Board Watch: May 8, 2019

Three big things on the agenda for this week’s Oakland School Board are:

  1. A community approach to school closures and mergers – A new committee works on adding community engagement into the process.
  2. Long-term leases in pursuit of long term stability for all Oakland students – OUSD’s next draft of criteria for public charter school long term leases. 
  3. Teachers helping teachers – A look at peer coaching in OUSD.​

For more than just three big things, click here for the full agenda.

1st BIG THING: A community approach to school closures and mergers (item #19-1005)

In March, the school board passed a resolution recommending that the Superintendent create an Ad Hoc committee to review the Blueprint for Quality Schools criteria and process. The Blueprint process started last year and is focused on reconfiguring OUSD schools to increase overall quality by expanding, merging, or closing existing schools. There is an increased focus on improved engagement with school communities when making decisions for the Blueprint. The Ad Hoc Committee has met twice so far and will bring recommendations to the board before June 30th.

GO’s Perspective

OUSD must expand access to quality schools in Oakland as soon as possible. The success of the Blueprint is essential to OUSD’s success; the formation of this committee is an important step to ensure that there is a thoughtful approach to the work. To do this well, the district must develop a shared definition of quality across all Oakland schools as they make decisions about expanding, merging and closing schools.

Learn more about GO’s perspective on how we can learn from the past by prioritizing the creation of a common measure of quality in Oakland.

2nd BIG THING: OUSD Exploring long-term leases with public charter schools (item #18-2570)

OUSD Board Policy is explicit that the school board is responsible for all Oakland public school students – including district schools and charter schools. The Superintendent’s strategic Citywide Plan is considering long-term leases for charters that provide high-quality options for Oakland children. A set of criteria will be used to measure if charter schools meet the requirements to be considered for long-term leases. You can find the criteria rubric on page 6 of this document.

GO’s Perspective

The Citywide Plan for public schools across Oakland requires a partnership between district-run and public charter schools. The long-term lease criteria establishes transparent student-centered metrics for evaluating a charter school’s quality and commitment to all Oakland students. The criteria show clear alignment with the Citywide Plan by including equally-weighted metrics aligned to the values of quality, equity, and sustainability. This work aligns with GO’s belief that Oakland students deserve an intentional city-wide education system, where charter and district leaders work together to best serve all students. Long-term leases will also allow OUSD to take full advantage of state facilities programs such as Prop 51, which could result in an additional $175 million investment, and is one of 1Oakland’s recommendations for the Citywide Plan.

3rd BIG THING: Teachers helping Teachers (item# 19-0889)

OUSD teachers can receive peer coaching through the district’s PAR program (Peer Assistance and Review). Coaching can be accessed by beginning teachers, more experienced teachers that volunteer for the support, or when a Principal’s evaluation indicates a teacher’s performance is unsatisfactory. The presentation highlights some of the positive feedback the program has received in supporting teachers.

Slide 14 2018-2019 Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) – Teacher To Teacher

GO’s Perspective

Providing access to quality coaching is an important part of supporting both new and veteran teachers. GO’s 2016 Teacher Policy Fellows studied teacher retention and wrote a policy brief focused on improving new teacher supports in Oakland. At GO, we know that Oakland teachers are striving each day to provide the best support for their students and it is critical that education leaders across our city invest that same effort into teacher support and retention.

Thanks for reading and please let me know how I can keep improving GO’s Board Watch to make it a must-read for you every two weeks.

P.S. Prop 13 reform will be a promising ballot initiative in 2020 – if passed by CA voters, it would close a corporate tax loophole that could bring in $45-$50 million in education funding to Oakland. Join us on May 16 to learn more! RSVP here!

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