ELECTION 2022: Mayoral Candidate Treva Reid Answers to Students in her Interview with Great School Voices

Treva Reid is an overcomer, a resilient single mother and community builder. As a senior aide to Assemblymember (now State Senator) Nancy Skinner, Treva advocated for affordable housing policies, gun violence prevention, job training programs, legislation for incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated individuals, and other critical efforts for Oakland residents. Since she was elected to the Oakland City Council in late 2020, Treva has held to her promise to tirelessly work to move East Oakland forward, championing the priorities of her community. A lifelong Democrat, Treva served as an Associate for California Assembly District 18 on the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, is an Emerge California Alumna, an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and state policy advisor for Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA). She is also a ministry leader at Shiloh Church in Oakland and engaged in numerous community partnerships. Treva works tirelessly to address homelessness, end gun violence, increase public safety all across Oakland, ensure housing stability, grow small businesses, advance racial equity, and create economic opportunity for all Oaklanders to recover and thrive.

Great School Voices sat down with Reid to ask her some questions on behalf of Oakland’s students.

ED REFORM PLANS: The state of public education in Oakland has been in crisis for generations, and with the pandemic, it has only gotten worse, with estimates being that half of high school students haven’t returned.  What will you try differently to improve the outcomes for us students, and how will you measure your success?

I am the Chair of Education Partnerships, a committee of City of Oakland Councilmembers and OUSD Board Members. I work to really deliver equitable paths to academic enrichment and the resources needed to overcome the equity gaps that our students are facing. As a child, I grew up with a number of the issues that our students are facing such as housing insecurity, changing multiple schools, and really needing a village of support to provide that level of stability. We’ve got to make sure that the trajectory for our students is certainly decided early on prior to elementary school. I’ve made strong investments into securing early childhood and Head Start education and making sure that we build on access to technology, stable housing and nutritious food. I’ve also worked to get equitable resources and investments in all schools for our students to thrive and our parents and guardians to have the empowered voice and the support that they need to partner with our school community, to partner with their students, to understand what A through G requirements are and how those requirements are crucial for the path that our students may want to take as they move beyond high school. 

I supported Oakland Undivided, that delivered 29,000 plus computers and hotspots, making sure that we continue to build on every path that we can to close the digital divide, ensuring that low income students and families have access to technology, that we increase educational opportunities for transitional age youth who have become unhoused or lack the resources to succeed and that we invest in youth development and paid workforce training apprenticeship programs are all things that continue to be important to me. There’s a program at Castlemont that I was able to secure $150,000 through a private partner to invest with our building trades on apprenticeship programs for our students to have internships and stipended career pathways that may not all be college career pathways but can give them an opportunity for six figure salary as they move beyond high school. 

In collaborating with our school board, collaborating with our community college system, working with our business community, our labor community, our community-based organizations, I believe it should be all hands on deck with how we invest with a strategy of love to support where those students have need and create more virtual hubs to help families thrive. As a parent, I needed help. I had my daughter when I was in college. We’ve got to work with parents, students and the community to design and build solutions that increase access and accessibility, that provides an infrastructure to help the most impacted families to be able to tap into every resource. I’ve got to make sure that as the Mayor,  I’m managing those critical needs. We’ve got to make sure that we put out what our plan is. What our strategy is. How we’re going to progress on those goals. How we’re going to track and monitor and make public what those goals and metrics are. How we are accomplishing them with our own report card from the Mayor’s Office on these initiatives and who has the role and responsibility to partner with us to deliver on those outcomes for our students. 

I think I would build on some of the areas of success, but I think we have to make deeper investments. One of those areas that we know that we need more of, for example, was that our team was on a call today with Senator Feinstein’s office. We met with Congresswoman Barbara Lee. We’ve met with Senator Padilla. And the issues of school safety and student safety is important. As mayor, I’m committed to making sure that we work to double that investment in our school safety initiatives, making sure that we’ve got restorative justice partners in the school, violence interrupters, and a deeper education, outreach and awareness campaign for violence prevention and particularly for gender-based violence prevention. There are young ladies that I’ve talked to as our office has held two youth summits already and we’ve got a youth summit that’s youth-led in November. 

