Positive Changes Ahead: Antwan Wilson and Paul Toner Visit GO Teacher Policy Fellows

June 3rd was a big day for OUSD teachers:  we had the opportunity to ratify the Tentative Agreement on our contract, a step which would reform hiring practices in the District, modify our health care benefits, change caps on counseling and special education ratios, and–perhaps most important–significantly increase our pay.

The date also coincided with a welcome dinner for our fourth cohort of Teacher Fellows. We welcomed sixteen new teachers into the fellowship, and hosted Paul Toner, past president of the 110,000 member Massachusetts Teachers Union.

With the energy generated by the OEA union vote, we were primed to hear Toner’s narrative of strengthening unions through increased participation. Toner first became involved in his local teachers union in Cambridge almost by accident, and initially, he was put off by the atmosphere and tone that pervaded the meetings.  In a 2013 TeachPlus interview on the GameChangers blog, he said,  “I found that a minority of negative people seemed to be the loudest and dominated the union meetings…My friends and I began to think that this was not good…for the members or the students”. Rather than withdraw, Toner increased his involvement and focused on making positive changes, helping to create a union he wanted to be a part of.  When pressed to explain the most critical factor in increasing union engagement in Cambridge, Toner didn’t enumerate some sophisticated outreach strategy.  Rather, he revealed that his union started having regular social events at The Thirsty Scholar in Somerville, MA. (Surely Oakland must have a bar with an equally awesome, education-related name!)

Paul rose from school representative to local president to state Vice President and, ultimately, MTA President.  Paul calls himself a “progressive” unionist and believes we must reform our view of the union as an organization that only pursues better pay and job protection for teachers.  Instead, we need to become a union of professional educators.  He is steadfast in his belief that, in order to be “treated as professionals and maintain the support of the public we must be equally zealous in our advocacy in promoting teacher quality and teacher-led reforms. We must advocate for setting high academic standards, promoting strong evaluation systems and designing better teacher preparation and professional development programs” (Real Clear Education, 2014).

A union that represents more voices, increases dialogue and civility, and seeks to professionalize our work?  That’s something we were all ready to vote to ratify!

Two weeks later, the GO Teacher Policy Fellows had another important visitor.  On June 16th, we met with OUSD Superintendent, Antwan Wilson. The meeting was conceived of as follow-up to a teacher forum the Policy Fellows hosted in April to learn more about the Call for Quality Schools and the current Intensive Support Schools. The forum had been a success:  30 teachers from 20 different schools, both district and charter, came together to hear from a panel consisting of educators with expertise in school turnaround.  Afterwards, the rich discussions among participants were compiled into a letter full of questions, ideas, and understandings, which was sent to the Superintendent (Click here to read the letter).

We spent the first part of our June meeting with Wilson discussing the Call for Quality Schools further. Wilson shared some of the successes around the policy, as well as some challenges that he and his team faced this year. Overall, Wilson evinced optimism about the policy and enthusiasm about embarking on the next phase of reform with the four current ISS schools.

In addition to discussing the Call for Quality Schools, Wilson shared his priorities for the district, specifically around attracting and retaining effective talent, a matter that  the Fellows are strongly invested in.  He shared some of his ideas for helping to keep effective educators in the district, including higher pay, a strong evaluation system, and career pipelines for teachers to advance professionally while remaining  in the classroom. He reached out to the Fellows for more ideas and best practices to attract effective educators and keep them in Oakland. The discussion sparked innovative ideas from both charter and district perspectives.

The meeting ended with a chance for Wilson to reflect on his first year in Oakland and share some of his highlights along with lessons he has learned. He spoke candidly and with a sense of great hope for the future of Oakland Unified. The meeting was an exciting opportunity for GO Policy Fellows to learn more about Wilson’s plans while also providing a platform to share our unique experiences as Oakland teachers. We appreciate Superintendent Wilson taking the time to meet with us and we look forward to working more with him to make positive change in OUSD.

Paul Toner and Antwan Wilson.  The 2014-2015 GO Teacher Policy Fellowship ended with some thought-provoking guest speakers.  We’re going into the summer to rest up and revitalize for opportunities in the new school year to not only do great work in our classrooms, but to be leaders and change-makers in larger spheres.  See you in September (er…mid-August)!


