What’s Next for Our Schools

Published by Beth Gunston on

By liz suk, Leadership Development Manager

A few weeks ago when the Oakland Education Association announced that teachers would strike, I spoke at their press conference asking other parents of Oakland public school students to join me in standing in solidarity with teachers by not crossing picket lines. My children joined the 93% of Oakland public school students who did not attend school during the strike. For 7 school days, rather than sending my 2nd and 4th graders to school, I took them to strike picket lines and sent them to “solidarity schools.” Together, we participated in several actions, including taking over the lobby of the State building where we held our own solidarity school while the contract negotiations were underway two floors above us. After those 7 days, an agreement was signed and the following week, after OEA members ratified a contract, my children returned to school feeling proud of their teachers and their own participation in making history happen.

I grew up in our local public school system, and I’m proud to send my kids to Oakland public schools. But I’m not blind. I see the holes and gaps in our education system. And, the students most heavily impacted are Black and Brown children from working-class families. I see why parents uproot their children and move to “better schools” or send them to charters with the promise of better test scores. I see that in California, public schools have been failing students for far too long – and yet I believe in the promise of public schools.

The fight now moves beyond the teacher strikes that have happened across the state and to the ballot. It’s time to address what is at the root of this problem – chronic lack of funding. The Schools & Communities First Act – a proposition on the November 2020 ballot – will generate $11 billion dollars annually for California public schools, community colleges, community health clinics, and many more vital services by closing a 40+ year-old commercial property tax loophole. My family is moving from the picket line to the ballot fight. It’s time to restore the promise of public schools by supporting Schools & Communities First Act.

Text “Our Future” or “Futuro” to 97779: JOIN THE CAMPAIGN

Since 1978, the impacts of Prop 13 (the reduction of property tax), has been devastating to education, social services, and other public services. The Schools & Communities First Act gives us a chance to fix it by making corporations pay their fair share of property taxes while guaranteeing existing protections for residential property and small businesses. For over 40 years, Prop 13 has drained public funds to the point that public schools across California are falling apart. In 2003 we saw how because of a massive budget deficit, OUSD went under state receivership for 6 years. Many blame local mismanagement, but we also need to point out that lack of funding from the state. Let’s be real – Oakland didn’t have much money to mismanage to begin with.

I believe in the promise of public schools. And I am fighting everyday so that my kids can know this promise. I am fighting everyday so that all students, from the flatlands to the hills, can have access to quality public education. Join me in supporting the Schools and Communities First Act.