We hear from some of our youth that they’re not even aware of some of the opportunities and are in need for safe places at school. As someone who experienced intimate domestic partner abuse, as someone who experienced child sexual abuse at an early age, I want to make sure that as we make deeper investments in public school safety, we are creating safe places for our students to have mental health care with mental health clinicians, violence interrupters and peer to peer paid programs like we’ve done with Youth Alive where I’ve served on their advocacy committee.  I want to make sure we even invest in our youth who can be a part of that Mitigation and Violence Disruption Team because they’re helping us to engage more deeply. But I want to make sure that we get deepen our investment in internships, mentorships and transportation paths for our kids to get home safely. 

I invested in Castlemont and McClymonds and their after school programs where, through the city’s budget, I secured a significant amount of money. I got another corporate partner to match those funds for us to ensure that for after school programs in some of these areas that are highly impacted by violence,  our students can have a youth-serving free mobile app ride service to get home. That’s covered for this school year, and I want to build on that.

And one more thing! One of the things that I advocated for in the budget was that a number of our youth, outside of them wanting us to create internships and programs that are more aligned with their technology interests than some of the traditional job paths, it’s also making sure that they have activities that are paid for. One of the things that I called on in the budget was just as a single mom, myself and working families also need support is for us to look at the city, how families qualify for free programs and free activities. Parents don’t have a lot of money for paid programs for summer or during the year. I want to make sure that we change our application criteria process through the city that does not only require you to be low income or receiving government assistance. You can be a hardworking parent, a single parent, or have multiple parents in the home and still need some assistance to supplement the cost of sports activities. 

STEM programs and STEAM programs are initiatives that we want our students to get engaged in. Couple that with investing in free summer meal programs much like when I grew up, I had a great center to go to over the summer that provided me three meals a day and some education enrichment and athletic activities. And I want to make sure that we invest in that.

And along with this last thing in the budget, I secured money for Feather River Camp. It’s important for the families that we’re talking to know that, because Feather River Camp is a city owned camp, so our students can have free access. Families can have free access to this camp that’s a few hours away and that we’re looking to deepen those relationships into Oakland, particularly in our Black and brown communities, where they don’t even know that the city of Oakland has a camp that they can get away to. We can use this for healing circles. We can use it as a safe place to learn life sciences. To get engaged with nature. To create. To innovate out into this open beautiful space away from a lot of what they’re experiencing and enduring in their everyday class setting.  We put more money in there for families and students to be able to get away to this place and working to make sure that transportation is not a barrier for families who want to access that level of support and partnership. 

SCHOOL CLOSURES: What is your stance on school closures? How do you think Oakland should make sure that students don’t fall through the cracks as schools get larger with consolidation? 

I can tell you that I was not supportive when I heard that January message around school closures. It challenged me to hear that students who were already incredibly impacted and families that were impacted were now faced with that threat of their schools being closed. Five of those schools were in my district. There had not been sufficient outreach and engagement for parents and families to hear, to understand, and to weigh in through any school community driven process. And, there had not been a race and equity analysis brought before the Board, and certainly I wasn’t aware of it as a Chair of the Education and Partnership Committee, where we have Council members and we have OUSD Trustees. 

So I stood out as not supporting our school closures and believed that we’ve got to invest in our schools to keep them open.  Grass Valley is now one of the schools that we’re looking to that’s still on the list along with Brookfield. We’re building a beautiful habitat garden in the back. These are our community schools that we’ve got to work to ensure that those families are supported, that they’ve got the educational academic enrichment within the proximity of our families that need to get their kids to school. 

But with that, we also need to make sure that our schools are investing more deeply in that quality education that our students deserve. The proficiency levels at all of our schools are troubling and we cannot accept the level of proficiency that we have our students trending at without understanding how do we drive towards more academic success, programming, resources, quality learning, and making sure that our teachers have the support that they need. We also must advocate prioritizing equitable investment and equitable outcomes at all of our schools. That’s something that we need to focus on and I’m committed to doing as Mayor and making sure that every stakeholder within the school community is at the table, including our non-citizen parents, caregivers and legal guardians.

