Policy Spotlight: Community of Schools Citywide Plan
In 2017, GO Public Schools Oakland launched the 1Oakland campaign, through which they are working to build a community movement to hold district and charter leaders accountable for actively collaborating to manage Oakland’s system of public schools to increase quality, equity, and sustainability. The Community of Schools Citywide Plan was a major win in this campaign. Passed by the OUSD school board on March 20, 2019 by a vote of 5-1-1, the plan is inclusive of nearly everyrecommendation demanded by the 1Oakland campaign, including taking steps toward determining a single measure of quality for all OUSD public schools, shrinking and redesigning the central office, and identifying how OUSD can support innovation and increase the number of high-quality school options within the district.
To encourage the passing of the plan and build their clear demands, 1Oakland community leaders dedicated more than 2,500 hours to community engagement, including meeting with hundreds of community members, engaging with elected officials, communicating across social media channels and with earned media, and showing up in force amidst public opposition to demand that the Oakland community come together towards common ground—arguing for the focus to be on creating more quality overall in our district-run and public charter schools.
Oakland continues to be one of the foremost pressure points of the ongoing national district-versus-charter school debate and faces many other challenges, including an ongoing budget crisis, school closures and consolidations, and the fallout of a recent teacher strike. While there was significant local coverage about this win, it flew under the radar nationally because of the many major news stories in Oakland education.
However, this win is a beacon of what is possible in Oakland and communities across the country. Since its passing, advocates have seen positive signs of growing district-charter collaboration—collaboration that could be replicated in other districts. This win is significant not only in that it will lead to meaningful change for Oakland students, but because it shows what is possible, even in the most divisive environments when leaders put the needs of students first. Even when the rhetoric suggests a divided city, this win shows that the majority of Oaklanders (as well as the leaders of the school district, charter public schools, and school board) are aligned on coming together for more quality for students, in both district-run and charter public schools.