GO Public Schools Oakland Advocates is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit social welfare organization that informs, advocates, and cultivates leadership within the Oakland community so that all our students have the opportunity to attend quality public schools.
GO is bold and unafraid to support a movement that has the most marginalized kids and families as our only focus. By bringing people together who are typically left out of decision-making, the GO community creates real, positive change for students and families.
The families, educators, and community leaders of GO believe that every child has a right to a quality education and everyone has a responsibility to help provide it. At a time when the overwhelming majority of family-wage jobs require post-secondary education, less than three-quarters of Oakland’s students graduate from high school. Our schools are only preparing 20% of Black and Latino/a students to read on grade level compared to 80% white students. These racialized inequities have existed for decades in Oakland, and the reality of distance learning during the pandemic has only worsened these issues.
Additionally, GO Public Schools Oakland has a sister organization, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization – GO Public Schools Oakland – that connects and activates an informed community network to advance policies that ensure all Oakland students have the opportunity to attend quality public schools.
GO is proud to have spent the last decade helping lead every revenue measure for Oakland public schools, and to be in the midst of a multi-year advocacy campaign to ensure smarter spending of our resources. Our schools must be better funded and we have to spend those dollars in the ways that help kids the most. This year, that means voters must vote Yes on Proposition 15 to put our Schools and Communities First.
Based on two key events during the 2008-2009 school year, a group of families, educators, and community members began building GO Public Schools Oakland to ensure that 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 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 midyear budget cut on to school sites. Parents, teachers, and community members requested copies of the central office budgets and recommended more than $17 million of cuts to the central office that they would 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 midyear budget cuts were made centrally.
These two experiences of network success led us to create an organization that would continue to provide information and advocacy to ensure great public schools for all Oakland children.
GO Oakland has two main campaigns: 1Oakland and Budgeting for Impact. 1Oakland advocates for policies that ensure that every student has access to a high-quality school. That includes ensuring that OUSD is working strategically to expand quality and equity, ensuring that our city has a common definition of school quality, and helping ensure that families voices are heard as Oakland public schools try to execute distance learning this fall.
Our Budgeting for Impact campaign works to make sure that Oakland schools receive more money and that they spend that money smartly and transparently. We are proud to have spent the last decade helping lead every revenue measure for Oakland public schools, and to be in the midst of a multi-year advocacy campaign to ensure smarter spending of our resources. Our schools must be better funded and we have to spend those dollars in the ways that help kids the most. This year, that means voters must vote Yes on Proposition 15 to put our Schools and Communities First.
We intentionally work to build a donor network of families, educators, and community that is socio-economically, racially, culturally, and linguistically inclusive and that shares a positive, solutions- and results-oriented vision for improving Oakland public schools. Since we began working on elections in 2012, more than 600 people have given donations to this work. Most of those donations were for $10 or less. This level of support and activity was unprecedented in recent Oakland school board elections.
We welcome the contributions of individuals and organizations that share our values and vision of an Oakland where all children receive the schooling and support they need to live successful, fulfilling lives. Click here to review the January 1, 2020 – June 30, 2020 campaign finance filings of GO’s political action committee – Families and Educators for Public Education. You can find all of our filings at the City of Oakland Campaign Finance Portal.
Our sister organization GO Public Schools Oakland is a 501(c)(3) and is also funded by local and national foundations. For a more detailed list of our funders and donors, click here.
We are a coalition of families, educators, and community leaders from the hills and flatlands, East, West, and North Oakland, district and charter public schools who share a vision of an Oakland where all children receive the schooling and support they need to live successful, fulfilling lives. People with connections to more than 100 different Oakland public schools have participated in our work in the last year. More than 600 individuals have made financial contributions to support our work. Our community events regularly draw over 100 community stakeholders.
Great leaders are essential to expanding high quality public education and opportunities for Oakland students. GO endorsed school board candidates for the first time in the November 2012 elections.
School board members have an extraordinary influence on the performance of our schools and the culture of our city. Our school board oversees the Superintendent, sets instructional and school management policies, votes on school closures, approves and denies charter public schools, and makes critical financial decisions about a more than $600 million annual budget (that’s $2.4 billion of budget responsibility in a four-year term).
To that end, we believe that the community should have a clear path to informing who sits on the school board. Our endorsement process is the most community-driven in the city, bringing together hundreds of Oaklanders – parents, educators, and community leaders – who are often left out of decision-making – to decide which candidates we choose to support. This community then volunteers thousands of hours of their time to talk to their neighbors about the candidates they support.
According to OpenSecrets.org, a PAC, or Political Action Committee, is “a popular term for a political committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates”. Many other organizations in Oakland have PACs and spend money on both candidates and ballot measures, including the Oakland Education Association, Oakland Rising Action, and SEIU 1021. National organizations with PACs include the Sierra Club, ACLU, and Planned Parenthood.
Our PAC is the pathway through which our network of families, educators, and community members can come together to support candidates who we believe will best support our values as school board members. Our network chooses candidates to support through a community endorsement process, where they provide their thoughts and feedback on candidate surveys and in a live interview setting. Having a political action committee allows our network to legally campaign for those endorsed candidates as volunteers with materials like printed flyers, social media videos, or lawn signs.