I’m also a co-author for Measure S and want to make sure that our parents all are empowered with a voice at the table with who is making those decisions as the elected officials. I’m hoping that we’ve heard from parents who’ve not felt empowered and who’ve not felt heard in the process of school closures and have not felt heard as it relates to academic enrichment programs and resources that they feel and are responded to in a manner they deserve.  Having their voice responded to and their demands acknowledged can help deliver the outcomes that help our children rise and have academic success. Their long term career success helps to build up the economic community vitality that we want to see them leading out from, and it feeds one generation to the next in our schools and in our community. Those are commitments that I’ve made around that particular issue. 

I’ll continue to stand in my role as Mayor to call on our state leaders, our legislative partners, to deliver more deeply with us. Some of the work that I led when I worked for Nancy Skinner, our state Senator, when she was the state Budget Chair and State Assembly member was to make sure that we had paths to eliminate the debt for OUSD. We’re still calling on those paths to work with OUSD in ways to bring that financial stewardship and stability that they need. Another issue is housing from the state and pushing for deeper funding for our teachers rooted in Oakland programs so that our teachers are able to stay here and be housed with stipends and maintain that community connection with living and engaging in the community with the schools and community they’re serving.

TRUANCY: Truancy is a pressing issue for a lot of Oakland students who see their friends and classmates become a part of the juvenile justice system, essentially putting a young person through the school to prison pipeline.  Do you think there should be an alternative solution for addressing truancy and what would that be? 

We’ve got to find out why our students aren’t coming to school. Oftentimes, there are issues beyond what we might see in the student not showing up. We need to understand that there are certainly a lot of impactful issues that prevent children from coming, dynamics that may be taking place in the household, issues that their parents are managing or they may not have the ability to get there with what they need and lack resources or access. 

I think we need to, one, get together to understand what are the issues impacting this truancy rate. I don’t have all of those answers as to what those impacts are, but I believe that we have to come to the table so that we can work together on strategies and solutions that address it, and that encourage students to be able to come to school with addressing any barrier that’s preventing them or their family from having them there. 

What we hear from students, particularly our high school students, is that they feel like school is where they’re being babysat, that they don’t feel that the school has been engaging for them. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some deeper rooted matters there that may have led to that, but they haven’t felt that the curriculum and programs have captured their level of interest and attention. We perhaps need to look more deeply into what it looks like to reimagine our public schools. I mean, students are on technology and devices all day. How do we incorporate the technology, tools and those resources that are adaptive to the students’ learning, interests and patterns that help to benefit a school culture that excites, motivates and lends them to be innovators and that gets them excited about coming to school outside of really addressing some of those other deeper root issues. 

If the children are not eating at home, if the children are not sleeping at home, if there are dynamics of trauma at home, those are a deeper level of things that we need to be able to address and work on to provide support and resources and services to those children to make sure that their home environment is also healthy and stable. I was the chair of Community Education Partnerships. It is an organization that helps students who are unhoused or highly mobile. There are students like I was, who are living from one house to the next, one hotel to the next. Those patterns of housing instability can really impact a student from getting the rest that they need to get up and get going in the morning, and for whatever that dynamic it is that their parents are experiencing that may also be a barrier. Certainly as you talk about school closures and schools potentially being 4 miles away? That is yet another barrier that we have to be mindful of that can prevent a student from being able to be present, engage, participate and stay on the path of their trajectory of coming through that school year and moving on, being fully equipped and empowered from that school grade into the next grade level

DUMP THE D: Where do you stand on Dump the D, a campaign dedicated to making D a failing grade so that students can retake courses and get a C or higher so that they will be eligible for UCs, which consider D a failing grade? What are your plans on giving students more information about what it takes to be eligible for a UC before it’s too late? 

