A Look Back on Our Impact in 2019, Top Posts, Student Stories, and Policy Changes

Appreciate everyone who has made the blog a success, not just in telling our stories, and adding light to the fiery arguments in Oakland, but for the actual policy changes we have made together for Oakland children.  I wanted to look back, share some of the top posts, and outcomes, and hope that folks are gearing up for more in 2020.

Last year we had over 70,000 blog reads on the Great School Voices site and countless more on other platforms.  On Facebook, we reached over 421,000 readers, cementing our place as Oakland’s top education blog.  And beyond readers, we got action.  OUSD changed several policies based on our work and prioritizing the voices of the underserved—and we are working on more, as well as bringing charters further into the equity fold.

The Most Read Blogs

Our top blog questioned, What Is So Special About Special Education?  And proposed fundamental reforms to how we treat children who learn differently.  This year, submissions by readers made up many of our top blogs for the first time.

Director Hinton-Hodge addressed the need to continue to have board meetings even amidst the uproars in The Business of OUSD is Children; An Open Letter on Why the Board Needs to Meet Tonight—Picket Line or Not. I interviewed Joe Feldman on his book, The Way We Grade Students is Biased and Unsound: A Conversation on “Grading For Equity”.  Our State of Black Education in Oakland work looking at displacement and the solutions also made the list The End of Black Oakland? The Latest Research on Housing and Displacement and Why it Matters.  A powerful narrative from a trans student rounded out the list, My PE Experience as a Trans Student; Swim Class, Changing Rooms and Sometimes Ignorant Adults.   Please check these out.

Student Narratives

Working with Energy Convertors and other partners we increasingly lifted up student voices this year.  Trylon Love had explicit advice for educators in Why Students Are Skipping YOUR Class: Improving Teacher Practice from a Student’s Perspective, Jovani, who was taken from us too soon, shared some of his hopes and fears Beautiful Places in Mexico; Jovani’s Final Blog, Haifa was asked to choose between her faith and her school, and while she transferred out of Tech, her story changed OUSD policy Haifa’s Story, How it Changed Oakland Tech, and Hopefully Other Schools: The Critical Role of Youth Voice in Equity.

From Social Media to Social Change

The Blog has always been a vehicle to move policy and motivate people, and we were successful in both.  There were smaller victories like Haifa’s and the inclusion of a religious exemption for gym class, and larger ones, like the passage of the Opportunity Ticket and its faithful implementation, which rewrote OUSD’s enrollment rules to support the most underserved families, and we will be continuing work on issues of displacement, the hiring and retention of diverse educators, ending the A-G sham that graduates so many Black and Brown students who aren’t able to apply to state schools, as well as making sure that students are being taught to read.  And look out for our upcoming State of Yemeni Education work and the policy changes that our community engagement work surfaced with that community.

Thanks to all of you who have been a part of this, none of it would be possible without you all.  Please join us in pushing harder and faster for the changes that our children need in the upcoming year.

They need you.


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