The Business of OUSD is Children; An Open Letter on Why the Board Needs to Meet Tonight—Picket Line or Not

(Director Hinton-Hodge responds here to a constituent’s request that she not cross the picket line or participate in the board meeting tonight.)

Peace. (name omitted)

With all due respect to your activism and public attention.

We have business of the District to do and that business is the children’s and families’ business, and it can’t wait.  When you interfere with the business of the District, you are disrupting lives.

Tonight we are voting on school safety plans, increasing opportunity for black and brown parents, student director recommendations on restorative justice, Asian Pacific Islander Student Achievement (APISA), and foster care managers, honoring some of our own, and approving essential vendor contracts.  This is the people’s business, and it matters.

People are relying on us.  I know one person, and I know you hate contractors and consultants, even when Principals and SSC hire them… I digress.

One of those contractors has been providing a service to kids and hasn’t had paperwork finalized until now and is just getting paid.  He has a one year old and a wife. His wife’s niece from East Africa needs eye surgery. He is responsible and has served our kids. His wife’s uncle died, their family must buy a cow! These are the people behind the dollars you count and say we are wasting.

I have to approve contracts for people because they have done the work for our kids and many of them are relying on us to pay them for their livelihood.

We also have an agenda full of safety plans for schools outside of compliance with the state, these are important for folks who do the work everyday on campuses that you demonstrate on behalf of.  How does delaying school safety plans help school staff or students?

There is the final read of Opportunity Ticket. Designed by REACH families and State of Black Education in Oakland and supported by the enrollment office. This is one tactic being used to dismantle inequities in this District. We must vote to support greater access for black and brown children that might be displaced, who for once might be seen, and have access to a higher quality school. This is the work of community you are stifling.

Please don’t!

The black and brown kids y’all care so much about! It’s the tag line for all your demands and criticism… for the black and brown kids. An afterthought a tool that props up your ideology. Well our kids are not props or an afterthought in this struggle. They are the reason for The Opportunity Ticket. They are why I serve. Any interference with the business of OUSD tonight is bad for the kids y’all say you are saving. Please get out the way.

And lastly. The student directors, another group you prop up as your mission, have worked their butts off this past week and half to get support to restore RJ APISA and Foster care Managers. They have been doing the work of advocacy. They have negotiated with grace and honor. They’ve reached out to the Mayor the County and community based organizations to fight for what serves them and thousands of kids. Their leadership has been relentless they have demands also. They are holding folks accountable. They want to see a vote that will save vital services. Please Get out of the way of these leaders.

This Strike has been absolutely necessary. The message about the worth of teachers must be broadcast. I can’t agree with thousands of black and brown kids barely served in the District having to miss so many days of school. But we are willing to sacrifice them it seems. We need to get back to the schools kids need to move forward.

Crippling the District brings you pride and national recognition but after this strike locally we will – some of us- will be making demands that our children are centered and get all they deserve. We will be cleaning up. Unintentional consequences will be heavy. Our children have become collateral damage. After this, if adult issues are handled then let’s get on with business of educating kids.

Tonight I wanted to honor Frank Robinson and Tonie Irving alumni and dedicated staff of OUSD – we give Thanks for Ancestors. Please. Do this work with integrity and respect for the shoulders of great people we stand one. We are here only because of them.

Lastly I know the tactic in your movement and leadership is to shame and create group think about any issue or any target. You have been highly successful. I would ask that you not take out of context anything I’ve written. Put it on social media and try to Shame folks.

I need to go to work tonight. I was elected for this. It might be hard to pull back. But know you’re not hurting 7 board members and some other adults. There are students doing the work watching us. And parents, that frankly don’t care so much about the politics but their kids’ education.

Be Mindful of the message tonight. Last night you told City Council and the Public OUSD hadn’t moved and wasn’t negotiating. That is so far from the truth. There will be so much to repair from the harm that is done. I hope that healing is also a part of your Justice movement.

I’m asking my minister and others to come with us. There are many righteous people of Oakland that want to see the District restored and healthy working for families and students.

Do the Right Thing. Use your leadership and voice to create a resolution.

I’m praying for you.

Peace Be Unto you (name omitted)!

And please excuse all the typos and grammar bloopers. You got me before I even prayed this morning!


Jumoke Hinton Hodge Director and Citizen of Oakland

Racial Equity Warrior.





What do you think?

2 thoughts on “The Business of OUSD is Children; An Open Letter on Why the Board Needs to Meet Tonight—Picket Line or Not

  1. 10:30 a.m. this morning (3/4/2019( the Oakland School Board is holding their Special Board meeting while teachers are in school. And, while teachers and most of the community are at work the Oakland School Board is voting regarding a bunch of important agenda items.

    One of the Board’s agenda items is a vote of whether or not to participate in AB 1840 Department of Education grant program whose critics oppose voting for the program because as a condition for participation in the program defined by recently passed AB 1840, critics read the law as the Board voting away its authority over its decision to close schools, and sell/lease District property, to the County/State officials. The law gives County/State officials this authority for a “minimum” of three years according to AB 1840.

    Therefore the attempt to stop the meeting of the Board is not just about the cuts to the District’s budget, cuts dictated by AB 1840 as requirement to participate in the Department of Education grant program.

    The Oakland Teacher Strike and settlement has overshadowed the issue of the Oakland School Board about to take a voting giving away its authority over its budget for a minimum of three years under the dictates of AB 1840.

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