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.
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.
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.)
Join Oakland parents, teachers, and students in Adult Ed and K-12 tomorrow to demand:
A little while ago we wrote about how corporate money has been rolling into school board elections across the country, upturning normally low-key, local affairs and twisting them towards corporate school de-form. Of course, the local example was how GO Public Schools funneled $185,000 towards 3 Oakland school board candidates, Rosie Torres, James Harris, and Jumoke Hinton-Hodge. GO had received the money from 3 main sources: the California Charter School Association, Gary Rogers (seed funder of GOPS), and Arthur Rock. Well now, Arthur Rock and some other Bay Area venture capitalist friends have been popping up in even more local elections. Teacher blogger, Jersey Jazzman, did the dirty work to uncover the campaign finances and here is a sample of what he found:
- Colorado: According to election records, Rock, Penner, Callaghan, the Goldberg-Sandbergs, and the Fourniers gave a total of $19,830 dollars to a slate of candidates consisting of State Senators Linda Newell, Mary Hodge, and Andy Kerr; Representatives Pete Lee, Millie Hamner, Brittany Pettersen, and Dave Young; and House candidate Chuck Rodosevich, who lost his bid. While each if the candidates got different amounts all donors individually gave the same amount to each candidate.
- New York: According to election records, Callaghan, Penner, and Rock gave State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein $2,000 each; Sandberg and Goldberg each gave $1,000.
- Nevada: According to election records, Alison Serafin, who was recently elected to the Nevada State Board of Education, received the following amounts:
- Rock, Sandberg, Thiry: $5,000 each.
- Goldberg: $3,500.
- Callaghan, Penner: $2,000 each.
- The Fourniers: $1,000 each ($2,000 total).
While some of this might seem like chump change when Obama raised $1 billion for his reelection, in school board elections these amounts of contributions totally warp the democratic process. For more info from Jersey Jazzman, please click here for his post. As he puts it these folks have been buying elections 3,000 miles from home (New Jersey in his case).
Of course, they’re also buying elections here and with huge consequences. GO has continued its push to bring corporate de-form policies into Oakland schools, most notably, with its recent campaign to evaluate teachers by test scores–a scientifically invalid process. To stop this red herring of a reform and point attention to where it should be (support and training for teachers based in professional learning communities and, crucially, increased resources for schools and our communities) we will have to be doubly vigilant and mobilized to offset the undemocratic nature of our current board. Click here for more ideas on what we can do and, as always, please share your ideas too.
Some of you might have already seen the shocking results in the New York Times today. Apparently, all the teacher evaluations programs pushed on school districts by Obama’s Race To The Top and the corporate de-formers have found a shocking conclusion: most teachers are, in fact, “highly effective” at their jobs.
Diane Ravitch does a great job of poking holes in this “realization” and cites some of their statistics:
In Florida, 97 percent of teachers were deemed effective or highly effective in the most recent evaluations. In Tennessee, 98 percent of teachers were judged to be “at expectations.”
In Michigan, 98 percent of teachers were rated effective or better.
This is serious news for Oakland. As many of you hopefully know by now, GO Public Schools & Co. (including Youth Together, Youth Uprising, SEIU 1021, OCO, and Education Trust-West), is making a serious push to evaluate Oakland teachers by student test score data. They are not alone. Superintendent Smith is heading the same direction in conjunction with 8 other California school districts (in the group called California Office to Reform Education (CORE)).
We post a fiery letter from an OUSD teacher who attended GO Public Schools’ event Wednesday night. There GO and a coalition of other organizations (including SEIU 1021, Youth Together, Youth Uprising, OCO, and Education Trust-West) proposed to evaluate, fire, and hire teachers according to student test score data. Click here for the report. The teacher is as angry for what it leaves out as what it proposes. A must read on a very relevant issue for Oakland, as GO and Tony Smith appear to be making a full-court press to evaluate teachers by test scores.
The only brief explanation of how you determine who is an exceptional teacher, average or weak teachers was in the number of years a student’s learning increases within a school year (based on standardized test scores I imagine although this was not explicitly stated). They said that highly effective teachers can raised student achievement by 1.5 years in a single year, average teachers can raise achievement by 1 year and weak teachers raise it by less than 1 year. As a teacher, this definition of effectiveness in teaching seems ignorant at best and quite honestly, insulting.
We are currently distributing this email blast and flyer around Oakland schools. You can help stop these cuts too! There are 2 ways to tap in:
Please fill in the cuts your school is facing at the bottom in the comments section. The more we are sharing this info, the more we can organize across different schools. Unity is power.
Copy a version of this flyer. Fill in your school’s specific cuts where we left space. Then pass it around to teachers, staff, parents, and students at your schools. When people see the concrete effects of the cuts, they’re more likely to act. Click here to download an editable English version of the flyer. Click here for a Spanish version.
Stop the $7.6 Million in Cuts!
OUSD’s Priorities Are Upside-Down!
The numbers don’t add up!
We know that the district has gotten infusions of money, some of which we’ve fought for like Prop 30 and Measure J. We know there is money in the reserve budget. We know consultants get paid out millions every year. But yet, the district is still claiming empty pockets. They’re trying to hide political moves – to close schools, eliminate adult education, shift funding to charters and private contractors, de-prioritize Special Ed students – through moving numbers around.
In just two years, the administration has mismanaged millions of our dollars. First, they lost $7 million of QEIA grants because they failed to keep class sizes low enough. Then, they said an accounting error in Special Ed forced them to make cuts of $8 million. Now, they have a new accounting error of $7.6 million. This is unacceptable! Whatever their excuse, the effects are the same: cuts to our kids.
For years they have continued to cut from classrooms, students, parents and community but at no point have cut their own salaries. We say enough is enough. Our kids deserve better. We demand better!
Chop From the Top!
More Money for Classrooms!
Maintain and Rebuild Adult Ed!
Refuse to Pay the State Debt!
Not One Cut!
What can you do?
1) Educate your school. We made a template of a flyer you can pass out. We even left a part for you to fill in with your school’s specific cuts to make it concrete for people. Find the template on classroomstruggle.org.
2) Share awareness. List all cuts on classroomstruggle.org.
3) Demand: Not One Cut!