Our Babies Can’t Read, Will OUSD Take Action to Change That, and How You Can Help

If you are born, Black, Brown, Pacific Islander, Yemeni, or in another underserved group in Oakland, chances are you will never learn to read in Oakland Unified.  For Black kids its less than 1 in 5, around 1 in 4 for Brown kids and the numbers are no better for our other babies.  There is nothing wrong with the children or families, there is something wrong with the system that consistently delivers disparities, while touting a district “where every student thrives.”

These are the numbers from EdSource

There is definitely something wrong with the way we are teaching reading, or not teaching it.  Even more important, these are things we can change.  Which is where we need you.  A broad coalition of community including our State of Black Education in Oakland, joined the NAACP’s administrative complaint to make structural changes.  You can see the list partial below, and we need support in pushing OUSD on this issue.

 The Latino Education Network

  The Ikuna Group

  State of Black Education – Oakland

  Decoding Dyslexia – California

  Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children

  Oakland Literacy Coalition

  Equity Allies for OUSD

For more background please take a look at the recent town hall, you can also see interviews, the petition and some amazing literacy information here.

And we are asking that OUSD take a set of specific, research driven actions to support literacy for all students.

The 8 actions (“relief requested”) we are petitioning for are:

  • district -wide TK-2 literacy curriculum based in the science that has significant evidence of contributing to students’ academic success and is manageable for educators to fully implement within the bounds of their contracted hours.
  • A designated role dedicated to student literacy within the OUSD leadership.
  • More resources to support students reading below grade level.
  • Ongoing access to professional development for educators on teaching reading, classroom management, dyslexia identification and support (NOT just how to implement a specific curriculum).
  • Dyslexia screening for all students, K-2.
  • Better tracking of intervention supports and the resulting student outcomes
  • Ensuring guidelines for the district’s human resources department to encourage the flow of educators into high-needs schools who have been trained on how to teach children to read using evidence-based reading methodologies.
  • Ensuring that the chosen curriculum currently reflects the diversity of Oakland’s students or commits to adapting its content, in collaboration with local partners, with time-bound goals and future financial costs baked into any initial agreement

ACTION ITEM: Time is of the essence. We believe the OUSD curriculum adoption committee will be making their final decision sometime in the next week or two. For those of you who did not send a letter of support for the petition to the Board president, it would still be very helpful to do so. (And for those of you who did, thank you!)

INSTRUCTIONS: How you can lend the weight of your support to the petition? You have the opportunity to submit a letter to the Board of Ed. These letters (like Amicus Briefs) should be addressed to Board president Shanthi Gonzales at [email protected] and can be statements expressing how you see these issues affecting your community, how your goals as a stakeholder/actor in the ecosystem would be buttressed by the “relief” requested in the petition, why you/your org/your institution is behind the petition. The letters can be long or brief but will lend gravitas to our mutual efforts in service of children. 

Please join us in pushing for an Oakland where every student can read, until we are there, a slogan of a district “where every student thrives” is a fraud, and not worth the air used in uttering it.

What do you think?

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