Strategy and Analysis to Defend and Transform Public Education
This article is written by a parent of a Special Education child in OUSD which we published in our most recent newsletter. As it shows Oakland parents have in-depth knowledge of how OUSD currently runs and how it could run better. We hope more parents write and we can start conversations from the bottom up of how to make real change in public education. If you would like to write too, we are willing to publish your views on this website and in our newsletter. And if you’re not ready to write a full article, you can always start by commenting below.
The school district needs parental oversight especially in Special Education. The district often makes changes and creates policy that will directly affect our children with no input good or bad from the parents. Surveys are a productive means to engage parents, town hall meetings and other informal forums besides school board meetings that tend to drone on and go through countless agenda items some relevant and some not. The system as it exists is set up to tire parents out, build frustration, and lead to hostile feelings and actions by parents ultimately leaving the district with them closing the door behind you.
My personal hope for the future with parental oversight is to cut down on harsh policy and feelings. Letting the administration know we understand and care about not only our children but the health of the school district. We have educated, talented, parents that have time and resources to offer. We only want to feel valued when they offer their opinions and services. The backdoor private decision making Oakland Unified has come accustomed to doing is stifling and disrespectful. Administration is in place to keep order not add to the chaos. We have to go home and tell our kids that their school is closed to them but open for District use. The fragile Special Ed population is subjected to change and relocation at the whim of a district not taking into account the issues that most likely will follow and have to be solved by the underpaid teacher and the over stressed parent.
Parents hate to sue over non- compliance issues and technicalities that should be identified and remedied by the District. Parents can often be appeased if things are brought to their attention instead of laid in their laps. We know the work the Program Specialist have and the case loads they are burdened with. With open and productive communication we can agree and come to a reasonable solution for the issues we are facing as staff, parents, teachers and students alike. F.A.P.E (Free, Appropriate Public Education) should all be our common goal for children with and without special needs. It is my hope that a supportive and vigilant oversight committee can work hand in hand with the district and come up with solutions, services, and programmatic corrections that will serve our children as a whole in the Oakland Unified School District.
At this time we, the Special Ed Community Advisory Committee, are unsure how the committee will be selected or chosen, the total number of members and the executive powers and privileged information the members will be assessing, if the forum will meet quarterly or monthly, etc. We have not worked out all the logistics but we are excited for the opportunity and grateful for the chance.
Kristen Dixon is the parent of a child in Special Education in OUSD.