I absolutely support dumping the D and I believe that we need to have more of our students engaged in the A through G eligibility. Black students are certainly in a more impactful area of not meeting those requirements. We know that a D will sink their A through G eligibility and put them on a path of not really being able to be prepared for all the options that we want our students to consider. 50% of students don’t even know the impact of a D or the A through G requirements or if they’re on track. Our students should have information. They should be empowered with tools to support them. They should be engaged in workshops that we provide for parents and students in middle school to set them up for success, where we discuss how to get them on the road for the best options and not allow our students to be written off, or to not understand how to be empowered, or how to be change agents with how they’re preparing for all of their school options.

The highest percentage of students of color are concentrated in continuation schools, where they say they haven’t been successful. They’re cutting class and they’re getting pulled out of school so they’re no longer on that A through G tracking. That lends to truancy. If you don’t feel prepared, if you’ve not been empowered, if you’re not aware of what those opportunities and options are, or how you’re supposed to be on track to have success…when you realize that you’re not on track, that can be impactful. 

Our students have mental and emotional and behavioral health needs that in this time of COVID have been incredibly impactful. And the last thing that we need to do in the midst of that is not set our children up for success. And so I believe, yes, dump the D, and that we should be preparing our students for the best options. 

We want our students to know that we believe in them, that we’re there to help guide them, and that we want to help them understand that our priority is academics and putting our students first and making sure that we are also collaborating with their caregivers, their parents, and their school counselors for that robust academic support or guidance that’s needed. I want students to champion their own educational path. We want students to be empowered and really feel a sense of investment in them.

It’s what I saw happen for my daughter in her high school. She was equipped with a lot of tools. I was equipped with a lot of tools as a parent. Through that process of her staying engaged in a school that they tracked, they monitored, they had counselors available at different parts of the day to get assistance, to get support. We made it easy. They made it accessible at her school. My daughter was able to come through her high school academic journey and get a full ride to Harvard University. I want to see other students understanding the important aspects of their own educational path. I want to dump the D to ensure that students pass their classes with a C or higher that preserves their A through G eligibility and opens the door for college access. For those that want to go into the trade. We need to make sure that we invest more deeply into those building trade partnerships to give our students another path towards sustaining their family with living wage jobs, so that they’re able to be deeply invested and hopefully remain in Oakland. 

SAFE SCHOOLS: What do you think is the appropriate balance in making schools a safer place without criminalizing students? How do you think schools should address threats of shootings?

Well, we know that the culture keepers are on campus, and there’s an opportunity to build with them to really help uplift an environment where students have a sense of safety and a sense of partnering with those who are there to add a measure of protection and support for them. OUSD, we know, has taken out from their schools police officers and have brought in the culture keepers. I believe that there’s an opportunity to build on that model. Parents are asking for increased safety and security measures. We’re looking at safety assessments and the cost of safety assessments. We met with Senator Feinstein’s office today. We met with Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senator Padilla, and we’re talking about what that investment looks like in creating safe school environments. We know that students don’t want metal detectors. We don’t want to create that type of environment for our students either.  

We hear from students that they don’t prefer police officers in their school so we need to come together as a community to understand what it does look like to have increased security measures at our schools for the protection of our students, our teachers, our faculty, and our staff. As a city, we’ve invested two and a half million dollars into restorative justice measures, mental health clinicians, violence interrupters and curriculum. I believe that we can increase that measure of trauma and healing care support services as Art For Healing.  We need to look at a lot of nontraditional paths as we’re considering what school safety looks like and how to create that environment. 

We know our students deserve to be protected. We know that our students and our parents need to know that when they bring their children to a school campus, that they don’t have to live with a fear or have to allow the trauma of what we’ve seen take place at too many schools across the country and the two schools in my district— Madison Park Academy and on the King Estates campus.  So we’re still working with those schools. We’re still meeting with those parents. We’re still meeting with faculty and staff. We’re still meeting with OUSD and our Department of Violence Prevention and our law enforcement partners to understand what that looks like today. What we do know is that parents want their children to be safe, and students don’t want to go to school with a sense of fear. I’m willing to continue to work at that table to strategize on those solutions and work to secure the investment in partnership with OUSD to deliver that increased safety for them and to encourage other state, federal and county partners to join with us deeply on increasing our violence prevention, intervention, healing, trauma care, and gender-based violence initiatives with their funding beyond my desire to double that investment that we have made as a city into these paths forward. 

