always being under-supported and not prioritized.  You of all people should not be thinking of demolishing Dewey.

Don’t Demolish Dewey! Rescind the RFQ! There are much better sources of funds than gentrifying Oakland and demolishing active, thriving public schools. We should cut managerial administrative positions and salaries instead.  In 2012-13 (the most recent year with sufficient data), OUSD had 2x the administrators than Fremont, the next closest sized district in Alameda County.  If we had the same amount of administrators we would save $13 million. And OUSD officials and Board members should start a campaign that developers, Kaiser, the Port, Google, and other Oakland and Bay Area corporations be taxed to fully support quality public education.

Continue reading

Update on Dewey

31 Jul

Posted below is our most recent update on Dewey.  We published it a couple weeks ago on the Oakland Local blog.  It’s not fully up to date at this point since it’s missing our most recent actions including our BBQ on Monday, 7/28.  Still it’s worth posting for our archives here and so everyone can get an idea of the ongoing nature of our work around Dewey and gentrification within OUSD.


Stopping Gentrification in OUSD:

Update from Struggle to Stop Displacement of Dewey and Privatization of Public Land

By Aram Mendoza and N. Finch

Since we last wrote about the potential development deal that would potentially displace Dewey Academy and sell off public land, we’ve witnessed an inspiring awareness and mobilization among  the OUSD community.  At each of the two relevant board meetings that happened last week, the 7-11 meeting and OUSD school board, students, educators, and community members came out to speak against the proposed development deal that would privatize public land.  Below we outline a brief update on each meeting and review the major problems of this attempt to privatize public space in Oakland.  Throughout this piece we put forth a vision of how we should approach the key issues in this process.

Specifically, we call for:

  • Public land to remain under public control; No privatization of public land.
  • Parent, staff, student, and community should decide OUSD policy.
  • The OUSD admin and the school board should become community activists and fight for taxes on property developers, corporations, and the port, rather than resorting to short-term privatization schemes.


Sign-making before we protested at a 7-11 Committee meeting.

Sign-making before we protested at a 7-11 Committee meeting.


7-11 Meeting, Community Response and Colonial Analogies


On Monday, June 23rd, the 7-11 Committee convened its third meeting in order to advise the school board on whether or not Dewey Academy should be considered “surplus property” and thereby offer it up to luxury condo developers as a saleable/leaseable parcel of land.  While OUSD so poorly promoted attendance at previous 7-11 meetings that no more than four or five community members showed up, this one had over 30 educators, students and parents from Dewey, joined by a handful of concerned community members.

The fact that educators and students were able to quickly get the word out and mobilize the community, without any outreach support from OUSD, demonstrates the strong opposition to the OUSD administration’s plans to privatize the public land that Dewey rests on.  The grouping of educators, students and community members put up signs around the room that read, “Schools Not Condos,” “Dewey is not Surplus,” “Not One Inch of Public Land for Private Developers,” and other messages that clearly took a clear stand against the administration’s move to privatize public space.

Continue reading

Dewey Academy in Danger of Displacement: Gentrification and the Oakland Unified School District

21 Jun

Dewey Academy in Danger of Displacement:

Gentrification and the Oakland Unified School District

By Aram Mendoza and N. Finch in collaboration with Dewey teachers


Displacement of long-time, low-income residents due to gentrification has been an all too common story in the Bay Area recently.  Now the same insidious process is targeting some of the most “at-risk” students in Oakland.  Over the past two weeks, in the end of school rush, the Oakland Unified School District’s administration revealed they have been in close discussions with gentrifying developers that puts Dewey Academy, one of the public continuation high schools in the OUSD, in the cross-hairs of real estate agents and developers.  The developers are already planning a 24 story luxury condo building overshadowing Dewey and now want to add Dewey and the old OUSD headquarters to the project.  What follows is an overview of the situation, why it’s problematic, how it’s situated in the context of gentrification in the Bay Area, and what those of us opposed to the displacement of Dewey and the gentrification of Oakland can do about it.


