Take Action to Help Return $6 Million a Year to OUSD!

Did you know that Oakland spends $6M a year on debt payments to the state? This is money that could be used to stabilize the district and put needed fiscal infrastructure in place.  Parents United has been working with the Free2Learn Committee — an ad hoc, grassroots, parent-led coalition working in partnership with community-based organizations — to ask our legislators to stand with Oakland. We ask that instead of continuing to take these funds out of Oakland, the state instead allow Oakland to invest these funds in specific ways that will improve fiscal accountability—and accountability to students, parents and community.

The Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) has pointed to key vulnerabilities in OUSD’s fiscal health and accountability.  We believe that our new superintendent and staff are working on addressing the issues raised—but this has resulted in deep cuts that are only hurting the district more.  Instead, our current loan payments of $6 million a year could be used to support long-term fiscal stability.  The Free2Learn Committee is setting up meetings with key legislators to discuss this strategy — but they need to know there is broad community support.  Our hope is that parents, community groups, district staff and legislative partners can use a small amount of the state’s current surplus to erase OUSD’s debt.

You can help by writing or calling your legislators today:

Tell them you want to stand with Oakland to ask that crippling debt payments be directed instead to key investments in fiscal accountability, and accountability to Oakland students, parents and community.

The suggested e-mail text is below:

Dear [Legislator Name],

During a time of state surplus, we respectfully ask you to stand with Oakland Parents to remove barriers that remain in our path towards fiscal vitality required for all students to succeed in Oakland!  We need support from the State through debt cancellation to fully implement the district’s Financial Stability Plan and Budget – which goes beyond the concerns outlined in the FCMAT report and are focused creating a culture of fiscal transparency and accountability.

I am writing to you as an Oakland parent who has seen first-hand the impact the crippling state debt and massive school cuts have had on my child and all vulnerable children in Oakland as schools report running out of paper, losing literacy coaches and other essential staff. We need to be able to protect and prioritize our kids from these draconian cuts.

Over the past year hundreds of parents have organized to demand financial accountability in the district and we’ve made incredible progress towards that end. I recognize that past OUSD leaders failed to ensure OUSD’s financial health with disastrous consequences – but we’ve turned over a new leaf, winning a new home-grown Superintendent with the demonstrated fiscal leadership needed to get us solvent once and for all.

Our new leaders are committed to and understand – putting a solid fiscal infrastructure in place – is the only way to permanently exit the cycle of mismanagement, crisis, and painful school site cuts that prevents funds from getting to the most vulnerable children who need those resources to learn and grow.

You can find more information about the #Free2Learn campaign here.

Sample Letter to Alameda County Board of Ed Re: Aurum Preparatory Academy

Aurum Preparatory Academy’s charter was rejected nearly unanimously by our School Board in December for being unlikely to succeed and failing to present a sound educational or financial plan, among other reasons. On Tuesday, April 11th, the petition will be in front of the Alameda County Board of Education for their consideration. California’s charter school law unfairly and undemocratically overrules the local control of school boards to manage the educational programs of their districts by allowing charter schools to appeal rejections, first to the County and then the State, who can then authorize the placement of the school in Oakland. It is imperative that the County Board of Education hear from Oakland families opposing the opening of this charter school in our community. There are many reasons why Aurum should not be operating in Oakland, but the County Board is limited in what arguments it can consider. We have prepared a draft letter here which you can modify to reflect your concerns and send it to the Alameda County Board members listed below. Please take a minute to send the email by Monday at noon to ensure that the board has adequate time to consider it.


Dear Alameda County Board of Education Members:

I am writing to ask you to reject Aurum Preparatory Academy’s charter petition appeal, and affirm the OUSD Board of Education’s rejection of the proposed charter school. I am [WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF, IE: A TEACHER AT AN OAKLAND SCHOOL NEAR THE PROPOSED AURUM SITE, A PARENT WITH 3 CHILDREN IN OUSD SCHOOLS, ETC.], and I urge you to vote to confirm the OUSD’s decision to reject the Aurum petition for the following reasons:

  • The appeal represents a “material revision” from the petition presented to OUSD, and rejected in December 2016. The change of the school’s opening date from 2017 to 2018 invalidates the signatures of parents “meaningfully interested” in enrolling their child for the fall 2017 opening and requires Aurum to go back to the OUSD school board for approval or rejection before the county board is permitted to accept the appeal.
  • The OUSD Board made the right decision when it rejected the Aurum petition, as the Aurum school leadership lacks the experience necessary to successfully implement the school plan; the Aurum petition fails to establish a sound education plan; and the petition lacks all the required elements, including concerns about financial stability and cash flow to sustain the program.

