Only 1 of 3 students attending school in Oakland read at grade level. Let that sink in — nearly 66% of students in this city are being failed by our schools. The statistics are even more troubling for black and brown students. At some schools, as few as 1 in 5 students are reading at grade level. That’s an 80% failure rate. This is also a generational issue — many parents and grandparents of Oakland students, who themselves attended school in Oakland are unable to read, having been failed by a system of education that does not deliver on this single, most critical, and basic skill: reading. A student who does not read at grade level by the 3rd grade is far less likely to graduate from high school. Time for tinkering is past.
Oakland Unified School District needs a revolution: we must engage in an all-out campaign to teach our children to read.
In Mark’s first school board meeting he will introduce a board policy to establish a requirement that every student is reading at grade level by the third grade. Mark will look to build partnerships with leaders in organizations like The Oakland Reach and others who are pushing for a structured literacy program — community leaders who are already working to bring about this revolutionary change. We face serious challenges in Oakland, and the current pandemic is making life more difficult for everyone. Our students must be our priority. This is a time for revolutionary thinking and action.
Mark has a deep understanding of the district’s needs and a vision for the future.
Mark has been a student, a parent, and a teacher in Oakland Unified School District. He is running for a seat on the Oakland School Board because he believes that the district is not living up to its obligation to provide every student in the city with the high-quality education they deserve. The lopsided availability of resources in Oakland’s schools is perpetuating and compounding systemic inequity in our city. Like many districts, Oakland struggles to attract and retain the teachers who will provide a quality education for the next generation of students, a problem exacerbated by the district’s budget challenges. And having recently completed a Certification in Education Finance through Georgetown University, Mark will support policies that require a budgeting process that engages the community and makes OUSD’s budget more transparent and equitable.
Mark has broad experience in the education technology sector and has the vision to set policy that will bridge the digital divide.
Mark will bring his experience as an arts organization founder, as a successful high-tech product manager, and his perspective as a special education teacher to bear on the significant problems faced by the district. OUSD has a history of administrative mismanagement and has consistently struggled to allocate sufficient resources to schools. Mark will work to lead the board to establish policies that modernize and bring discipline to the district’s central administration with the goal of redirecting the districts resources to better serve students. Mark will work to ensure that every student in Oakland has access to a high quality education, regardless of the neighborhood where they live. And the board needs someone with Mark’s extensive experience in technology as we face the massive challenges of providing education for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What does a high quality education for Oakland’s students look like?
First and foremost, our schools need to teach children to read. The literacy crisis in Oakland is the most critical issue to be addressed. Grade-level literacy will unlock the opportunity for schools to offer experience in the arts, and real-world opportunities for creative expression. I believe in supporting programs like the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) program at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, and the Culinary Arts academy at Ralph Bunche High School. Mark will support these and other new programs that enrich the lives of our students and the community. We can do this! Oakland teachers are capable, creative, and committed to offering the best education possible to our students. It’s up to the board of education to support our superintendent and her team with the kind of policies that make this high quality education a reality in Oakland!
Mark was a candidate for the District 3 director’s seat in November 2020. (serving West Oakland, Downtown, Uptown, and the west side of Lake Merritt.)