Third question from the OEA Endorsement Questionnaire with my response:
- Given the eternally limited budget resources of the public schools, what current programs/proposals do you feel are successful? What would you keep and build on? How would you restructure the OUSD budget to meet the needs of students and the teachers and educators serving our students?
We need to maximize resources to school sites. Caring adults at school sites are the people who make the difference in students’ lives, especially students who are dealing with the trauma of racism and poverty on a daily basis. School site teams such as a well-organized SSC including the principal, staff, and parents, are the best equipped to make the decisions about what their sites need most.
Just like schools have to justify their budgets every year based on their goals for their students, our central office should also be a ‘zero-based budget’ - that is to say, departments should only be funded every year based on the needs of students at schools, not because they are being protected by powerful friends in the central office. Also, we should compare our central office to those at other districts to see if there are best practices we can learn from to ‘right-size’ our central office. For example, it is clear we can eliminate the Oakland Schools Police Dept. (see below) - similar districts do not have their own police department.
On the positive side, I am very proud of the achievements of Measure N, which has raised graduation rates at our high schools. I remember first hearing about Linked Learning in 2011 at an OCO meeting. OCO played a key role in drafting the measure, and I was one of many volunteers who knocked on doors in 2014 to get it passed. Even in the worst of the Antwan Wilson years, the language of Measure N protected those funds from mismanagement. Of course nothing is perfect, but Measure N has transformed our high schools for the better, as promised. There are many lessons to be learned from that experience.