The East Oakland public school community has recently experienced the direct destabilization associated with the failure of the Castlemont Primary Academy charter school at the very site where Aurum proposes to locate. East Oakland kids need stability, not further instability. For all of these reasons, I urge you to reject the appeal of Aurum.





Send to: jrivera@acoe.org, achildress@acoe.org, kberrick@acoe.org, aknowles@acoe.org, fsims@acoe.org, emcdonald@acoe.org, ycerrato@acoe.org

OUSD Board Resolution Affirms Oakland Schools Are Safe Spaces for All Students

For Immediate Release
December 15, 2016

OUSD Board Passes Post-Election Resolution to Support ALL Students, Families, & Staff

Community-Based Coalition Demanded Resolution to Assure Immigrant and Muslim Students: OUSD Schools Are Safe Spaces

Oakland, CA: Wednesday evening the OUSD Board of Education passed a resolution (#1617-0089) submitted by Directors Shanthi Gonzales and Roseann Torres to support all OUSD students in the wake of the election, re-affirming their support for immigrants (regardless of their status) and Muslim students, as well as students of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders and sexual orientations in our District.

img_20161215_101920The resolution was supported by a broad multi-racial and community-based coalition of student, parent, racial justice, education, faith and labor organizations after Oakland students raised their voices in the days following the election, declaring that Mr. Trump’s policies are not welcome in Oakland.

Trump himself, as well as those who he appoints, will not be in support of public education and youth, especially youth of color,” said Zhihao Guo, a 10th grader at Oakland Technical High School. “As an Asian American and student of color, I deserve the right to a good public education that helps me become aware of what is going on in my community. We must make the Oakland Unified School District a sanctuary district to provide the rightful education that we all deserve.”

The resolution reaffirms that school district’s commitment to keeping Oakland schools as safe spaces, especially important after the presidential election when many families, students and staff were left feeling vulnerable and afraid.

“We need this resolution because families feel equality will not be in their favor once president-elect Donald Trump takes office. Homes will be broken by family separation. Stress has come over children who should be doing school work but are too afraid to leave parents. Children are not getting sleep and not eating worried of being alone here,” said Sandra Wilson, a parent at Elmhurst College Prep.

“Ever since the election, so many people have been on edge! I have heard insults thrown across the room, such as immigrants not belonging here or people of color being responsible for destroying our communities. Because of this atmosphere, I and many other black students have experienced micro aggressions and we all understand that those micro aggressions can turn into full force aggressions. We feel unsafe in our own communities. Young people of color should not feel this way,” said Nailiah Williams a 12th Grader at Gateway to College at Laney.

“The morning after the election, students came to class scared and angry. One student asked while crying, ‘How could Trump win, he is racist and mean. He wants to send my parents back.’ I’m glad my union and all the community organizations came together to defend my community and students,” said Ismael Armendariz, a special education teacher at Edna Brewer Middle School.

“Some of my friends and community were terrified when President-elect Trump won, worried about what’s going to happen. The resolution makes me feel we can have a better future and I’m optimistic that things will change. I feel proud and strong to be a Muslim and an American citizen,” said Zaineb Alomari, a parent at Community United Elementary School.

The resolution was supported by the following organizations:

Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network (PLAN)
Black Organizing Project
Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area Office (CAIR-SFBA)
Californians for Justice
Centro Legal de la Raza
East Oakland DREAMers
Oakland Community Organizations
Oakland Education Association (OEA)
Parents United for Public Schools
Public Advocates
Urban Peace Movement
67 Sueños
Jorge Lerma, Educational Activist


Parents United for Public Schools Statement on the Departure of OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson

Parents United for Public Schools released the following statement on the announced departure of OUSD Superintendent Antwan Wilson:

“The departure of Superintendent Antwan Wilson midway through his contract to lead our schools presents Oakland with a unique opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past, and select a new leader who is committed to making a difference in our students’ lives and who will stay in Oakland long enough to see those changes through.