Open Letter to Superintendent Wilson

Dear Superintendent Wilson,
We, the GO Teacher Policy Fellows, are writing to share appreciations, concerns, and ideas regarding the Intensive Support Schools initiative and Call for Quality Schools policy. The GO Teacher Policy Fellows are teachers from across Oakland – in both district and charter schools – who work together to learn about teaching policy and community organizing, build community among Oakland’s teachers, and ensure that teachers’ voices are included in decisions about the future of education. Recently, we organized and hosted an informational forum for Oakland teachers on these policies.

Approximately 30 teachers from 20 schools, both district and charter, participated that evening – a mixture of GO Teacher Policy Fellows and teachers unaffiliated with the fellowship.

At the event, teachers had an opportunity to learn about the Quality Schools Development policy and share their (1) appreciations, (2) concerns, and (3) ideas for future implementation for this policy. Below, we have done our best to capture the most often expressed sentiments in the room as teachers discussed the policy and implementation.
We hope you will consider this as you lead our district in the effort to ensure that every Oakland student receives a high quality education, no matter where he or she lives or chooses to attend school.

1. Appreciations. In general, when considering the ISS policy, the educators in the room are appreciative for the following:
● A clear rejection of the status quo. The teachers at our forum all recognize that far too many Oakland students are underserved in our schools and appreciate your willingness to reject this current state of inadequacy and underperformance. The consensus in the room is that we can and must do better by our students.
● A strong sense of urgency. Attendees shared an appreciation for your willingness to take bold action that will create the systemic change Oakland schools need to improve.

● The opportunity to “dream big”. Many in the room, especially those at the five ISS schools, thank you for the invitation to plan ambitiously when considering possibilities for school redesign.

● Community engagement. While most teachers at the event shared frustration with the lack of community engagement at the beginning of this process, many also voiced an appreciation for the attempts that the district has made since to foster more discussion with all stakeholders about this policy and implementation process. We encourage you to continue to make this a priority.

2. Concerns. While the Oakland teachers who attended this event recognize the need for urgent, bold change, we have some concerns about the process by which change occurs. Specifically, we wonder about:
● Sustainability and funding. Will schools receive the adequate resources, primarily funding, needed to not only begin but also sustain, over time, school improvement? Will you, Superintendent Wilson, be here through the many years it will take to support the continued growth and improvement in our schools?
● Lack of trust and district accountability. Johanna Paraiso, Teacher of the Year and a panelist at the event, asked, “When does the healing happen?” Over the years, Oakland teachers have experienced consistent turnover and lack of follow-through from the district office, while at the same time being expected to implement different reform efforts every year. Many expressed disappointment that the roll out of ISS seems to have only deepened these feelings of distrust. These teachers are concerned about how, and whether, the district will take effective steps to heal this broken relationship.
● Community voice and engagement. As mentioned above, many teachers recognize and appreciate the level of community engagement that has occurred since the ISS process has begun. However, they are still frustrated with what they felt was a lack of community engagement prior to the roll out.
● The broader context. When we discuss school improvement in Oakland, we must consider all of the elements affecting school performance, including, but not limited to: the history (successes and failures) of education reform efforts in Oakland and the impact of poverty on student learning. In addition to encouraging and supporting the schools to better serve our students, what are you doing to partner our schools’ efforts with the broader community’s so that we are all in this together?

3. Ideas for Future Implementation. As we move forward with this critical work, we ask that you consider the following recommendations:
● Create institutional power for all community members to have a voice. It was a transformational moment when OEA President Trish Gorham applauded you at a school board meeting in the fall for representing the union’s voice in your five-year plan. Similarly, the GO Teacher Policy Fellows appreciated the great work you did at the start of this school year to engage with us and all members of the community while determining your administration’s priorities and plans. It is critical that the district establish and continue to nurture a community-minded model as we work to improve outcomes for Oakland students.The district must consistently recognize and utilize the expertise that all stakeholders bring to thisc hallenging work and slowly rebuild the trust needed to make the real, bold change that we ALL want to see in our schools.
● Fully fund the reform we all seek. The teachers, school leaders, parents, students, and community members at the five ISS schools are already meeting the deadlines for letter of intent and proposal submission. However, we know that a plan is just a plan without the resources needed to implement it. Let’s show our students that we are willing, ready, and committed to investing in the high quality education they deserve.
● Build upon what is already working in Oakland schools. Despite the severe challenges we face, Oakland educators are accomplishing incredible things with students everyday. We urge you to continue to visit schools and engage with educators to learn what is working in our schools. With all the amazing efforts already underway, we can boldly improve our schools without starting from scratch.
● Ensure a culture of support, not punishment. It is critical that teachers in ISS schools – and all Oakland schools – feel supported, not punished, when there is room for improvement. Some educators at this event felt that the ISS process is punitive. We can all agree that turning around schools is hard work. It requires a drive for constant improvement, both at the district level and in schools. In order to ensure that all Oakland schools are consistently improving, the district must promote a culture of support districtwide.