MEASURE QQ: One last question from students.  What will you do to make sure that Measure QQ is implemented next election, considering the let down that we cannot vote this November?  What can you do to encourage youth civic engagement and involve youth in your role considering we cannot vote? 

Measure QQ, we’ve been working with the registrar’s office to advocate against the number of the barriers that we continue to hear as to why our students are not voting in this election. 

I was a strong advocate of Measure QQ. I supported it. I still support it and we’re still working to bring that ballot measure to realization. Our students deserve it. We’ve got to be honest and transparent and we should have had more open conversations about what some of these challenges are.

We’ve been working with a number of the community leader groups, but certainly hearing that question from the students, I’m not sure how much of those conversations of the work that we’ve been trying to lead between our City Attorney’s Office and the Alameda County Registrar in their office on a number of these systemic barriers that have prevented us from allowing our students to have what they deserve and demand it successfully through that ballot measure. 

And so continuing to work with our students and keeping them at the table. there’s opportunity certainly in this election to engage youth of every age into the campaigns that are before us, the ballot measures that are before us. We’ve had a number of students who have been participating in ballot measures like Measure S. There are students that are involved in ballot measure for Measure Yfor the zoo because of funding that can potentially come more deeply into the schools and into community-based organizations that are youth serving organizations.

I would encourage our students to stay engaged in this process. We actually pay and invest in students to partner on our campaigns. I believe that when students lend their time that can be very tight for civic engagement, that they’re worth investing in as they invest in that democratic process. So, join a campaign! I’ve been speaking to at least five schools recently, and I can provide you a link to a document that we created on civic engagement and organizations for our youth to consider to partner with. 

We’ve been sharing a number of organizations with a number of different missions and visions or issues for our students to plug into. We’ve been encouraging our students to join a youth-serving commission like our OFCY Commission and others for them to come in, get a paid stipend to lend their expertise, their voice, and ideas, their solutions, their input on budget and policies through the City Commissions that we have right now. 

I was at a school and just encouraging students to participate in their student government and helping to build up those clubs on campus and encouraging those student government clubs to call elected officials, community based organizations, civic leaders to their school, to have them provide updates, to have them address throughout their school year where we stand on issues and opportunities that are impactful for the youth. 

We’ve led two Youth Summits. We’re having another one. We allow youth to create the conversation and decide what those summits will discuss based on the issues that are most impactful for them. 

Lastly, I’ll share that in this last budget, I help to secure over half a million dollars for youth serving organizations. I serve on the board of East Oakland Youth Development Center (EOYDC) and served as the president of the Chair of Community Education Partnerships.  I served with the Crucible and I would love to see more funding into arts and cultural programs, more stipends into our young entrepreneurs, more entrepreneurial, incubator programs in the schools. We had Junior Achievement when I was growing up and that helped to ignite and inspire the entrepreneurial and artistic gift. In our students, those are gifts that I would like to invest more deeply in and encourage them to partner with organizations that we are funding for them to be able to tap into those resources, tap into mentors, tap into programs that allow them to travel and tour and see and experience many areas and meet people in Oakland and outside of Oakland, including traveling abroad and getting that perspective and bringing ideas back and how they show up serving civically and empowering us with political ideas, school initiatives, community engagement and taking a leadership role.

That’s available. It’s welcomed, and I encourage it. And I’ve had interns on my office. And so if there’s anyone out there that’s engaged with me that would love to be on our team, we invite you to come connect with our office at [email protected] for you to come alongside our office and get involved in the work. And that’s what I did at an early age. And I encourage other people to do the same. 