“The past two years have seen a decline in enrollment while upper-level administrative salaries have skyrocketed more than 500%. Major changes in the Programs for Exceptional Children and Student Enrollment have come without meaningful input from parents, teachers, staff or community, and the departure of long time administrators has further destabilized the district. Planning for major district initiatives has been made in closed meetings with charter leaders, but without input from our public school community. It is time for our District to put our public schools first by hiring a superintendent who believes in our public school system, who will work to create true community schools that will support and educate the whole child, and who will stay at least long enough to see those changes through.

“We call on the School Board to conduct an open and transparent search for a new superintendent in partnership with those most impacted by District policies: students, parents, teachers, staff and true community-based organizations. Our children deserve a leader with deep connections to Oakland, a strong belief in its public schools and a commitment to following through with the transformation of OUSD as a quality full-service community school district.”

MEDIA RELEASE: Oakland PTA Leaders Denounce Misleading Election Campaign

For Immediate Release

November 6, 2014

Contact: Kimi Lee, Melrose Leadership Academy PTSA President, 213-864-1744

Kim Davis, Parents United for Public Schools, 510-219-0950

Oakland PTA Leaders Denounce Misleading Election Campaign

Wall Street & Silicon Valley Billionaires Using Deceptive Name to Mislead Voters

Oakland, CA: On election eve, current and former Parent Teacher Association (PTA) leaders from a number of schools within the Oakland Unified School District are speaking out against a misleading campaign by Wall Street & Silicon Valley billionaires trying to influence local school board elections.

The special interest campaign, which is flooding local school board elections with outside money, is being heralded by a Super PAC that calls itself the Parent Teacher Alliance.  This appears to be an attempt to confuse voters and dupe them into thinking that the campaign is being supported by the more traditional non-profit & non-partisan Parent Teacher Association. Concerned by the apparently intentional similarities between the name selected by the political Parent Teacher Alliance and that of the non-profit PTA, the California PTA put out a press release in June of this year informing voters that the Super PAC is not connected to the Parent Teacher Association.

“We believe they are using the name ‘Parent Teacher Alliance’ to mislead voters. Oakland schools are not for sale, and Oakland parent leaders will not stand by while these outside billionaires attempt to mislead voters,” stated Kimi Lee, the President of the PTSA of Melrose Leadership Academy.

PTA and PTSA leaders from schools throughout Oakland released the following statement:

As leaders and members in the Parent Teacher Associations (PTA), Parent Teacher Student Associations (PTSA) and Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO) at public schools throughout Oakland, we stand in opposition to the misleading campaigning by the Parent Teacher Alliance.

The Parent Teacher Association is a national non-profit organization with branches in every state and region that serves all students and never endorses political candidates. It is trusted by parents, teachers and communities throughout California (and the country) as a voice for public schools and children.  By contrast, the similarly named Super PAC “Parent Teacher Alliance” is a political organization sponsored and funded by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates, which floods communities with outside money from Wall Street and Silicon Valley billionaires in order to convince voters to support their endorsed school board candidates. 

The National and California PTA have expressed concerns about the apparently deliberate similarities between the naming of the Super PAC and the PTA, issuing a “cease and desist” letter and a statement that the use of the name “gives an appearance … that seems to trade on the credibility and reputation” of the PTA, causing public “confusion.” We join with the PTA in protesting the misleading and continued use by the Parent Teacher Alliance of a name which causes voter confusion and may result in unintended and unfair outcomes.

As the Chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission we demand that you ensure voters are not misled in this election, and future elections, by prohibiting this Super PAC from using the Parent Teacher Alliance name. This Super PAC is NOT affiliated with the PTA and there are many parents, including the undersigned, who oppose its involvement in our school board elections in this unfair manner.


