The following blog post was adapted from a message organizer Katy Nuñez-Adler sent to OCO education leaders over the Presidents’ Day weekend.

I hope you are enjoying the long weekend. I am taking a moment this Presidents’ Day to reflect on how inspired and honored I am to work with you. Your commitment and actions give life to Mahatma Gandhi’s famous words to “be the change you wish to see in the world.” Your courage and continued commitment to Oakland’s students sends a powerful message that change is possible when we work for it!

Last Wednesday, Feb. 12, over 125 parents, students, community members and clergy from 15 schools and six congregations joined in a Valentine’s Day-themed “Share the Love” action. They held pink, red and white balloons and carried signs calling on OUSD School Board members to “Share the Love – Send Money to Schools Now!”

Parent leader Luz Alcaraz from Community United Elementary School (CUES), Skyline High School student and Youth Together leader Shah Turner and Greenleaf Middle School students Noreli Garcia and Sara Renderos spoke on behalf of the group during the public comment portion of the meeting. Once again, they shared concrete examples of the critical and urgent needs facing school communities. Many schools are lacking the most basic tools to support student learning, including functioning copy machines and enough paper to make homework packets through the end of the school year.

For many, it was the fifth, sixth or seventh time you had participated in a meeting in your school community, at the OCO office, at OUSD’s downtown offices or at a School Board meeting to support sending more money to schools since the Board voted last June to send $4.5 million in additional Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) dollars to schools for the 2013-14 school year.

Unfortunately, OUSD Board members tabled the discussion during closed session, delaying the vote on whether to send $1.5 million above the mandated reserve to school sites. This was particularly disappointing since a majority of Board members had told parents, students and community leaders they would vote “yes” in support of sending money to students in their schools in discussions in the days immediately leading up to the meeting.

Despite the temporary set back, last Wednesday’s action was well organized and powerful. A special shout out to: Araceli and Elizabeth for materials prep; Manuel, Mandy, Richard, Lydia and the Greenleaf student team for sign-in and stickers; Les for balloon pickup; Maria for making critical phone calls; Samantha for outreach and leading prep with OCO leaders; Thao and Alyssa for serving up the pizza; Simone for bringing three generations of family members; Jason for being our photojournalist; and other angels whom I may have forgotten to list.

NEXT STEPS: 

We have been informed that the issue of sending $1.5 million to schools will be discussed and voted on at the OUSD Board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 26, which will be held at La Escuelita School in the OUSD Board Meeting Room (1050 2nd Ave.). Since it will be considered under new business, it is expected to come up early on the agenda, around 6:30-6:45pm.

It is critical that we show the OUSD Board and Administration our unity and the power of organized communities to create positive change for Oakland students, particularly for low-income students of color!

For more information on how to get involved, please feel free to email katy@oaklandcommunity.org or call 510-967-5137 (my cell).