BOARD WATCH: Distance Learning Updates, Family Survey, and Charter Renewals

For more, click here for the full agenda.

Note: You can watch the Zoom meeting by clicking on this link at 5:30pm, by calling (669) 900-9128, then entering the Webinar ID 818 3919 3701, then pressing “#”. The board recently made some changes to make it easier for the community to weigh in on matters before the Board. Some changes include taking public comments at the beginning of the meeting, taking public comments separately for each public hearing, and the ability to consolidate public comment for Unfinished and New Business items. You can find the memo describing the changes here.

Item #20-2052

Today’s Superintendent report includes updates on the learning hubs, family survey, and distance learning:

  • Learning Hub: They will be piloting hubs in collaboration with the City of Oakland to provide full-day, in-person academic and enrichment support programs at three initial City Park and Rec sites. They are also planning pods, where the District is partnering with community organizations to provide homework and enrichment programs. In addition, they are planning to offer support pods, in-home service, and assessment to support students with special needs.
  • Family Survey: This community-wide survey is designed to collect feedback from families on 1) interest in returning to in-person instruction 2) distance learning this fall, and 3) family concerns and preferences, which will help district staff improve their planning. The survey will close on  November 12th.
  • Distance Learning Updates: The District continues to share enrollment and attendance updates (see slides 15-17). They are also providing an update on technology access to Oakland students. They’ve been prioritizing tech access for students who don’t have a device yet and have been using their phones, Unhoused Students, and Foster Youth. In addition, the district will be piloting meal deliveries to families homes.

This week’s Superintendent’s report shares several important updates that our community has been calling for: centering of family voices, increasing supports to the students most impacted by the COVID closures, and more data transparency on attendance and tech access during distance learning. 

At the beginning of the pandemic GO partnered with OUSD’s Office of Equity to design and implement our SchoolAfterCOVID survey to ensure that families’ experiences were at the center of the District’s decision making process. We are glad to see that the district has continued with these efforts to collect family feedback in an ongoing way. We call on the district to transparently share the raw data responses to this survey as well as the demographics of respondents to ensure that the most marginalized families are included in survey outreach.  

Item #20-2116 

Today Alternatives in Action High School will get the chance to submit requests for new charter petitions, major amendments, material revisions, renewals, and conversions. Achieve Academy, Lighthouse Community Charter School, Lodestar: A Lighthouse Community Public School, AIMS College Prep Middle and High School  had the opportunity to do so at the last board meeting. The first public hearing for the first several schools took place on October 21 and will be voted on by November 18. The next public hearing for other schools will be next Wednesday on November 4. 

As the Board makes charter renewal decisions it’s critical that they keep both quality and equity at the center of their process. The district must continue their work from last year to create a common quality framework to fairly measure how both district and charter schools are impacting student learning and use this measure to drive high-stakes decisions. It should draw from diverse sets of data to appropriately assess school quality. We anticipate these measures will change with the cancelation of state tests last year due to the pandemic. As always, we demand transparency around the tools and measures that will be used.  

We also call for greater transparency from the district about implications of the new state law governing charter schools, AB1505. Passed last year, this new law revised the Charter Schools Act of 1992 that has key changes to the following four areas: (1) charter approval process, (2) charter renewal process, (3) charter appeals process, and (4) teacher credentialing and went into effect on July 1st, 2020.  

In last week’s hearing we were very concerned to find out that District staff were not prepared to publicly explain how they plan to carry out this new law that will determine whether charter schools are granted renewal or not, and for how long. When pressed by board members, a District staff member from the Office of Charter Schools stated “I don’t have something prepared about our implementation about 1505 tonight but we can certainly prepare.” Under the new law, charter schools will be assigned to different performance-based tiers and the district will be required to change their support and oversight accordingly. To learn midway through the charter renewal process that the district does not have a plan in place for implementing this new law is unfair to families and leaves them in the lurch. These school communities deserve to know how their schools will be evaluated and how the district’s decisions will be made based on this new law. 

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