(at left: an Oakland SOL student at the SF Youth Climate Strike today)
After that really difficult last school board meeting, I needed to have my faith in humanity restored. The Emerson PTA meeting on Sept. 12 did just that: a wonderful warm gathering of involved parents, with potluck dinner and translators in three languages. Ben Grieff from Evolve did a great presentation to the PTA on Schools and Communities First, the proposed reform to Prop 13 that will raise billions of dollars for education, and only affect commercial property, not any residences. There will be an exemption for small businesses on properties worth less than $3 million.
If you also want to bask in the positive energy at Emerson, you should go to their Superhero Walkathon on Fri., Oct. 4. Volunteers are needed all day from 8:00 to 3:00 pm and you can sign up to help here. There will also be a Fall Family Reading Celebration on Oct. 10 at 5 pm at the school.
This week I also went by Sankofa Academy and Chabot Elementary. Sankofa's Back to School Night had very high turnout, and everybody was moved to hear that the local realtor's office would be donating supplies and volunteer time to the school. Parents voted to form a PTA starting next month. Sankofa will also have a family-oriented event on Oct. 10, a Space Science Family STEAM Event from 5:30 to 7:00 pm in the Auditorium.
The Sankofa community has also been invited to participate in Peralta's annual Walkathon on Sat., Oct. 19, from noon to 4:30 pm.
Mayor Libby Schaaf attended Chabot's PTA meeting this week because the community was shaken by two incidents where a noose was found on or near campus. There's no way to know for sure if these were hate crimes or just pranks gone wrong, but the school is using this as an opportunity to educate everybody about the awful history of lynching and other racist violence in the U.S. The school is partnering with CircleUp Education to hold restorative justice circles and awareness trainings, and is also providing support to families who are understandably upset by these incidents.
At my son's school, Claremont, everyone is excited by the new astroturf soccer field that was installed over the summer. However, we still lack a cafeteria, since it burned down several years ago. We were supposed to get it rebuilt out of Measure J funding, but due in part to misspending and poor planning (as described in the recent Grand Jury report), Oakland Unified ran out of money before it got to Claremont, as well as a host of other important building projects across Oakland.
The state of California has just decided to put another bond measure on the ballot in March of 2020. However, districts need to pass their own local bond measures in order to qualify for matching funds from the state. I am on a committee advocating for a new bond measure for Oakland school construction on the November 2020 ballot. This measure could take care of Claremont's cafeteria and the other projects that were never completed, as well as have money left over for other construction needs around the school district. However, for this measure to be successful, there needs to be better oversight in place, comparable to the kind of oversight in Measure N funding that brought success to our high school career programs, during the same period that Measure J funding was mismanaged. I hope that the OUSD board will pass this bond measure oversight language as soon as possible, to show the community that it takes its responsibility for managing school construction funding very seriously.