Thank you for taking the time to listen and engage with the thoughts and experiences reflected in this letter. We remain hopeful and committed to working in partnership to achieve the best for our students.

In Partnership,
Lisa Rothbard, Skyline High School, GO Teacher Policy Fellow
Christi Carpenter, Life Academy, GO Teacher Policy Fellow
Emma Coufal, Think College Now, GO Teacher Policy Fellow
Rachel Korschun, Coliseum College Prep Academy, GO Teacher Policy Fellow
Jennie Herriot-Hatfield, Think College Now, GO Teacher Policy Fellow
Katy Simon, Edna Brewer Middle School, GO Teacher Policy Fellow
Ron Towns, Envision Academy of Arts and Technology, GO Teacher Policy Fellow
Sonya Mehta, Learning Without Limits Elementary School, GO Teacher Policy Fellow

Why I’m Supporting the Tentative Agreement

11110459_10155531716495720_7585585537970679153_nToday’s blog comes from veteran teacher, union representative from Westlake Middle School, and OEA Executive Board Member, Angela Badami-Knight.  Angela shares her thoughtful rationale for why she will be voting to ratify the Tentative Agreement reached by OUSD and OEA.  Read on to learn more about the tenets of the TA and how they benefit Oakland teachers.

Although we know that we need even smaller class sizes and more resources in order to best serve our students, we cannot ignore the forward progress that has been made in this round of bargaining. Below I have outlined the reasons I voted YES from my seat on the Executive Board, and will be voting YES as a union member to ratify the Tentative Agreement.

 Article 21- Counselor Ratios:

Academic Counselor Ratios are 600:1 district wide and now include 6th grade. (The previous ratios were 700:1 and did not include 6th grade.) Each school will get counseling services at least once a month. With this change, more schools will have the opportunity to have experts counseling struggling students and making sure they fulfill all their academic requirements.

 Article 12 – Transfer and Vacancy Policy

OEA Members across the district have let the bargaining team know what they value in a vacancy/transfer policy. They value seniority rights for those displaced by no fault of their own and they value making sure that teachers new to their sites are on board with the vision of their school. This new process upholds these two values by creating a compensated Personnel Committee, and ensuring that teachers in the Talent Pool (teachers displaced of no fault of their own) retain the right to choose a site based on their seniority. Many schools have already been using some form of a hiring committee. These folks were usually hand picked by the principal and unpaid. In the new process, the Personnel Committee is elected by teachers at the site and are a majority of the decision making body. For two phases of the new process, Talent Pool teachers must engage with sites with vacancies, and also retain the right to choose whichever vacancy they see fit based on their seniority.

The new process also addresses the issue of principals hiding vacancies until the summer time, giving them the time to cherry pick internal and external hires. In the new process, external hires and voluntary transfers (for whom vacancies are usually hidden) are only allowed in the process at the very beginning (before consolidation happens) and AFTER  Phases 2 and 3, when Talent Pool teachers have priority.

In order to be competitive with other districts, we must be able to hire during the school year. No one wants to go into the summer not knowing where they are working the next year, it is not good for schools, it is not good for teachers.  With this new system, the bargaining team expects that the majority of positions will be filled before the end of Phase 3.

 Article 24: Increased Compensation

This compensation package includes a guaranteed 8% raise, some of which is retroactive, and historic language ensuring that teacher salaries and raises are calculated into the OUSD budget from the beginning. It also includes “positive contingency” language that gives OEA members more money when the district gets more money. The bargaining team and CTA consultants have been monitoring the CA state budget process and are confident that we will see some extra compensation through these positive contingencies.

