The fate of five schools in the Oakland Unified School District is at stake. Castlemont, Frick, Fremont, Brookfield, and McClymonds are public schools that have worked for years to shape the youths of OUSD and its surrounding areas. But things are going to change soon.
Antwan Wilson, the superintendent of OUSD, wants the ”intensive school support” for the above-mentioned schools. Which is another way to say that these schools will be put in the market in the same way the Dewey Academy was dealt with last year.
The superintendent intends to hand over the management of the school to the ones who offer the best proposal. Soon enough, for each of these institutions, the Request for Proposals (REP) will be open. Anyone can submit a proposal. It includes charter school organizations, business bodies, and educators too.
Although the superintendent has assured that the management body of these schools and their students will remain unimpacted, but will it really be so?
The Root of Problems in OUSD’s Decision
The OUSD administrators often rush through the process of decision making instead of allowing the students, teachers, and staff to come up with plans that can benefit the school in real sense.
A major chunk of the problem is how the OUSD reaches to the solution. Instead of letting a school draw its strength from what it already possesses, the OUSD is more than ready to impose a process. OUSD has somewhat created a competition between the school’s staff and the charter organizations and other business-minded organizations while proposing the invitation for REPs.
This proposed solution misses the actual root of problems. These public schools in the OUSD have already undergone so many changes, and the result of each change was more disruptive than the previous.
At the break of the 21st century, Mack, Fremont, and Castlemont were split into small schools. It resulted in the shutting down of various vocational programs that included culinary, fashion, construction, and several foreign languages. Even the library of the Castlemont had to be closed.
Then, as a result of the budget cuts, several of the small units had to again come in a consolidated form. This had a disruptive impact, both on the students and the staff.
In 2011, the teachers were made to sign a contract that jeopardized their jobs. They were year-to-year employees lacking job stability. This step of the OUSD had a heavy impact on the turnaround rate.
Not all changes are bad, but the ones that cause instability in students’ lives are certainly of no good. Also, putting the school educators in direct competition with the chartered bodies and businesses for submitting proposals does not seem like too bright an idea. It can have a huge and heavy impact on the future of the students.
The Alternative Solution
Instead of making the schools and the chartered organizations race against one another, the OUSD administration should halt and re-analyze the situation.
The administration should give the power of analyzing each school’s progress to the school itself. Besides, the only body that should be coming up with a proposal for school development is the educators and other staff of the schools, who have put in several years of hard work into educating the students in those institutions.
The duty of coming up with a proposal for advancements should be left to the ones who are actively involved with it- the educators, staff, parents, and the students. They should be given financial aid in the form of a stipend to advance this cause and come up with accurate assessments and solutions.