In this Presidential election year, there has been a great focus on getting big money out of politics in recognition of the negative impact it has on our democracy. Here in Oakland, over the last handful of years, an unprecedented amount of money has poured into our local school board elections from largely out of town big money donors. The majority of the current members of the OUSD Board of Education were elected with contributions from corporate interests, and those board members have consistently voted in ways that reflect those interests. Parents United for Public Schools believes that our public schools need strong leaders on the school board who are free from the influence of Wall Street billionaires and corporations who have an agenda to privatize our public school system.
In District 3, we believe that Kharyshi Wiginton will be just that type of strong independent leader who will fight for the public schools that all our students deserve. Kharyshi – affectionately called “Ms. K” by the students and families at McClymonds High School in West Oakland where she works – has pledged to refuse campaign contributions from GO Public Schools, the California Charter School Association, and other corporate interests focused on replacing our public school system with a private top-down business model of education.
When you meet Kharyshi, you can’t help but be drawn-in by her enthusiasm and passion for her students and her West Oakland community. Ms. K runs the after school program at McClymonds, where she is involved in multiple aspects of the school, including as a member of the Intensive Support re-design team. Through her involvement, Kharyshi has seen first-hand how OUSD fails to authentically engage the community about the direction of our District, instead making decisions behind closed doors or in secret committees, and then attempting to sell major changes to the community as community engagement after the fact.
Kharyshi believes in a model of pro-active community engagement that really listens to students, parents and the community – especially those on the margins, including families of color, working class families, and special education families. Kharyshi has pledged that when she is elected, these stakeholders will have a permanent seat at the table, leading to true community-led reform. With a strong community service orientation, she views a position on the School Board as “The People’s Seat,” and vows to “grow leadership” from within her district if elected.
Kharyshi believes in the community school model, saying, “a true community school model will see the student as an entire being and work to develop her/him holistically as opposed to just focusing on academic achievement. This includes providing programs and supports for the family as well.” Kharyshi and Parents United believe that expanding that model is a critical step in strengthening all Oakland public schools.
Kharyshi is also committed to ending the school-to-prison pipeline, getting police out of our schools and training more school-site staff in restorative justice practices, including School Security Officers.
For all these reasons, and more, Parents United believes that Kharyshi Wiginton is the right leader to represent Oakland public schools in District 3, and we are proud to endorse her for School Board.
Because Ms. K doesn’t have the kinds of corporate-backed support that the incumbent does, it is important that she gets the grassroots community support that can win this election. Volunteers are knocking on doors in District 3 every Saturday from 10-12, meeting at Ms K’s campaign headquarters at 1523 Myrtle St. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on door knocking, phone banking, and event support.
You can read Kharyshi’s complete answers to our candidate questionnaire here.
WONDERING HOW TO VOTE IN RANKED-CHOICE VOTING?
Because the Oakland Board of Education race is decided using ranked-choice voting, and there are multiple candidates on the ballot in District 3, Parents United encourages you to make your other choices for candidates that are supported by and funded by the community, and not Wall Street billionaires and other corporate interests focused on the privatization of our public schools.
Therefore, we recommend that you DO NOT USE ANY OF YOUR VOTES for incumbent Board member Jumoke Hinton-Hodge, who has consistently been endorsed and funded by GO Public Schools and the California Charter School Association, and has voted in line with those interests.
Director Hinton-Hodge acknowledged receipt of our questionnaire but did not respond, despite being given extra time to do so.
Parents United sent out its questionnaire to all three active candidates in District 3. You can see the answers to our candidate questionnaire from Ben Lang, another District 3 candidate who has also committed to reject corporate funding and expand community schools, on our website.