The 2.5% increase that comes into effect in January 2016 includes 1.65% compensation for increasing weekly minimum days by 30 minutes for teacher collaboration. This collaboration will not begin until Fall 2016. The Faculty Council at each school will use the Spring 2016 semester to figure plan how this collaboration will look at their site. At the beginning of the bargaining process, OUSD wanted us to have an extended day with zero compensation and with the district dictating how the time was used. The bargaining team heard from sites that they do need more collaboration time with colleagues and have made sure it is compensated and controlled at the school site.  In addition, sites that do not have these minimum days will still get the 2.5% increase in compensation.

Overall, This compensation package is a step towards the median of Alameda County. After approving this contract, we can focus on lobbying Sacramento to make sure even more money is allocated to education budgets in the future.

 Details of the compensation package:

2% raise effective July 2014

1% raise effective Feb 1, 2015

2.5% raise effective June 30, 2015

2.5% effective Jan 1, 2016

     =8% raise by January 2016

 Contingent funds/ raises — The contingency language is based on how much money OUSD gets from CA.  The more money we get, the more money teachers get in the form of one-time money (bonus) and on-going raises.

2014-2015, 33% of any “one-time unrestricted funds” (i.e. LCAP funds) OUSD gets over what is projected will go toward a one time bonus for teachers by Oct 31, 2015

2015-2016, 39% of any money OUSD gets over what is projected will go toward an ongoing teacher salary raise, on top of the aforementioned %’s

2015-2016, 39% of any “one-time unrestricted funds” (i.e. LCAP funds) OUSD gets over what is projected will go toward a one time bonus for teachers by Oct 31, 2015

2016-2017, tiered percentage amounts for all funds above what is projected. This money will be added as an ongoing raise.

BREAKING NEWS: According to the latest assessment by our CTA advisor, the Mayor’s May revision estimate for the ‘14-15 school year  is >2.5% additional (on top of the 2% and 1% half year on going). That means in excess of 5% retro pay, and 5.5% on going effective July 1, 2015. This new compensation formula will most likely be a BIG WIN for OEA!

Article 15- SDC Caseload Limits

SDC Caseload Limits are now embedded in the contract. Although they are not hard caps, it is historic that they are even mentioned. There is no regulation of SDC class size at the federal level, and only 31 states have state guidelines. The CA state guideline is 28:1,  A ratio much higher than the proposed soft caps. Including soft caps and a detailed way of reporting class sizes above those caps, is a strong step in the right direction. I am confident that we are moving closer to being one of the few districts with hard caps for SDC classes. We now have an institutionalized way to gather data on class sizes, a more competitive compensation package to attract teachers, and a contractual starting point. One way we will ensure that we have good data and oversight is the creation of a new Special Education Faculty Council (Art 16) that can help monitor these issues and problem solve anything that comes up.

We also need to consider the role that the parent choice in the enrollment process has in creating inequitable SDC class sizes across the district. Why are parents choosing some schools over others? What can we do to ensure families have good choices in their neighborhoods? Once we have more detailed data about caseloads from the next two years, OEA will be in a better position to bargain hard caps.

 Health Benefits Governing Board

The creation of the Health Benefits Governing Board (HBGB) is comprised of representatives from all of the unions in OUSD. Instead of having the district decide on the future of our health benefits, OUSD’s workers will be able to collaborate with each other to decide on how best to ensure that we maintain a choice of benefit providers while also keeping cost low for both the district and individuals. The district will no longer be able to try to bargain healthcare as a part of a compensation package.

The Bargaining Team, Executive Board, CAT Team and Site Reps have done extensive outreach during this bargaining period. We have found that there are many members who want movement away from the status quo, especially where Article 12 is concerned. This Tentative Agreement reflects a merging of varied OEA member opinions.  The bargaining team had a difficult job. We have 2300 members, all with unique experiences, and it was their job to represent all of us. In addition, bargaining is a process in which you put out your ideal offer, and then each side makes moves that stay true to their values while also taking the other side’s values into consideration. I trust that this is the best possible offer the bargaining team could get at this time.

