2020 has brought new meaning to just about everything in our lives. I knew the definition of the word Pandemic and, yet 2020 taught us the impact of a Pandemic. Our Health, Our Wealth, Our Education, and Our Future have a new meaning. The old cliche – Our Children are Our Future – has a new ring to it as well. How are the Children in the midst of this changing world?
In Oakland Unified, we know that only 60% of the children in foster care have connected with the schools since March 13th when SIP went into effect. At one of our comprehensive high schools, there are 60 students we haven’t made contact with. At one predominantly Black elementary school, there are 50 families unaccounted for! And only 70% of our Unsheltered Youth — compared to 96% of white students — have shown up to Distance Learning.
That 70% unsheltered youth locked out of learning since this spring mimics the 70% of the homeless population in Oakland that is Black. There is a correlation. An OUSD housing policy could provide a solution.
Black students experiencing Educational Pandemic well before our Health Pandemic.
Earlier this year during a cross-governmental meeting when we were studying the housing issue in Oakland, the issue around our unsheltered homeless population in Oakland, namely our students, kept coming to the forefront. How can we build housing fast enough while also managing the immediate needs in the short term? What are the supports available and needed? We explored the data as any good policymaker does.
Inequality under the color of law
I shared the Redlining Map from just 4 decades ago and the OUSD Educational Map of underserved schools less than 2 decades ago. Yes, the maps were the same. And we can overlay them with the food deserts, dumping, and environmental injustice maps. Same Map.
We Need to Change The MAP...
God Bless OUSD and the one McKinney Vento case manager supporting homeless youth and families.
We understand the root cause. The solution is we need more housing. We need an increase in the housing stock. What I can remember from my college economic class – Supply and Demand. We have a supply problem and access to that supply for the most in need. There is great evidence of the demand for access to housing and increased supply. OUSD employees living under freeways and youth and families living in shelters, couchsurfing between family and friends living in cars are not the conditions for a safe Oakland and healthy citizenry. OUSD families and employees shouldn’t have to be in survival mode.
We have a tremendous cause in front of us that has resulted in Housing Insecurity across race and economics. OUSD has the opportunity to take action and impact the Oakland community beyond the Educational Mission. Restoring equitable access to housing for all families in Oakland improves our education system. The safety of our students and their families is vital to our educational mission.
Solutions exist partners, including you, are needed
OUSD partnerships with the City, County, and State can help make it possible. We have opportunities we can take advantage of immediately – new legislation that supports school districts utilizing surplus lands to create workforce housing. There are voter-approved bonds that can support the eradication of Homelessness in Alameda County. We must maintain our education mission but we could also flex the public trust and take bolder steps for the public good and contribute to irradiating housing insecurity.
We need everyone who values the SoBEO mission and the power of the Collective to help us lead this Campaign for Affordable and Accessible Housing. Support OUSD leadership and staff to be proactive and smart about leveraging opportunities that could have impact beyond education.
If you recognize the pandemic of homelessness as a public health issue, as an educational institution we can have an impact and contribute to the public good. We can make a meaningful investment in the creation of a Thriving Oakland. Our students and families deserve to be housed!
We are perfectly situated to interrupt at multiple levels the inequities related to the miseducation of our black students. A lack of access to quality housing, health care, food, and economic opportunity doesn’t ensure the Power Education has to Liberate our People. Let’s be BOLD and Courageous in our Advocacy for Affordable and Accessible Housing for ALL.
Between Oct 1st and Nov 11th please advocate for responsible leadership to approve Housing Policies. Encourage these leaders to support OUSD Affordable and Adequate Housing Policy
SoBEO Action Steps:
- Ask for the Affordable and Adequate Housing for ALL Policy be agendized by Oct 14th
- Ask for a fair reading and consideration of the Policy
- Ensure there is a diversity of public comments being heard
- Ask them to be Bold and Responsible for the public lands that are in their Trust.
- Ensure that there is an Equity Agenda to benefit all throughout the entire process of repurposing land.
Contact SoBEO Allies:
OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson Trammell
OUSD Chief Business Officer Lisa Grant Dawson [email protected]
OUSD Board President Jody London:
Supervisor Nate Miley
Supervisor Keith Carson