How OUSD Hijacked, Neutered, and Destroyed the Opportunity Ticket and Betrayed Oakland Families, Pt. 1

I helped write, partnered in the passage, and sat on the working group that developed the final Opportunity Ticket (OT) language. Now I am against the watered-down piece of trash that OUSD will present.  It is a betrayal of the hundreds of families that fought for the policy, the non-profits that wrote it, and the families now and in the future, that the policy was supposed to help.  I will explain.

It really is amazing to see a parent revolution get turned into a pile of piss.  But OUSD and the OUSD board never cease to amaze in their dysfunction.  They have neutered the policy, stripped it of its very essence, and now will pass who knows what, and claim victory for parents.  A policy none of the parents who started this ever saw and probably wouldn’t agree to. 

If politics is where sausage is made, OUSD’s policy is more like what sausage turns into after digestion and ejection through the ass.

But let me start at the start.  Black and Brown families are the ones who almost always are the losers in school closures.  So, the district saves some money, and a set of families pay the price.  The OT was a way to say to those families most affected, that we will take care of you.  We will give you your choice of schools, even if they are not in your neighborhood.

This was a straight equity argument, and it was tied to another argument, that the kids at Mack know all too well.  That historically we had redlining policies that allocated opportunities to some and took them from others.  From home ownership, to quality of services (including schools) and environmental racism.  The geography of Oakland is etched with inequality.  And maybe some kids want to get away from the dozens of HAZMAT sites.

And while formal redlining is over, the way school attendance zones are set look a helluva lot like those old redlining maps, as do the school quality assessments.  So, the OT was also a way to break the historical redlines and allow families to get out of zoned schools, and into schools of neighborhoods they could not afford to live in.  To have the opportunity to go to any school.

It also was about all public school children—district or charter.  That we cared about families and we wanted to serve the most affected families.  It wasn’t about politics, or forcing them into some school the district wanted them to go to, for its own reasons.  It was about families and children and helping the most dislocated.

Sounds simple right.  Guffaw

Right now, I have no idea what the board is going to vote on Wednesday.  Every time some board member raises a fuss, the staff scurry back to accommodate them.  No parents are ever asked, none of the drafters are asked, its just a matter of rewriting the policy to accommodate everyone pet peeves or pissing contest.  And now we have a pile of piss.

Normally I would wait to see whatever trash would emerge from staff, but I can’t give OUSD the benefit of the doubt any more.  I have several of these posts coming but let me just dig in one of the problems here.

When Charter Hate Screws District Kids—And Everyone

As it stands, the Board has already approved the OT for district kids, now and in the future.  And put them ahead of neighborhood kids in preferences—that’s good—families will have real choices.  But last meeting when they discussed charter students, they mentioned moving the overall preference behind neighborhood students, which nobody had ever considered (because it doesn’t help and would feed segregation rather than potentially reduce it).  So the disdain for charter kids could be used as way to totally devalue the opportunity ticket for district kids.  If your hatred runs that deep just forget it, seriously.  I won’t fight for charter kids’ inclusion if these idiots are going to sacrifice district kids as a result, and everyone gets screwed.

Most of us don’t see a charter kid or a district kid, we see a kid whose school closed, who is dislocated, who we should help.  And let’s be real this applies to like 9 charter kids this year.  So all this fuss, reopening this whole debate potentially screwing over district kids, its for like 9 charter kids who would get an OT.  Meanwhile COVID, bankruptcy, academic failure, mismanagement, but yeah lets focus on micromanaging policy that we have thought very little about.  Yeah, great.

If the preference is below neighborhood, what good is it?  How does that address the equity concerns and allow families to escape redlined neighborhoods?  It doesn’t it, reifies those lines.  So its an OT with very little opportunity beyond what you already have.

This is a betrayal of the families that the Board says they support, a betrayal of the spirit of the OT, and a betrayal of the students at closing schools specifically, who will pay the costs for the district’s historic and ongoing mismanagement but get scant gains. 

They also say the OT will only last for one year, so it will “sunset.”  So in the ultimate irony and punch in my gut—the Kaiser families are the only ones who are guaranteed an OT.  Again trash.  So you are going to close amess of schools but take away the only relief valve that families have after a year?

So even though I wrote the damn OT, I don’t recognize it, and am against it in its current form. And in the ultimate F U to equity advocates, the only families that are guaranteed a real OT are the Kaiser parents…All those Flatlands families who fought for this and the only ones who get it are in the Hills.

And though I do believe that the district needs to close schools, I cant support them doing so, and will fight against it, if they screw over our families in the process, as they always have and seem like they will continue to.

You bring OUSD a parent revolution, and you leave with shit sandwich soaking in the piss of individual board members.  And they ask you to eat it and thank them.

What do you think?

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