It would be devastating to have to go back to the bargaining table. The longer we drag out this process, the longer we will have to worry about low pay, conditions that do not help teacher retention issues, and the possibility of having a contract imposed on us. If we approve this Tentative Agreement, we can focus on advocating for an increased education budget at the state level, resources for students dealing with trauma, and strengthening teacher voice in policy making. In two years, we go back to the bargaining table and can build upon the progress we’ve made this round.


**What can you do to ensure that your opinion on the

Tentative Agreement (TA) is heard?**

1.  Email members of the Executive Board and let them know that you support the bargaining team and the TA.  We will be taking a recommendation vote on  the TA and your supportive voice needs to be heard.

 2.  Let your school’s OEA Rep know that you support the TA, speak about specific articles that resonate with you.  Rep Council will soon be taking a recommendation vote on the TA. Reps need to hear from folks with all opinions.  

 3.  Attend the TA membership ratification vote, Wednesday, June 3, 2:00 at Oakland High School.  Carpool with folks from your staff. Encourage everyone you know to take 10 minutes to come out to vote on the TA. Exercise your rights! Have your voice heard!

Dear OUSD: Turnaround Takes Time

Today’s bron photolog comes from Ron Towns, a 9th grade math teacher at Oakland Charter High School and GO Teacher Policy Fellow.  Ron’s experience as an educator includes working in a Chicago Public School through four years of a district-supervised turnaround process.  He reflects here on his observation of the process becoming corrupted and shares his hope that Oakland will do better.

When I applied for a job at a Chicago turnaround school, I thought, “wow, finally a district that is committed to reforming public schools”.  In a political climate where too many urban districts turn to charter schools to “take over” district, public schools, I was very excited to find a district that was committed to improving its public schools.

I started the job in Chicago after my first year of teaching, which I had completed in Madrid, Spain.  When I first arrived to Chicago, I was floored by the excitement and commitment of my colleagues.  Not only had the district hired a top-notch principal, trained through the nationally-recognized New Leaders program, but had recruited over 100 staff members, including 80 teachers, a full counseling and student support staff, social workers, school psychologist, 3 attendance clerks, 3 deans, and close to 20 security guards as well.  While we were great in number, more importantly, we had a huge amount of commitment to and love for our students and improving their educational experience.

And we did just that.  From the first to second year of turnaround, school culture changed drastically.  During our first year, students were oftentimes roaming the hallways during class and fights in classrooms were not uncommon.  Indeed, I felt more like a classroom manager than an educator during my first year.  On the first day of Year 2, however, things had changed.  In fact, from my second to fourth year at the school, I was able to use my instruction to move students from being five to six grade levels behind a lot closer to grade level.  As a math team, the team I led, we were able to: (a) vertically align our curriculum in accordance with Common Core; (b) dive into professional readings that discussed how to increase rigor in our classrooms; and (c) use lesson study and peer observation protocols in order to observe one another implement the instructional practices we had studied during professional development.

Despite our good work as a school, the district made it so difficult for us to continue it.  After Year 1, the amount of funding that we received each year steadily declined.  Unfortunately, the school is now in a position where they must choose between the reading intervention program and the extra school counselor.  In addition to reductions in funding, more recent district mandates have pressured educators to teaching to the state test, a very low-level test that does not show whether or not students are college and/or career-ready.  The district now micro-manages the school by requiring that all teachers do regular classroom assessments aligned to the state test.  Unfortunately, this has moved instruction (and teachers) away from a focus on how to teach rigorously to how to teach skills in isolation so that students can improve on a high-stakes test.  The result: after only six years of the turnaround effort, the majority of the staff has left.  Next year, the majority of the administration and staff will most likely be in their first to third year at the school.

As Oakland seeks to “turnaround” 5 of its public schools, I encourage the district to think about how support for the educators in that building can be sustained over time.  If Oakland is truly committed to its students and educators, then there will be no other option.

Call for Quality Schools: A Glossary of Terms

As you begin to learn more about the Call for Quality Schools, you will soon find yourself confronted with an almost impenetrable wall of references, acronyms, and group names.  To help you translate the jargon, we have created a Glossary to define the most important terms.  Put on these rubber boots as you wade through the morass.  Check out the informational post describing the Call for Quality Schools process here.