Dewey gone.  In it's place condos.

Dewey gone. In it’s place condos.


“Surplus Property” and “Surplus Populations”


On Monday, June 10th, an OUSD-initiated group named the “7-11 Committee” (the name stems from the requirement that the committee have at least 7, and not more than 11, people on it) met for the second time.  The Committee was composed of various real estate attorneys, members of charter school boards of directors, and a couple community members.  Not a single active OUSD teacher or student was on the committee – the only current educator on the committee was the current principal of Dewey Academy.  They were charged with “advising” the school board as to the status of the OUSD property located on 2nd Avenue, east of the lake between E. 10th and E. 12th streets.  This property currently houses the former OUSD administration building, which was mysteriously flooded last year, as well as Dewey Academy.  The question set before the Committee was to determine whether or not the parcel of land housing both the former OUSD admin building and Dewey Academy was “surplus property.”

Surplus property is defined as property that is retained by the school district but is not currently being used.  How can anyone imagine that an actual school – Dewey Academy – that has just graduated about 130 students in the past weeks, and that houses a GED program for community members could ever be considered “surplus”?  During the first 7-11 committee, one of the OUSD’s attorneys referred to the “surplussing” of Dewey – that is, using the word “surplus” as a verb – and described the way that the OUSD and developers could actively convert Dewey into “surplus property” in order to make it open for development. (1)

The surplus property category is being used as a means to displace Dewey students and treat them as a surplus population.  It has nothing to do with Dewey actually being property that’s considered “surplus.”  This mirrors the treatment of Oakland’s youth in the broader society.  Seen as an expendable, incarcerable, and unemployable “surplus population,” Oakland’s youth are those who should be pushed to the margins in order to make way for more desirable occupants of land – those that can afford the lakeside view from the window of their 10th floor condominium.  This is the opposite of how they are treated at Dewey Academy where educators and community members work hard to support students who are missing credits needed to graduate, impacted by gangs and who might otherwise slip through the cracks of other OUSD schools.


Dewey Academy students and staff. Surplus property?


Against the Displacement of Dewey Academy


“The safest place for Dewey to be [for the students] is right where it is . . . “ - Dewey High School alum


There are at least three central reasons that highlight how problematic and oppressive the move to displace Dewey and the OUSD Administration building are.

First of all, Dewey’s current location is next to the Youth Heart Health Center, a student centered free health clinic that Dewey students helped design, in collaboration with OUSD employees and MetWest High School students.  What sense does it make to take our highest risk, highest need students away from a health center that they helped design?  While the OUSD has committed in rhetoric to prioritizing the social/emotional needs of Oakland youth, this move by the administration directly goes against the social/emotional needs of Dewey students and, by extension, all youth who access the health center. These students helped shape the YHHC with the understanding that they would be able to access the medical services there.  Since its opening, Dewey students have made up the highest percentage of youth who have accessed the clinic.  Without these young people being in close proximity to the YHHC, the center’s numbers may decline and put them at risk of budget cuts and layoffs, causing further harm to all students who access the center – including those from MetWest and La Escuelita.

Additionally, many students at Dewey are gang-impacted, and the location of Dewey in an accessible and relatively neutral territory by the lake means that students can come to school and be in a safer space than they would be if they had to attend another school in another neighborhood. The informally discussed alternative locations of Fremont High School in East Oakland, Santa Fe elementary in North Oakland and Lakeview campus north of the lake are all either unsafe for gang impacted students or inappropriately far, especially for youth who are already struggling with truancy.  This proposed displacement will only further the alienation and marginalization that these young people face by destabilizing what is perhaps one of the most stable institutions in their lives.  If Dewey did not exist and function as it is, and where it is, many of these students would not have the opportunity to recover credits in a safer space and eventually graduate with a high school diploma.