Kimi Lee, President, Melrose Leadership Academy PTSA

Etel Calles, Vice President, Melrose Leadership Academy PTSA

Linda Handy, President, Kaiser Elementary School PTA

Christy Getz, President, Edna Brewer Middle School PTSA

Ben Visnick, Treasurer & Past President, Oakland High School PTSA

Esther Gulli, First Vice President, Montera Middle School PTO

Yulanda Young Smith, Co-President, Crocker Highlands PTA

Jennifer Houser, Volunteer Coordinator, Melrose Leadership Academy PTSA

Liz Suk, Room Parent Coordinator, Melrose Leadership Academy PTSA

Joel Velasquez, Former President, Westlake Middle School PTSA

Ramon Nasol, Former Parliamentarian, Vice President & President, Joaquin Miller Elementary School PTA

Kristen Caven, Past President, Oakland Technical High School PTSA

Cathy Shadd Rosenfeld, Former Historian, Oakland Technical High School PTSA

April Schlenk, Former Co-Chair, Sequoia Elementary School PTO (FOSS)

Nancy Murr, Former VP of Communications, Oakland Technical High School PTSA

Guy Spencer, Past President, Montera PTO & Past Executive Vice President, Joaquin Miller Elementary School PTA

Melinda Gallagher, Past Secretary, Kaiser Elementary School PTA

** Titles for identification purposes only

The Oakland parent leaders have also put the statement online as a petition for other PTA members and leaders to sign at the following URL: http://bit.ly/StopMisleadingParents.


Embracing The Billionaires’ Agenda

While Oakland parents and our community have decried out-of-town Billionaires spending big in our school board races, including former Republican Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, the Super PAC that received the contribution, and the candidates benefiting from it, have not.

In fact:

  • The Board Chair of GO Public Schools Advocates, the Super PAC that received Bloomberg’s $300,000 said the organization is “proud” to have received the contribution.
  •  Jumoke Hinton-Hodge, who has benefited from GO’s Super PAC spending to the tune of $45,856, told the East Bay Times that she and GO’s Billionaire donors “have similar values.”
  • GO-endorsed candidates James Harris & Huber Trenado, who have benefited from Bloomberg and other big-money contributions from GO’s Super PAC at current totals of $85,434 and $65,568 respectively, have claimed no knowledge of the spending. However, they also haven’t denounced this big money, or the agenda it brings to Oakland.

So, this begs the question: what are Michael Bloomberg’s values?

As Mayor, Michael Bloomberg sought and received control of the schools from the elected school board. Under mayoral control:
  • Nearly 140 schools were closed, including many that had been opened during his tenure.
  • Only 13% of students of color graduated from high school ready for college (according to NY Department of Education data).
  • Mayor Bloomberg famously declared that doubling class sizes “would be a good deal for students”.
  • Bloomberg also disparaged parents who were protesting the closure of their children’s school as lacking in formal schooling and therefore unable to “understand the value of education“.

Are these education policies that GO is proud of and Director Hinton-Hodge shares? Will James Harris or Huber Trenado denounce them?

Mayor Bloomberg was also responsible for the racist “Stop and Frisk” policy in New York that resulted in 4.4 million often innocent people of color being harassed. The practice was found unconstitutional because 83% of those stopped were people of color, despite only representing 58% of the population. In a study of stops in 2011, 9 out of 10 of the stop and frisk victims were not arrested.
When will GO Public Schools Advocates, Jumoke Hinton-Hodge, James Harris, and Huber Trenado denounce these donations, and the agenda they are trying to push on Oakland schools?
Oakland deserves better than this. Vote for The People’s Slate on Tuesday.

Republican Multi-Billionaire Michael Bloomberg gives $300K to GO Public Schools for Oakland School Board Races

bloomberg-moneyLate last night, GO Public Schools’ PAC filed a campaign finance report showing a $300,000 contribution from the former Republican Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. This contribution takes GO’s fundraising to defeat our pro-public school candidates to over HALF A MILLION DOLLARS.  Bloomberg – whose net worth is $43.5 billion – pushed school privatization in New York City as mayor and had a troubling track-record on class size increases and equity for children of color in New York City’s public schools.


Oakland deserves better than Republican multi-billionaires, the Charter School Association and other outside interests manipulating our school board elections. Sign up today to knock on doors or make phone calls for our pro-public school candidates. If you can’t volunteer, make a contribution.

