Support OUSD High Schools - Vote No New Charter!
Support OUSD High Schools - Vote No New Charter!
We represent a group of students, parents, educators, administrators and nearby community members at several OUSD high schools, and we are asking the Alameda Board of Education to support Oakland public schools by voting against a new charter school petition from the charter school chain Education for Change. Please support our call below for the Alameda County Board to reject this charter petition because it does not meet the legal requirements of the Charter Schools Act and Oakland can't afford any new charter schools.
Dear Alameda County Board of Education Trustees:
We are writing as Oakland and Alameda County high school students, parents, educators, and community members who day-in-and-day-out are fighting to make our Oakland public high schools joyful places that instill creativity and critical thinking skills, provide rich social-emotional support, and support our young people as they become college and career ready. This is not easy work, or a struggle that we take lightly. Right now, our mission is especially difficult because we are doing it with fewer-and-fewer resources. This is just one reason why we need you to reject the charter petition for Latitude High School from the charter school chain Education for Change. Oakland public school students can’t afford any new charter schools, and the petition before you does not meet the legal requirements of the Charter Schools Act.
OUSD’s recent budget cuts have impacted our schools -- and schools like ours -- the most. Schools like ours have high densities of newcomer students, english language learners, and unhoused students, as well as students who come to school every day carrying the impacts of poverty on our communities. For example, at Fremont High School 83% of our students are eligible for free and reduced meals, 16% of students are unhoused, and 37% are english language learners. Similarly, at Castlemont High School, 80% of our students are eligible for free and reduced meals, 15% are unhoused, and 25% are english language learners. We serve high percentages of these students because we truly serve ALL students at our schools, and we are serving them with less and less money.
Our students can’t afford to have their budgets cut again, but that is what you would do by allowing Education for Change to open this school in Oakland. Education for Change argues that you MUST open this school to give Oakland students the opportunity they are offering, but in reality they are only proposing this opportunity for 50 students next year, while over 9000 students in OUSD high schools will continue our mission to build great schools, but with fewer resources.
In addition to our concerns about how this petition will hurt OUSD high schools, it does not meet the legal requirement of the California Charter Schools Act in the following ways:
- The program that Education for Change is offering is already in place and thriving at OUSD’s MetWest High School and Fremont High School. Other Oakland high schools would love to have the resources to add this program. The intent of the Charter Schools Act was for schools to innovate, not replicate existing District programs, which is what Education for Change is proposing.
- Currently, EFC’s schools are underserving Special Education students when compared to the District. Only 7.7% of EFC students had an IEP, while 11% of OUSD students do. The schools that would be the most impacted by the proposed charter, serve much higher percentages of special education students than Education for Change. In addition, when you dig deeper in the data, you find that EFC is serving less special education students with the greatest needs, while the District is serving ALL students, and at higher rates .
- Education for Change is not serving African American students at the same levels as OUSD. In 2016/17 African American students were only 9.5% of EFC’s schools, in sharp contrast to 25% African-American students in OUSD District-wide, 26% at Fremont, 36% at Castlemont, and 25% at MetWest .
- Education for Change's middle school - which is intended to be the feeder school for the proposed high school - is struggling. EPIC Middle School’s enrollment went down by 89 students this year – that’s a 21% decrease – enrollment is 32% below their goal. Also, math test scores at EPIC aren’t improving. Starting a new and ambitious high school program while their middle school program is struggling makes the proposed high school unlikely to succeed.
- Education for Change’s petition lacks a reasonably comprehensive description of the education program, including a lack of specific commitments from partner organizations to provide internships and partnership opportunities for the school -- something Oakland’s high schools that already provide this program have. The petition also lacks a replacement curriculum if the proposed extended learning program fails to draw sufficient partners.
- Education for Change’s petition also lacks a reasonably comprehensive description of a Conflict of Interest policy that would ensure compliance with the provisions of Government Code section 1090’s prohibition against the entry of contracts in which a Board member has a financial interest.
For all these reasons, and more, we ask you to reject the charter school petition from Education for Change. Alameda County Superintendent Karen Monroe said recently, “[OUSD] has little margin for error at this point.” Not only do OUSD’s finances have very little margin for error, but our students have very little margin for error too, and if the ACOE Board approves this charter school, it will be a grave error for them. Please take a stand for the 9000+ students in Oakland’s public high schools who are fighting to build the schools they truly deserve, and can’t afford any more errors.
Jasmene Miranda, Fremont High School, Media Academy Director & Graduate
Gema Quetzal, Life Academy High School Student, OUSD Student Trustee
Nidya Baez, Fremont High School Assistant Principal & Graduate
Patricia Arabia, Fremont High School, Mandela Law & Public Service Academy Director
Georgina Chavez, OUSD Special Education Parent, Fruitvale District Resident
Josie Camacho, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Alameda Labor Council, & Castlemont Graudate