I will admit that I am sad this evening as I consider the outcome of the election for school board. I had hoped to put my experience and passion for education to work for the students of Oakland. The voters had other ideas. We don’t yet have a final result and we may not know for a few days who has won the seat, but I know it won’t be me. I will do what I can to support the eventual winner as she or he faces the challenges of shaping policies that lead to better outcomes for all the students of the city. I am grateful for the support you all showed me, and your belief that there is a better future for Oakland’s schools.
We’re getting close to Election Day. In years past it was possible to vote early or choose a mail in ballot and send it back to the Alameda County Registrar’s office in advance of Election Day. But I don’t think we’ve ever seen the kind of early voting response that we’re seeing this year. When I checked this morning, over 14,000 of the 28,000 voters in Oakland District 3 who voted in the last two general elections have already voted. And at least 3,000 more voters who didn’t vote in November of 2016 and 2018 have also voted this year. (Yep, over 17,000 ballots have already been cast in District 3.)
That still leaves thousands of votes still up for grabs, and it’s important to keep reaching out to voters with a message of hope and change. Here’s an excerpt of the message I’m sending to voters today:
Despite the challenges, there is hope that we can make the changes that will put Oakland’s children on a path to a brighter future. I am grateful for your continued support!
Here’s a video I shared recently with a group of teachers in Oakland. It’s posted on Vimeo and you should feel free to share it with your contacts here in District 3 in Oakland.
You can use this URL to share: https://vimeo.com/467487314
Please make sure you mark the back side of the sixth page of your ballot!
The Mercury News printed an editorial naming me and my good friends Dr. Clifford Thompson, Leroy Gaines, and Austin Dannhaus as the four candidates who are serious about bringing change to the district and focusing on student outcomes.
Four Oakland school board candidates serious about change
With district future at stake, the standout candidates are Austin Dannhaus in District 1; Mark Hurty in District 3; Leroy Gaines in District 5; and Clifford Thompson in District 7…
“They will bring the proper focus on student performance and district financial sustainability.”
Please read and share with your friends and neighbors!
I made a short video that speaks to the need to address Oakland’s literacy crisis. Here’s a link you can use to share it on your social media: https://youtu.be/lU5tsoFuGZQ
My 87-year-old mother is a long-time member of the League of Women Voters and we always had LWV information around our home during election season when I was growing up. So I was very excited to be invited to participate in the League’s forum in Late September. They’ve now posted a recording of that forum on YouTube, and I think it was a very good forum. If you haven’t had a chance to see it, check it out. My mom watched it and she called me afterwords to say she thought I did a pretty good job!
I had the opportunity to join my friend Dirk Tillotson on his CitizenEd podcast, and we talked about the digital divide and the great work that The Oakland Reach is doing in Oakland to show positive ways to support home learning. The Literacy Liberation Center that The Oakland Reach developed this summer has gained national attention because it is such a powerful model for how to address the dual issues of literacy and digital access.
Pastor Guy Robinson, a familiar face to many of you in West Oakland, was also a guest on the show, and he spoke about the powerful outcomes for his grandsons in the Literacy Liberation Center, and how the power of love that permeated the program was central to that success.
If you have some time, please watch the podcast — it was inspiring to hear from a parent and a grandparent about what is possible when we focus on what children and families need to succeed in this challenging time.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the [wo]men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The best methods and strategies for educating children have been a frequent topic of conversation in our family over the decades. My mother earned her PhD in educational psychology from UC Berkeley as Anna and I were starting our family and eager to raise well rounded children. We all shared a heightened interest in this topic, and thirty-five years later, the answer to what is the best method for teaching children has not changed: invest in creating a yearning in our children. How to do that, is not really a mystery: the first and most critical step is teaching children to read.
District wide, our schools are not teaching this most critical and basic skill. 1 in 3 students do not read at grade level, and if you look at the situation for black and brown students, the number is closer to 1 in 5 students reading at grade level. This is not acceptable.
A significant number of school age children in Oakland do not attend our district’s schools. Many families choose a charter school, but nearly as many opt to send their students to schools outside of the district. When you think about OUSD’s literacy statistics, is it any surprise? If we are to have any hope of increasing district revenue and building high quality schools, we need to teach our students to read, to give them the ability to yearn for the vast and endless sea of knowledge that beckons. That is the only way to bring students who have opted out of the district back to our schools. With those additional students we will be able to afford to create even more compelling school choices for families.
As your school board representative I will sponsor board policies that focus our district on teaching students to read, and assure that every child in Oakland is reading at grade level by the third grade. Until we meet this goal, we will not be able to attract the thousands of Oakland students who are choosing to attend schools outside of our district. When we are meeting this goal, and the quality of education rises to the world class level that befits a world class city like Oakland, we will see a significant positive change in our district’s resources. It’s not possible to build a world class district by nipping at the margins of efficiency. To create a world class district we need to invest in quality now, by focusing our resources on addressing the most pressing challenges. In this case, it’s teaching our children to read.
As I write this, there are just 38 days until Nov. 3. But in Oakland, and all throughout California, voting really begins in less than 2 weeks when voters begin receiving their mail in ballots. In many parts of the state you’ll be able to turn in a ballot at a voting location on Election Day, but my advice is that you mark your ballot as soon as you receive it, and mail it back right away.
For Oakland voters the stakes are extremely high. Children in this district deserve a high quality education, and our new school board is going to be facing significant challenges in delivering on that promise. As a new board member I will make it my priority to address the three most pressing issues that the district faces:
- A literacy crisis that is at the root of the academic achievement challenges in the district.
- The digital divide that positions many of our most vulnerable children on the far side of a chasm that restricts their access to quality distance learning.
- A district budget that may not reflect the most important priorities we need to address in our schools.
If you live in District 3 you may have received a postcard from me in your mailbox. Please keep it handy when you mark your ballot — I hope it will remind you about my priorities and guide you as you cast your vote.
For those of you who are not District 3 voters, I’m attaching a copy of that postcard here so you can see how we are reaching out to voters. I was able to send this card because of the financial support many of you provided. I am grateful!
PS – Late Breaking: I just learned that I was endorsed by the Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus.
PPS – I have extra printed postcards that can be handed out in your neighborhood (if you live in District 3). If you have someplace to share them, let me know and I will arrange to get them to you.
In a typical campaign I would be reaching out to friends, family, and other supporters and asking if you would host a house party in your home where I could meet extended circles of friends and acquaintances. The goal would be to broaden support and enlist more voices in our campaign for quality schools in Oakland. But these are not normal times, so I’m not running a typical campaign. But there is still a way to connect. Several of my friends and supporters have hosted virtual house parties via ZOOM, and I am hoping that I can encourage anyone who is interested to join in the fun. It’s pretty easy.
Reach out to me at email@example.com and we can choose a time that works for both of us. All you have to do is invite your friends and send them a link to a ZOOM meeting that I will set up for us. It seems to work well with 8-12 participants. Let me know if you are interested, and we can put it on the calendar!