More on Bloomberg from The Nation:

On class sizes:

“The mayor has sought to manage the city’s 1,500 or so schools and 1.1 million students as if he were running a business. Data, derived mainly from standardized tests, are his primary management tools. While focused on test scores, Bloomberg has allowed class sizes to increase, despite the fact that class-size reduction is one of only a handful of reforms proven to narrow the achievement gap (and is the top priority of parents, according to the Education Department’s own surveys).

“In a December 2011 speech, Bloomberg said that he would double class size if he could by firing half of the teachers, and that it would be “a good deal for the students.”

On Equity for Gifted and Talented Students:

“For the first time, Bloomberg also imposed a test-based policy for admissions into gifted and talented programs, which caused the percentage of minority children in these programs to plummet. Before 2006, community school districts devised their own policies and relied on more holistic measures. In 2006, 53 percent of students in these programs were black or Hispanic; now less than one-third are. Last year, in some large areas of the Bronx, too few children tested “gifted” for a single gifted class to be offered, while in wealthier parts of the city—where parents send their 4-year-olds to expensive test-prep programs—more than half of the children are deemed gifted.”

On Charter School Expansion:

 “The expansion of charter schools has been another source of widening inequity. Bloomberg has been an aggressive proponent of charter schools, which receive public funds but are run by private corporate boards. The mayor, together with a set of wealthy philanthropists, successfully lobbied to have the cap raised on charter schools in 2007 and again in 2010. Recently, it was revealed that he plans to start his own chain of such schools when he leaves office, and has assigned city employees to the task of designing them.”

 Read more here: https://www.thenation.com/article/education-michael-bloomberg/

Pro-Public School Candidate Endorsements

Permanent absentee ballots were delivered in Alameda County this week. Share our pro-public school endorsements for the OUSD Board of Education with your Oakland friends and family today!


District 1 Read our endorsement for Don Macleay

District 3 Read our endorsement of Kharyshi Wiginton

District 5 Read our endorsement of Mike Hutchinson and Roseann Torres

District 7 Read our endorsement of Chris Jackson

You can also download and print our slate card here: parents-united-for-public-schools-slate

Below are the short answers for our candidate questionnaire. Full answers can be found here.

(Click Image above to enlarge)

Parents United Endorses Mike Hutchinson & Rosie Torres in District 5

In Oakland, we have a democratically elected public school board which is responsible to voters, to parents, to teachers and community. Great Oakland Public Schools (“GO”) threatens to distort that democratic process by “just doing whatever it takes” to win seats on the School Board. It has already raised almost $150,000 to do just that, with still five weeks to go until the election. Almost $50,000 each from San Francisco billionaire venture capitalist Arthur Rock and local millionaire T. Gary Rogers, whose family foundation is interested in expanding charter schools in Oakland, adding 10,000 new seats by 2020. Money and support pour in from the California Charter School Association and local charter school supporters. Money given to ensure that our school board continues to be charter friendly, continues to open new schools and rubber stamp renewals of existing ones, continues to offer up our students and facilities to privately managed, distinctly non-democratic, charter schools.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-1-53-01-pmIn District 5, candidate Mike Hutchinson is committed to public education in Oakland. Mike is a lifelong public school advocate, the son of two educators who has seen, in his 25 years working with youth, the dismantling of our public schools through school closures and charter school proliferation. Mike has witnessed first hand the impact of the state takeover of our district and how our board has failed to reassert its role as the protectors of our public schools. Mike is a passionate advocate for strong community schools, for re-prioritizing the budget to support those schools and for strong oversight of our existing charter schools. Mike is running an independent campaign with support from community, not corporate reformers. Mike would serve District 5 with integrity and the tireless commitment he has shown for the past five years and more, and Parents United for Public Schools is proud to support Mike Hutchinson for School Board in District 5.

rosieDistrict 5 is unusual in that it is the only of the four districts up this year in which GO did not endorse the incumbent. Director Roseann Torres was elected in 2012 as the official GO-backed candidate, but has deviated from GO’s agenda and so now they are running someone against their former choice. Director Torres voted against several charter schools including GO favorite EBIA, publicly criticised the Common Enrollment proposal and has called for more oversight of the charter industry. She authored the Ethnic Studies legislation and opposed a possible charter takeover of Fremont High. While we would like to see Director Torres take a more consistent line on charters, we respect that she has taken a stand against corporate funders and GO Public Schools, and we are therefore also supporting Roseann Torres in District 5.