Academic Review Board

As part of the proposal evaluation process, the District will convene an ongoing team of content experts to review the proposals, conduct interview of proposal teams, and facilitate protocols with Site Based Committees to evaluate the quality of the proposals submitted.   The current membership can be found here

Balanced Scorecard

Provides data to support continuous school improvement efforts.  Indicators include:  chronic absences, participation in Common Core Aligned assessments, suspension rates of African Americans and Latinos, participation growth in the Scholastic Reading Inventory, graduation rates, CAHSEE passage rates, A-G requirement rates, Advanced Placement rates

Cycles of Inquiry

The process of analyzing data, making a plan and implementing it, evaluating the progress of the plan, and making adjustments.

Development Plan Implementation Team

A body set forth charged with participating in yearlong Program Development Process where they detail an implementation plan for Intensive Support Schools.

Effective Practices Database

A database of effective practices that support the sharing of effective practices in and among schools

Extended Site Visits

Extended Site Visits are ongoing annual assessments of school quality conducted once a year in all District-run schools and all District-Authorized charter schools. Extended Site Visits include4 hour visit by a team of trained individuals; classroom observations; interviews with key staff; focus groups with students and teachers; review of data and relevant documents; and observations of other relevant activities within the school.

Incubation Design Committee

The approved proposals for each Intensive Support School will undergo a yearlong Incubation Process. The process involves much more detailed planning, research and preparation. Design Teams will be formed in each school community to lead the incubation process.


The Schooling Process

Intensive Support Schools (ISS)

This year, the schools identified are: Brookfield Elementary, Castlemont High School, Fremont High School, Frick Middle School and McClymonds High School.  ISS will be reorganized according to a plan submitted by any of several potential entities (including the District or charter organizations) and chosen by a Site-based Committee.  These schools will received additional support and scrutiny and may operate under different work rules (e.g., longer school day/year, alternative hiring practices)

Measurable Pupil Outcomes (MPOs)

Charter applicants  certain measurements they will be accountable for achieving, which must include performance on State assessments required of all public schools. The District, as the authorizer, determines if the MPOs effectively evaluate the school’s performance, as well as ensure that the school is adequately improving pupil learning  according to these measurments.



Proposal Writing Team

Teams are likely to form to create a proposal to meet the Call for Quality Schools. These teams will likely include parents, teachers, students, and community members from the Intensive Support Schools. These teams will engage with the Site-based Committees and may share membership.


A quality school is defined as one that ensures thriving students and healthy communities.  The specific standards can be found here.

Quality School Development

Quality School Development is the District’s approach to ensuring that the conditions necessary to continuously improve are in place in every school.

School Improvement Partners

A district employee who will serve as a thought-partner to principals (and ILT’s) and Network and Deputy Network Superintendents and as a critical friend to school leaders and ILT’s to help them improve overall school/ student performance.

School Performance Framework

A collection of indicators contained in the Balanced Scorecard, compared alongside additional relevant indicators, such as enrollment facilities utilization, stakeholder surveys, and other demographic information.

School Quality Review (SQR)

A process in which all schools, through their school governance team, are accountable for assessing performance quality standards, student, student outcome goals, identifying key priorities for school improvement and establishing a school improvement plan.

Site-based Committee

The composition of 10-15 members will include at least two of the following; parents of current students, staff of the school, current secondary students, community-based partners, and community members. The purpose of this body is to elevate students and community need and to evaluate proposals submitted through the Call for Quality Schools Process. Committee may also include prospective parents and prospective secondary students.

Site Governance Team

A body that represents the School Site council that will provides ongoing monitoring and oversight of the implementation of the Intensive Support School’s School Quality Improvement Plan for five years.

Strategic Regional Analysis

An analysis that considers a robust set of factors including: school performance, enrollment trends, facilities capacity, and utilization, demographic trends, and school choice trends in supporting decision-making to identify Intensive Support Schools, changing school grade configurations, enrollment patterns, program placement and alternative program needs.

The Design Community

An informal, broad cross-section of stakeholders, comprised of representative parents, staff, community members and students.   Provides monthly feedback to the Development Plan Implementation Team.

Tiered Intervention

A standard approach to differentiating the supports provided to students based upon an assigned Tier or level of a school having met established quality standards.

