A decade ago, school board elections in Oakland were a quieter matter than they are now. Most elections involved a single candidate running uncontested in their district.
That’s changed. We haven’t seen an uncontested race since 2010. Voters have real choices. We think that’s good for democracy and civic participation. It’s also changed the dynamics of school board elections – into a louder process with more debate, where citizens need more information on their choices.
Making sure voters have that information is a time-consuming and, frankly, expensive process, and we’re grateful that contributors have supported GO in ways that enable us to get that information out. Every contribution to GO Public Schools Advocates supports a vision for school board leadership driven by more than 100 family members, educators, and community members who came together to recommend the candidates who’ll do most for our students — especially those who’ve struggled in our schools in the past.
“Every contribution to GO Public Schools Advocates supports a vision for school board leadership driven by more than 100 family members, educators, and community members who came together to recommend the candidates who’ll do most for our students — especially those who’ve struggled in our schools in the past.”
The role of financial contributions in elections can be controversial. So we want to be transparent about the nature of contributions we’ve received, and how those funds are spent.
Here’s how GO Public Schools Advocates has spent its funds so far this election season:
- The largest single portion – nearly 40 percent – goes to mailers. It’s the single best way to put memorable information and facts into voters’ hands.
- Another third goes into staff time – mostly supporting volunteers and working on information that go out in mail and email. A small chunk more goes to supplies and food for our volunteers.
- About 10 percent goes into advertising that you might see online or in newspapers.
- About 10 percent goes to polling to understand how to prioritize our efforts.
- About 1 percent are contributions to the candidates’ campaigns.
In all, thanks to these funds, we’ve been able to support more than 170 people who have completed more than 350 volunteer shifts. That is an investment of over 1,000 hours to get the word out about the candidates that they believe will do the most to help students in Oakland continue to improve and do so faster.
We’re proud that our roster of donors includes a diverse list of over 270 people, the large majority of them in Oakland, representing more than twice as many people as gave to all of the candidates GO didn’t endorse combined. The large majority — 88 percent — have given $250 or less, while a few have given quite large amounts, even above $40,000. We’re grateful that Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and national philanthropist who has supported efforts to improve equity in public health, education, the environment, and gun violence reduction, recently made a gift to support our campaign.
We’re not naïve to the fact that campaign funding issues are complex even for some who support us. We hope this information helps you understand why and how we invest in school board elections. Ultimately, this election is about the future of our schools and the candidates running, We believe our network of parents, educators, and community members has identified the best candidates for the job, which is why we are all so invested in engaging voters. Please give me a call or send me an email if you have any thoughts and/or questions.