Since our launch in 2009, GO Public Schools Oakland has connected the public to public education by informing and empowering community members about district and school policies and practices through communications and events.
We bring people together to realize the most effective solutions to ensure educational excellence and equity for Oakland students.
Two key issues during the 2008-2009 school year brought together our network of parents, educators, and community members to begin building GO to ensure our community had information and opportunities to shape decisions about our public schools and hold leaders accountable.
First, in September 2008, the leadership of the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) presented a plan suggesting that the school board close 10-17 small schools with little regard to school performance. Community and school leaders organized parents, teachers, students, and principals to talk to the school board members about the positive impact these small schools were having on increasing student achievement in Oakland schools. In response to this organizing, the board decided not to close schools based only on size, and instead, to organize citywide community engagement about the future of at-risk school communities.
Second, in January 2009, the Interim Superintendent announced a plan to pass nearly 100 percent of a $17 million mid-year budget cut on to school sites. Parents, teachers, and community requested copies of the central office budgets and recommended more than $17 million of cuts to the central office that they make prior to cutting programs and services directly serving children at schools. These recommendations were presented to the school board who directed the Interim Superintendent to keep cuts as far from classrooms as possible. In the end, 75 percent of the 2009 mid-year budget cuts were made in the central offices.
These experiences led us to create an organization that would continue to provide information and advocacy to ensure great schools for all Oakland children.
In the fall of 2009, we launched Great Oakland Public Schools Information Center – a 501(c)(3) organization – to support our network with policy expertise and communications capacity. In 2011, we changed our name to Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center, and in 2015 we re-organized as GO Public Schools Oakland as our network grew to include other California communities.
GO’s founding Declaration of Beliefs and Visions for Improving Oakland Schools was endorsed by more than 250 parents, teachers, principals, and community leaders from the heartlands and hills, East, West, and North Oakland, charter and district public schools in 2009-10. This roster of signers demonstrated the size and diversity of the GO network, launching us as an organization and network focused on solutions for students.
The Declaration was based on six fundamental conditions for attaining quality in our school system:
(1) Give schools and school site leaders autonomy in return for accountability for student achievement;
(2) Attract, develop, and keep excellent, effective teachers;
(3) Attract, develop, and keep excellent, effective school and district leaders;
(4) Ensure personalized educational experiences that prepare all students for life, college, and career;
(5) Promote and ensure diversity and innovation in school programs including charter public schools; and
(6) Treat families and community as allies and partners in the work of educating Oakland students.
Over the last seven years, GO has become a recognized leader, convener, and source of critical information and analysis in public education in Oakland, supporting families, educators, and community leaders to serve the approximately 49,000 public school students across the city.
We strive to empower our constituents to have a voice and participate in the decisions that impact children in schools and the wider district.
As mentioned, GO Public Schools Advocates began endorsing school board candidates in 2012.