Another Failed Battle in Oakland’s Charter School Wars- The Accidental Renewal of OCA

The OUSD Board (or at least parts of it) reached a new low for dysfunction last week.  They inadvertently approved a charter school renewal that they thought they had blocked.  You heard that right, even as the anti-charter members of the crowd cheered and the anti-charter members of the board patted themselves on the back, they actually accomplished the exact opposite of what they wanted.   And while they are playing to the partisans in the crowd, they are missing the casualties from their actions, and undermining their own goals.  Let me explain.

The East bay Express confirmed today, what I wrote last week, and the headline pretty much says it all,

“In Reversal, OUSD Officials Say Oakland Charter School’s Renewal Petition Was Approved”
From the article,

according to OUSD officials.

“The confusion came after it became clear that the vote did not count because, by statute, the Board of Directors must pass any motion with four yes votes, not three,” explained OUSD spokesman John Sasaki. “But this did not mean that OCA’s renewal was denied because there was no motion to deny, only a motion to approve.”

In other words, the vote was virtually the same as the board taking no action on the proposal to renew OCA’s charter.

And state law says that if a district takes no action within 60 days of a submission of a renewal petition to approve or deny a charter school’s right to continue operating, then it’s automatically approved.

The Cost of Incompetence

You can’t make this ish up, and while the sheer incompetence is almost laughable, it is not.  These are serious issues, that deserve more serious and considered treatment, and when the public sees board members who don’t even know the effects of their votes, it’s hard to have confidence going forward.

There is also a relational cost.  Charter schools are here, they aren’t going anywhere, and the school in question is very high performing and takes in very low scoring high needs students.  There was no argument that focused on students and families for the school being closed.

One community member called the original decision “disgraceful.”  Board members intended to violate the charter law and also deny a good school, with no better alternatives for the families.

Let’s Work Together….

And now OUSD is going to want the school to collaborate, to join in on the District’s special education system, to continue to share data, so that families can compare all public schools, and as we heard at the board meeting we should work to strategize around school placements, so that charters go where there are real needs.

These are real issues that we should be addressing together.

How do you expect those “collaborative” conversation to go?  Probably will start and end with two words that rhyme with “yuck foo.”

This is a repeated cycle for OUSD.  They symbolically reject a charter, in violation of the law, and it later is approved and opens, with a reduced stomach for dealing with the district and it’s BS.

Some in the crowd applaud, but the end result is the same, and the relationship is worse.  Meanwhile, the sectors are less likely to work together—which is bad for families.

Most families are just hustling for the best school for their child and are not caught up in the professional politics of the governance models.  They want a good school where they are treated fairly.

Too bad some members of the board can’t see that.

We deserve better.



What do you think?

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