Lastly, the decision making process behind Dewey’s forced displacement has been incredibly undemocratic and marginalizing of youth, educator and community voices.  The committee that is advising the school board on whether or not Dewey is “surplus property” includes real estate lawyers that represent condominium developers and charter school board members.  This is unacceptable and disrespectful – nobody should decide the fate of a school but the students, educators and staff who make the school run on a daily basis.  The fact that this committee was appointed by the superintendent without any meaningful engagement with the school community is a slap in the face to a community of students and educators who have worked hard to make Dewey one of the safest campuses for struggling students in Oakland.

All of these problematics surrounding the seemingly forced displacement of Dewey lead us to the question: why is this displacement being pushed forward in such a rushed way?

Continue reading

All Out for Trayvon–Monday 6P @ 14th/Broadway

14 Jul

We all have already heard the verdict. Now is the time to respond. We must respond in at least 2 ways. First, it is crucial that we come out now, immediately after the verdict, to show and build our power in the streets. Teachers, parents, and students should all show up at the rally Monday and show solidarity. It is being endorsed by many organizations of the left and groups struggling against racism.  If you are part of an organization, you too should move to endorse it.

Second, we must build further and deeper. We should look to school walkouts of students and work actions by teachers.  Both have precedents in Oakland. Soon after Trayvon was murdered, a few 100 Fremont High students walked. We should follow that example. In terms of work actions, during the Oscar Grant struggles, ILWU Local 10 shutdown the port on Oct. 23, 2010, which many Oakland teachers supported. Teachers should amplify these steps.

For now, since we’re on vacations, we should show our solidarity and march in the streets bringing friends. But whenever we have the opportunity to show our power where we are most powerful–in the schools that we operate and use–we must be ready to act.

No to racist violence of the state and system!
Yes to teacher, student, and parent power to shutdown this system and shutdown the racism!

Show our power at this rally on Monday, 7/15, 6P at Oscar Grant Plaza (14th/Broadway)!



Click the image above to download it as a flyer.

RALLY THURS 3:30PM – Castlemont High Staff, Teachers, Students Outraged by Neglect and Threats of Closure

6 Jun

This press release was sent to us by staff at Castlemont who are organizing a rally with students to demand the district provide them with equitable resources and a guarantee their school wil not be closed. They are asking for supporters to join them for their rally at 3:30pm tomorrow. More information follows…



Castlemont High Staff, Teachers, Students Outraged by Neglect and Threats of Closure

School Community Rallies, Demands OUSD Address Inequalities


Press Contact:

Sagnicthe Salazar


WHAT: Rally and Press Conference

WHEN: Thursday June 6th, 3:30-4:30pm

WHERE: Castlemont High School 8601 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, Ca. 94605

On June 6th, Castlemont Students, teachers, Alumni, parents and community partners will hold a rally and press conference in front of Castlemont High School to bring attention to rampant neglect, dwindling resources, and lack of basic safety.  Castlemont High School community members are demanding immediate action from the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) as well as guarantees that long-unaddressed neglect faced by the school does not lead to its closure.


“Our school is tired of the dismal support on behalf of the District and we join together to demand accountability from the District to fully serve the needs of our students and school community,” says Candice Valenzuela,  a teacher and one of the organizers of Thursday’s rally.  “Every child has a right to a quality education and the District cannot continue making Castlemont High School the exemption.”


Throughout the past 3 years, Castlemont has faced the destabilizing effects of the OUSD ‘reassignment’ of three principals, and the consolidation of smaller schools into one large school.  The school district recently decided to remove Castlemont’s current principal just one year after he was voted into the position. The decision was made behind closed doors. Community members have been outraged that the principal’s removal was revealed after it was too late for school stakeholders toexercise their district mandated right to weigh in on principal selections.


“Castlemont High School has been set up for failure,” says Marguerite Sheffer, a 4th year Castlemont Teacher.  “The issue of inequality is at the forefront of these decisions—whether that be around having to compete with charter schools for funding, basic lack of safety, lack of on-site case managers, or under-resourced programs for special-needs students. These issues disproportionately affect students of color and Castlemont is severely impacted by the racial disparities that exist within OUSD.”


