Despite tying themselves in knots and nearly fornicating their own orifices, OUSD finally approved a set of enrollment changes that will actually help families in closing schools. For years the State of Black Education in Oakland and The Oakland REACH have been fighting for fairer enrollment rules, particularly for our most underserved families. The first step was getting the Opportunity Ticket approved, which gives families at closing schools first choices at any school in the district.
Historically, when Oakland closes schools they are in the Flatlands and tend to house some of the most underserved students. The district saves money and the families pay the cost. The OT was a way to help balance the scales.
The Board thankfully embraced all public school children in the OT, charter and district. They are all our children and they all suffer when their school closes, and we should care about them all. We have a lot bigger enrollment fish to fry in Oakland, but this is a good start from an equity perspective.
Now its time for charters to step up and do the same in their enrollment policies.
A Charter School Opportunity Ticket
Many of Oakland’s highest performing Flatlands schools are charter public schools. And in the same way that some children are locked out of district schools by neighborhood attendance zones, these schools tend to have very few spots once the sibling and other enrollment preferences are put in play. Same problem, different sector. Our most underserved families don’t have access to top quality schools.
The charters can change this by amending their enrollment policies and inserting their own Opportunity Tickets, and they should. Sometimes rightly and sometimes wrongly, charters have been attacked around diversity and serving their fair share of more challenged students. This is a way to help balance those scales. And most importantly, it is a direct way that the charter sector can serve the families who are paying the cost for school closures. And they should, I hope they will.
A Reason Why Charters Won’t do an OT
The OUSD is Board is wacky. That’s the reason. On one hand they will say, sometimes correctly that “charters need to accept more high needs students.” But when charters come before them to say, “We want to accept more high needs students” who knows what they will say. And any time you have to stand before the hatred, you are likely to suffer some burns, deserved or not.
Case and point—the Board wanted to better supervise charters. So they used their authority to appoint board members to some charters that had past challenges. The Staff vetted a series of candidates, found some good ones and presented them. When it came in front of the board they went wacky—why are we supporting charters? Why are we putting these skill sets into schools the compete with us?
Wacky! You all did this for oversight, maybe you forgot the original decision between the meetings. This was seen as potentially punitive by the schools and was designed to give OUSD oversight—now you all are arguing about why you are helping charters
And whack, so if the Board can’t even remember or support its own efforts at charter oversight. Could it handle charters bringing forward an OT?
I sure hope we get to find out.