Under ranked choice voting in Oakland elections, it is critical that you vote for Mike Hutchinson AND Roseann Torres, and NOT for the GO endorsed candidate Huber Trenado or charter industry money man Michael Hassid. We have a unique opportunity here in Oakland to take a stand AGAINST corporate money and FOR democratically elected candidates supported by parents, teachers, students and community members, independent leaders who will help us strengthen our public schools.


Ways to help Mike and Rosie: Go to their websites and Facebook pages, like and share, donate to the campaign, volunteer to knock on doors or phone bank.

You can find full answers to Mike’s and Rosie’s candidate questionnaires here.

Parents United Endorses Donald Macleay in District 1

Prior to 2012, Oakland school board elections had historically been narrowly watched, with limited expenditure of limited funds, mostly raised from local donors. In 2012 that all changed when GO Public Schools, through its Political Action Committee (PAC), raised $184,000 from organizations and individuals, many from outside of Oakland. GO used those funds to elect School Board candidates who went on to support the market reform agenda of their big money donors: the expansion and proliferation of charter schools, at the expense of our traditional public schools.

District 1 has twice elected Jody London to be its representative on the School Board. In 2008, Director London ran against Brian Rogers — a founder of GO Public Schools — and won. In the next election, in 2012, Jody won again, without the endorsement of GO, who did not endorse in that race. In 2013, Director London publicly declared that she would not vote for any more charter schools in Oakland, a position that was contrary to positions taken by GO and its major donors, the Rogers family and the California Charter School Association. But times have changed, Director London has voted to approve charter schools, including, most recently, a school that GO founder Brian Rogers sits on the board of. This year, Jody London has been endorsed by GO Public Schools as their candidate of choice in District 1.
donWe believe it is time for a change in District 1. Jody used to be an independent voice on the board, but she no longer is. Parents United for Public Schools believes that Donald Macleay will be an independent voice for parents who believe that we need to focus on creating and supporting strong public schools, not privately-managed charter schools. Accordingly, Parents United joins the Oakland Education Association, the Oakland Justice Coalition, and numerous others in endorsing Don Macleay for School Board in District 1.

The contrast between Don’s answers to our candidate questionnaire, and Jody’s answers, is troubling:

  • Don believes that we need to end the school-to-prison pipeline by providing restorative justice counselors and a decreased police presence on every campus. Jody isn’t sure.
  • Don understands that we need enrollment reform, not common enrollment. Jody isn’t sure.
  • Don does not support an “Equity Pledge” that hasn’t come from community needs or demands and which doesn’t hold charter schools accountable. Jody isn’t sure.
  • Don believes that the OUSD office tasked with ensuring oversight of our charter schools should be fully staffed with independent staff members who have the training and experience to hold charter schools accountable. Jody isn’t sure.
  • Don has committed to refusing campaign contributions from organizations or individuals which have an agenda of charter proliferation. Jody isn’t sure.

district-1-side-by-sideIn this time of unprecedented spending by wealthy individuals and organizations from outside of Oakland, we need someone who is sure they will not be politically influenced, and who will focus on keeping public schools public, transparent and accountable. Don’s campaign motto is “Accountability Matters.” We believe that Don Macleay will be accountable to parents, students, teachers and community leaders. We believe that Don will hold charter schools accountable for serving all students. We believe that Don Macleay is the best candidate in District 1.

Without GO behind him, Don will need our help in reaching out to voters in District 1. Come meet Don on Wednesday, September 28th at 6:30 p.m. at an open education forum at 4920 Telegraph Avenue. Go to Don’s website to volunteer or to make a donation: http://www.don4ousd.org/  Let’s continue to work to take back our school district and keep our public schools public, and elect Don Macleay to the School Board in District 1.

You can read Don’s complete answers to our candidate questionnaire by clicking here.