Not what I hoped.

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.

Down to the wire

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:

Our schools are confronting a crisis. Overall, only 1 in 3 students are reading at grade level in Oakland’s public schools. In some schools just 1 in 5 students are at grade level. Reading is a singular foundational skill that every student needs to master, and our school district is failing our children at an alarming rate. Today I am joining with other candidates for school board to lift up the need to address this crisis. We urgently need policies and curriculum that assure every child in this city will be reading at grade level by they time they reach 3rd grade.

School board candidates supporting the #LiteracyAndJusticeForAll campaign are:

  • District 3 – Maiya Edgerly & Mark Hurty
  • District 5 – Leroy Gaines & Jorge Lerma
  • District 7 – Dr. Cliff Thompson

Please join us in to confront this injustice by casting your first and second choice votes for Maiya Edgerly and me in District 3.

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:

Is an 80% failure rate acceptable?

I was raised by exceptional parents. They were feminists, peace activists, and public education advocates who raised me, my brother, and two sisters with a healthy progressive view of the world. My father’s pragmatic intellectualism was balanced by my mother’s idealism and creativity. Our dinner table was home to discussions of politics, philosophy, religion, social justice, and peace. We moved to Oakland in 1968, as the civil rights movement peaked, and as the anti-war movement was revving up. From my parents I learned that justice and peace are the fruits of intentional, progressive action. They raised us to be social justice warriors.

This election is just one front on which the social justice battle is being fought. People have taken to the streets to raise voices for justice, for equity, and to call for an end to the systemic racism that has prevented America from becoming the ideal democracy that many of us believe it can be. I am here for this fight.

And what are we fighting for? What my parents taught us is that it is our duty to exercise our privilege in service of those who have been denied equitable access to the rights and privileges of our nation. I am fighting for the children of Oakland, especially those black and brown children who have been failed by our school district — in some schools 80% of students do not read at grade level. In what other context would we consider an 80% failure rate acceptable? Over the past months the other candidates and I have met and had conversations in multiple forums with the community. I have pushed to keep those conversations focused on what is important: confronting the literacy crisis; permanently bridging the digital divide; and making changes to the OUSD budgeting process to assure equitable funding for students across the city. Win or lose, I know that my campaign has helped to center the most important challenges facing our school district.

I aim to win, and to be in a position to push the agenda for a high quality education for every student in Oakland. If I am not elected, I am hoping that Maiya Edgerly wins the seat. Maiya is a powerful advocate for students in Oakland, and we are fully aligned on the issues. She will be the kind of social justice warrior that our children need. I am so glad to have met her during this campaign, and I am proud to call her a friend. If she wins, I will continue to support her as she confronts the challenges of sitting on the board. And if I win, I will lean on Maiya for her insight, her deep understanding of the community, and her wisdom. In Oakland’s ranked choice voting system, it’s important to win both first and second choice votes, and Maiya and I are encouraging voters to choose us both when making choices for the top two slots.

I know that many of you reading this are friends and family, and not necessarily voters in Oakland. I am extremely grateful for all of your support over the past few months. We are just days away from an election that will have major consequences for our nation. I know that we may be focused on those races that are at the top of the ballot, but I want you to know that your interest in this school board election (which is the last item on the back side of the last of several pages of the Oakland ballot) is just as important to the children of Oakland as the choice of a new president.

If you haven’t voted yet, please vote! And if you are an Oakland voter in District 3, please cast your first and second choices for me and Maiya. And if you have already voted, thank you.

PS – As I was writing this I heard that George Holland, Sr. (president of the NAACP Oakland Branch) endorsed me and Maiya. Several of my endorsements are dual endorsements with Maiya, further underlining the collaborative nature of our campaigns.

Serious Candidates

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.

East Bay Times | Mercury News Editorial, October 6, 2020

Please read and share with your friends and neighbors!

The League of Women Voters

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!

Check your mailbox

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.

Virtual House Parties

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 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!

Endorsement Update!

I’m proud to announce that our campaign for quality education got a big boost from some new endorsements. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is endorsing, as is GO Public Schools. These two endorsements are coupled with key endorsements from current School Board directors Jumoke Hinton and Gary Yee. See all endorsements here. And if you are willing to add your name to the endorsement list, let me know!

And I would be remiss if I didn’t note some endorsements if my own.

  • I am enthusiastically supporting California Prop. 15, the Schools and Communities First initiative that closes the corporate loopholes that were put in place with Prop 13 in the 1970s. Prop 15 restores some of the funding to schools by asking corporations to pay their fair share of property taxes.
  • I am endorsing Oakland Measure Y. This provides needed funds to update our school facilities, and for District 3 in particular, funds are designated for our high school, McClymonds.
  • I’m also endorsing my friend Maiya Edgerly who, like me is running for the District 3 seat on the school board. In a ranked choice voting environment it’s important that you make a first second and third choice on your ballot. I hope you’ll mark me as your first choice, and choose Maiya for your second choice. And for your third choice I recommend Maximo Santana.
  • If you vote in other Oakland districts, I endorse Leroy Gaines in District 5, Dr. Clifford Thompson and Bronché Taylor in District 7 , and Austin Dannhaus in District 1.

Every Oakland voter will receive a ballot in the mail for this election. I encourage you to fill out your ballot and mail it back as soon as you receive it. This year, more than ever, every vote needs to be counted!

It’s Official!

Last week I turned in my nomination signatures and was officially placed on the ballot for the November 3 election. I want to thank all of you who have helped me get to this milestone, either through your generous donations or by giving your time and talents to helping me shape my campaign’s goals. We are now just 77 days away from the election and the opportunity to make choices that will determine the future of the children of Oakland.*

A vote for me is a vote that will put a director on the school board who:

  • will advocate fiercely for the right of each child learn to read by the 3rd grade and receive literacy support at every grade level, assuring that our children are prepared and able to choose a future path that leads to college or a meaningful career.
  • will lead in the development of policies that bridge the digital divide, acknowledging that access to technology is a fundamental right — that no child should be denied the tools that will help them become full participants in the 21st century society.
  • has the experience and passion to address the challenges of a district budget that has for far too long denied many children in this city access to a high quality public school.

The challenges we face as we confront the COVID-19 pandemic call for an innovative response. In confronting this crisis, I see an opportunity to break down the old inequities that disenfranchised so many of our children. As we move forward with plans to implement distance and hybrid learning models, we can begin to support our teachers across the city with opportunity for meaningful collaboration. Teachers from every school at every grade level will be empowered to share strategies and support each other and their students, coupling great teaching with the added power of technology. No longer bound by the limitations of physical space, we can provide teachers with the tools and professional development to support students in new and innovative ways. And with the resources that we receive to confront the pandemic we can support families, and free them from the difficult choice between earning a living and supporting their children with home learning.

Please, help me share this message. Tell your friends, share on your social media! And please reach out with your hopes and dreams for what we can do in service of the children of Oakland.

* There are, of course, other important reasons to vote on November 3. As you may know, the opportunity to choose a school board member is near the bottom of the ballot. While I believe that choosing a school board member is extremely important, I also recognize that there are important choices at the top of the ballot, choices that are critical to the preservation of our democracy. Please exercise your voice!

Every Oakland voter will receive a ballot in the mail this fall. Be sure to keep an eye out for your ballot and vote early to assure your vote is counted.