The coalition of teachers, students, parents, staff, community partners, and administrators who are speaking out against conditions at Castlemont liken their fight to the protracted struggles for public education in Chicago in 2012.  “We intend to be relentless in our agitation against OUSD policies and mandates that continuously undermine our integrity as an educational institution; dehumanize our students, families, and staff; and violate the rights of our youth to equitable access to fully resourced, effective public schools,” says Michelle Espino, a tenured Castlemont Teacher.

Thursday’s rally will open with a press conference and will feature lively speakers and colorful artwork.  Spokespeople will be available for interviews throughout the day.



for more information check out our facebook page:



1. We Demand Castlemont facilities be fully functioning, equipped to support a safe campus, and technologically up to date.

2. We demand that the district provide adequate training and support for teachers and administrators.  


3. We demand that Castlemont’s Special Education Program be fully staffed and supported by PEC.


4. We demand that our Security Officers are adequately trained, and that resources are amassed to provide a safe passage for students coming to and leaving school.

5. We demand that the OUSD make a commitment to keep Castlemont open for at least 5years.

Please call the following people to make our Demands be heard


·       Gary Yee (OUSD Superintendent) :

·       Maria Santos (Assistant Superintendent) :

·       Allison MacDonald (NEXO) :

·       James Harris (School Board Member representing Castlemont) :

·       Barb MacClung  (Over Security, Health and Wellness for OUSD)


Update and Next Steps to Rebuild Adult Ed

6 Jun

Dear supporters of Classroom Struggle and Public Education in Oakland,

We won $1 million dollars for Adult Ed! This is definitely a partial victory, and we should celebrate this, since it was direct action and leadership on the part of parents and teachers which won it. But we also need to be clear about the limitations of every victory.

Thank you all for coming out on Wednesday, 5/22. We have included a detailed overview of what happened on at the school board meeting, what our victories have been, the limitations of the vote taken on Wednesday, as well as some directions for next steps.

Adult Ed

A few key points:

  • At the May 22nd board meeting parents, teachers and students were united in fighting for a fair contract and against cuts (mainly to adult ed).
  • The board voted to maintain current funding for adult ed (due in large part to mobilizations by adult ed students and teachers as well as the outcome of the May Revise).
  • The vote guarantees 1 million in funding of adult education but does not guarantee how that funding will be spent.
  • It is still possible that cuts may happen because of “restructuring” by administrators or because school site budgets may not be able to pay the contribution that is currently required of them.
  • Going forward, adult ed students and teachers are continuing to fight to make sure the program continues as it is and expands to restore the 90% of this program that was cut 3 years ago. There is still work to be done THIS SCHOOL YEAR.

We want to learn from and build out of the May 22nd board meeting so please take the time to read the rest of this email to understand the details of this struggle and contact us with any thoughts/suggestions/questions.

What Happened?

The meeting started with a picket line and rally of hundreds of parents, teachers and students chanting “Save Adult Ed,” “Fair Contract Now” and “Not One Cut!” After 15 minutes of picketing outside, the contingent marched inside and held a spirited general assembly with speeches from parents, Adult Ed students, and teachers. Oakland’s educational community was out in strong force and electrifying what is otherwise an incredibly dull “business meeting” (to use School Board Member Jumoke Hodge’s own words.)

Continue reading

All Out for Oakland Schools! Tomorrow, Wedn., 5:30 @ Board Meeting!

21 May

Join Oakland parents, teachers, and students in Adult Ed and K-12 tomorrow to demand:

Save and rebuild adult education!

Grant teachers a fair contract!

Reduce Special Ed Case Loads!

Rally at 5:30 at the School Board (La Escuelita Elementary: 1050 2nd Avenue, btwn 10th & 12th St).

Click the flyer below to download.

Save and rebuild adult educationSave and rebuild adult education2


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 468 other followers