The Pitiful Options for Black Families in Oakland and What We Can Do

If you are a Black child in Oakland you have a snowball’s chance in hell of attending a high performing school that is making progress.  A 1% chance according to the latest data from Oakland Achieves when it comes to math.  I am not joking.  And even worse about 2/3rds of our children are in schools that are below the state average and losing ground in reading and math.  Reading and math.  These are our public schools– district and charter.

Oakland already has massive achievement gaps, and this data would seem to say they are getting bigger. Here are the graphs.

Breaking the Chains Between Zip Code and Destiny

Neighborhood schools and preferences create and reinforce these disparities.  And we can’t forget that our neighborhoods were created by policies designed to segregate us and relegate some citizens to the industrial and man-made hazards of ghettos.    Hazards that we still endure, which include low performing schools.

Just look at the maps, redlining, environmental stress, asthma rates, chronic absence rates, and school performance all line up nearly perfectly with the original redlining map.  Your destiny should not be determined by where you are born—but in Oakland they largely are.




But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Opportunity Ticket as an Answer

We have an education system that heaps advantage on the advantaged and pulls the rug out from the underserved.  The key mechanism is assigning school based on neighborhood.  Those who can afford the best neighborhoods get the highest performing and generally best resourced schools, while those most disadvantaged families are all clustered together in the lowest performing schools, with the least resources compared to the needs.

If you have an equity lens, something is seriously fucked up about that.

Families in Oakland have an answer.  We need to break the chain between neighborhoods and schools and prioritize the families with the greatest needs at any school.  The “opportunity ticket” would give first preference to families at closing schools to attend any school in the district.  Opening the doors to educational opportunities that were largely absent in the Flatlands.

The dismal opportunities for Black students exist across charters and the district, so both public school sectors need to change their policies, and change these numbers.  We don’t have to carry the injustices of the past forward.  We can break these chains, please join us 12/12/18 at the OUSD Board meeting and be an ally for equity.


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