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.

Spread the word

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

Love, Literacy, and Liberation

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.

Citizen Ed: Access Denied Podcast

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.