The Most Informative Blog You’ll Ever Read About Oakland’s Call for Quality Schools

Senior Policy Fellow, Rachel Korschun, did extensive research about the Call for Quality Schools initiative, led by Superintendent Antwan Wilson, currently causing so much confusion and controversy in Oakland. 

Read here for an excellent overview of the situation.  The blog includes links galore, so you can check out the information for yourself from its primary sources.

What is the Call for Quality Schools?

The Call for Quality Schools comes from the OUSD Board’s Quality Schools Development Policy which passed in April of 2013.  See Board Policy 6005 updated August 27th, 2014 for the updated policy. See the policy’s Administrative Regulations V4.4 (rev 2/7/15) and Feb 11th Board Presentation (downloads file).


How were the five Intensive Support Schools identified?

Schools were selected by the Board of Education in April 2014.

Going forward schools will be selected based on administration regulations process.

Schools will be identified by a number of different metrics:

School Quality Review

Strategic Regional Analysis (large file download)

Strategic Regional Analysis (overview)

Balanced Scorecard

+ School Performance Framework (under development)

+ Student Performance Data

+ Site Utilization & Enrollment Projections

See slide 4 and page 21 Goal III Section B.


Which schools were selected?

The following five schools were selected by the Board of Education.  Click on each school for more information about academic and other information about each.

1. Brookfield

2. Castlemont

3. Fremont

4. Frick

5. McClymonds


What must be included in proposals for new school plans for Intensive Support Schools?

School sites, communities, and other providers are invited to submit proposals for new school plans that must include the following five “pillars.”

1. Educator Effectiveness Pipelines

2. Strong School Culture

3. Increased Time on Task

4. Rigorous Academics

5. Linked Learning/Personalized Learning

Each school also has district mandated site-specific criteria.

Click here for more information about the five Pillars.   Click here for the district’s research base.


Are schools provided with any supports to complete the proposals?

School sites are provided with $22,000 to support their creation of proposals. (See slide 11)


What if more than one proposal team forms at a school site?

If more that one team forms, the district will help facilitate a process to help them join.  Otherwise, supports will only be available to one team. (Letter from Allen Smith)


Once proposals are submitted who will evaluate them?

Site Based Committees (pg. 24) will evaluate them based on a rubric with these four categories:

+ School Culture

+ Leadership

+ Educational Program

+ Teaching

Site-based Committee rosters are available here.


How are stakeholders involved?

Here is an overview of the different bodies through which stakeholders are involved. (Spanish version)

Here is a graphic of the different bodies for community stakeholders and their roles in the process.


Who makes the final decision on which proposals are accepted?

The School Board makes the final decision. The Superintendent will make a final recommendation to the Board for approval based on feedback from the (1) School Site Based Committees and the (2) Academic Review Board.

Academic Review board composition for 2014-2016.  Click here for the explanation of academic review boards (pg. 24).


When does implementation begin for these plans?

There are two possible timelines.

Under Timeline I, after plans are selected, design teams enter the Program Development Planning Phase to prepare for school opening in the Fall of 2016.

Timeline II results in a new school opening in Fall 2017.

Four of the five schools are on Timeline I. Brookfield Elementary is on Timeline II.


Can charter schools submit a proposal?

Yes. As a condition of acceptance, charters must agree to participate in OUSD’s special education programs, abide by the same discipline policies as OUSD schools, and participate in OUSD’s options process.

Click here for the district’s explanation of why charter’s are involved in the Call (pg. 3)

Update: No charter school proposals have been submitted for any schools on Timeline I.


Does the Call for Quality Schools mean that charter schools are taking over?

Charter schools may submit proposals for quality school plans for any school.

Charter schools in this process must still be approved by the Board of Education.


Is what’s happening here similar to what Superintendent Wilson implemented in Denver schools?

Superintendent Wilson was an assistant superintendent in Denver where he worked specifically with turnaround schools.  In Denver they followed a similar intensive schools and Call for Quality Schools process for consecutive years.

See the Denver Public Schools’ website for their version of the Call for Quality Schools.


Does the Call for Quality Schools process relate to contract negotiations with the teacher’s union?

Article 12, which deals with teacher tenure and reassignment, & Article 27, which regulates school governance freedoms, both impact the Call for Quality Schools Process.

