Charter schools and district schools are often pitted against one another, despite the fact, they serve basically the same families, face the same challenges, and basically have the same goals. And while there are competitive aspects, there is also real value to sharing and coordination.
Over the last couple of years OUSD and the Oakland charter sector have engaged in an ambitious attempt to better understand and coordinate between the traditional public schools and public charter schools—the Equity Pledge. The goal was to create a consistent way for parents to judge school quality, to simplify enrollment, share effective practices and other resources, as well as trying to generally coordinate better.
Despite the January 25th board meeting and update in the Superintendent’s report that looks forward to a Board approval in the next couple of months, there are real questions about where this work is going and whether the bulk of it will survive.
Some real benefits that we should not lose
As a skeptic, I have always had my doubts, but those were made material, when I saw the recent resignation of the Equity Pledge’s project director. And while progress was uneven in the last year, there was some real progress (see below).
Given the tendency for things to stagnate while we wait for the next (non-interim) superintendent. Without leadership, and someone pushing the cart, the Equity Pledge will likely stall as a larger effort, while potentially laying the fruit for future progress. And also delivering some tangible benefits to families and the knowledge base now.
Coordination makes sense, it is mostly the same kids and families and many who alternate between sectors. We should work together as much as we can to serve students and use resources efficiently.
It’s a much longer conversation. But I do hope that this work, or at least the most viable parts of it are approved in April as proposed—and that the interim superintendent and board will agree to adopt some of the low hanging fruit, even if deferring for greater study some of the trickier pieces.
Hard choices and bold leadership
These are tough times, with hard choices in OUSD. The easiest and least controversial thing to do is nothing. To defer the decisions, defer the debts, and further defer the futures of so many young people. Because those deferments gather interest. And somewhere down the line, believe me, someone is going to pay, and pay more.
In any event, here is a look at some of the Equity Pledge work and planned work from the Superintendent’s report. I believe it was all grant funded, it certainly seems worth continuing at least in parts, though politics often trumps logic.
2 thoughts on “Whither the Equity Pledge?”
Public schools and charters are in competition for the same enrollment as Pepsi and Coke are in the same market for customers.
As long as the bottom line is enrollment market share working together will always impact the bottom line of enrollment. That both publicly managed and privately managed schools are funded on the basis of enrollment and attendance they both have the primary goal of maximizing each side’s enrollment.
Pepsi and Coke are a brands in competition. And, public schools and charter schools are also brands in competition. The claim that charter schools are public schools is charter supporter propaganda that often serves to advance the interest of charter schools in strengthening their brand.
The “equity pledge” is an effort by the District to gain greater oversight of the charters OUSD Board has authorized. Resources that belong to the District’s students and Measure N and G1 parcel taxes are being used to try and advance the District’s agenda of gaining greater oversight.
The reality is that District authorized charter schools are privately managed and independent of the District once authorized. I fear more is being given up in resources trying to gain better oversight of Board’s charter schools with the equity pledge.
Meanwhile, charter schools and their growth is an existential threat to OUSD draining the already stressed budget of OUSD for today and tomorrow.
Equity pledge is a fool’s pledge for OUSD.
I am 3rd generation Oakland native. Our schools were once good and coveted. We had strong academic, performing arts and athletic programs. What happened? Black and brown kids numbers grew , resources were aimed to serve them(rightfully so) and the state never adjusted the funds for public schools….well yes, these are reasons, but also the leadership in this city has deteriorated to sludge levels.
I’m sorry, I watched a recent board meeting and all I heard was talk about diversity, equity, some restore justice program…on and on about social therapeutic programming but nothing about finances and performance data!! Even the attorneys on the board , who touted being small business owners, are so ill prepared for the task at hand its no wonder that a huge whole was blown in their budget. Now without a Superintendent ( who I thought was below par due to a lack of experience) this board is going to lead Oakland out of a looming crisis. No way
They are social activists who are accustomed to government programs and bailouts but this time, we forget that the district still owes a huge amount to the state.
No more bailouts, time for the state again!! So, those with kids better push for more charter schools who are separate from the district because this will not end pretty.