Do you have any closing words or final statement that you want to make?

I just appreciate that our youth are interested, that they’re engaged, that they want to know where we stand on the issues that are impacting them, issues about keeping them safe and protected and at peace in their home, in the community, and at school. 

They are interested in hearing about how we’re working to keep people housed and housed permanently. They’re engaged when I meet with them about opportunities to know how we’re going to keep the city clean and beautiful, and keep pathways to and from school out their door and around their school, creating healthy environments for them to thrive and to live amongst that comes up more honestly than the shootings and the homicide and the violence with our students. They talk about the mattresses. They talk about what they see and experience just walking out the door throughout the city. So wanting to make sure that those pathways, that living environment that they see, that they’re invested in every corner of the city. 

As I’m running for mayor, I want them to understand that I’m running to deliver on solutions with them at the table with me, alongside me, to make sure that we see solutions that  realize the outcomes that they will track and measure and hold me accountable to those goals, and not to have a leader who will have excuses. That they will hold me accountable, that they’ll hold me accountable to our safety goals, our housing goals, our food security and healthy food access goals, keeping our businesses open and our community working and our parents and guardians working and thriving in this community and keeping our communities that are most impacted,prioritized and served and connected. 

That is the type of person that I am. I’m the oldest born, one of the oldest born grandchildren of 130 plus grandchildren. I got over 130 cousins of just my father’s siblings. I grew up with this deep model of when you love people, you take care of them, you show up for them.  What I’ve learned early on in life, you make a way out of no way to ensure that everyone has the best opportunity and access to live and thrive and gain opportunities to their best potential in life. 

That’s what I’ve modeled in my life, and that’s what I will model as our next Mayor.  I encourage them to stay connected with me on IG @ReidforOakland, reidforoakland.com, and certainly on Facebook, if any of them are still on Facebook @TrevaReidforOakland.

So thank you for this time. Join with me and hold me accountable, and let’s get Oakland back on track.  Let’s make sure that we protect our students and our kids and give them the support, and that measure of our own city motto of Love Life.  Give them the love that they deserve and the investments and the equity and a priority that we give to them and having them standing with us, making effective decisions that bring change, that bring results that lead to action and that are held up with the accountability that I know that they will empower me in as their mayor. 

I’m coming up on the day on Halloween that our son Brandon was murdered. I was working for Nancy Skinner and I was leading out on a number of initiatives helping to create violence prevention initiatives and packages and getting people organized all over the state to show up in ways that we kept families and people safe. And there was a bill that Nancy Skinner had, it was AB 48. I’ll never forget this bill. It was her bullet bill. And our son was murdered. One bullet. One amazing life. One beautiful soul at 20 years old. And my heart is for families and children. My heart is for mothers like me who have endured the deep trauma of losing their loved ones. My heart is for families like mine who face the threat of homelessness and housing insecurity. 

My heart is for those – like this month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – who face the impact of intimate partner abuse. And like me almost having lost my life while I was carrying my child, that same child that got a full ride to Harvard and went on the trauma and drama of our life. I never would have anticipated that outcome. I fight for families who, like mine, relied on welfare and WIC and food insecurity is real and wanted a good hot meal and a roof over your head and being able to give your children the best. And so I know that when you have a strong village and when you have people that see you and hear you and will fight for you and respond with you to deliver on real outcomes that transform and change your life, that everything is possible. 

And I want to see other families get through all the trauma and drama and weight of this crisis that has nearly crippled too many families, to come through this with the support that they need. That is what I’m committed to. Families. I launched a business of my own called Triumphant Woman to help mothers, single parents and mothers to be able to come through those confidence crumbling seasons of their life with a network and a village of support with every resource that you can imagine. Helping them to rebuild their dreams. Helping them to get the mental care, the counseling care, the supportive care, whatever that access point is to get back up, and get in position, and run and to have your children and your family alongside you leading with you into the next best season of your life. 

That’s what I want to see for the City and for all families.

For more information on their candidacy, check out their candidate website linked here and additional information at FIA Oakland.

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