Click these links for the district’s package proposal in bargaining, the union’s most recent bargaining updates, and current contract language.


Important Websites:


http://qualitycommunityschools.weebly.com/proposal-teams-iss.html (regularly updated)


Two Ways You Can Be Involved in Oakland Education Policy

limegreenbubbleA new year and lots of new things happening in Oakland Unified! Two opportunities happening NOW will shape district policy for the foreseeable future. Whatever you think about these issues, let your voice be heard.

1. Oakland Education Association Forum on Article 12

Tuesday, January 13 at Westlake Middle School (2629 Harrison Street) from 4:00-6:00. Under discussion are potential changes to Article 12 (assignment transfer, seniority rights, mutual match). Please come to learn and share your experience!

2. Oakland Unified School District Strategic Plan Committees

Apply by January 15.  Superintendent Wilson is seeking wide representation from Oakland teachers and community members to serve on committees to turn his Pathway to Excellence plan into a reality.  Three committees are forming:

  • Effective Talent Programs
  • Accountable School District
  • Quality Community Schools

The Letter of Interest (application) is short and the commitment if you are chosen will be 10 meetings over a 6 month period.

Make this the year you share your knowledge outside the classroom!


Superintendent Wilson Was Wondering What You Thought About _________.

Disclaimer: I am a bit of a fangirl for Antwan Wilson. I have been nothing but impressed with his ideas for district improvement, communication with teachers and learner’s mindset about Oakland’s unique landscape.

Whether you agree with my assessment of the superintendent or not, what we can all agree on is the importance of getting wide representation on the Superintendent’s Strategic Plan Committees. In order to “ensure that all students find joy in their academic experience while graduating with the skills needed to succeed”, Superintendent Wilson has announced the formation of three committees aligned with each of the core priorities outlined in Pathway to Excellence: 2015-202

– Effective Talent Programs
– Accountable School District
– Quality Community Schools

I’m into it. I think it’s an excellent opportunity for teachers (and other stakeholders) to inform district policy decisions based on the daily feedback loop of the classroom and years of collective experience with varying administrative rules and priorities. See–isn’t Superintendent Wilson great?

If you’re interested in sharing your ideas about how our schools can be better, complete a Letter of Interest (it’s a quick application). I hope fangirls/boys, skeptics, cynics, idealists, newbies and veterans will all find their place around the table to contribute to making the Strategic Plan a lived reality in our schools.

Ten Reasons to Stay Teaching in Oakland


Summer is coming to an end, and the teacher nightmares are beginning. You know, the terrifying dreams where you have nothing planned or prepared for class and you’ve forgotten everything you know about being with students?

With the endless Sturm und Drang that comes with the start of a new year, it’s a great time to remind ourselves of all the reasons we stay teaching in Oakland.

I posed the question to my teacher friends around Oakland: With all the challenges and frustrations, why do YOU stay teaching in Oakland? Here’s what they said.

I appreciate the community I teach in. I’ve built strong bonds with many families and feel loyal and committed to the community. I know that I could teach somewhere else, but I truly feel passionate about giving students stability and consistency (like so many suburban schools have) by returning to the same school.     -Candice F. (15 years teaching)

It is one of those places…where the powers invest little because they expect little. My hope is to teach people skills they can use to create their own solutions to meet their needs.     -Ron M. (16 years teaching)

I stay teaching in Oakland for many reasons. I think my social conscience and my need to support the community and those in need is the main reason. I feel anger at the way society treats our children and feel I can help them navigate a really [screwed] up system.    -Stan L. (31 years teaching)

I have an opportunity to teach students one of the most important skills in life: reading.                -Devon M. (5 years teaching)

Like all Oakland teachers, I stay for the role I have the privilege to play in the lives of Oakland students – young people who are too often born into a reality they don’t deserve and who want to create a new reality of their own choosing. I stay for the privilege of working with incredibly talented, passionate, and supportive educators who inspire me to push through the challenges of this work. I stay for the excellent professional development I have received through programs like EDDA and the Teacher Leader Collaborative. I stay because Oakland kids are “hella” funny! I stay because in Oakland, there is no limit to how much I can grow and learn as a professional in this field.     -Lisa R. (5 years teaching)

The youth I serve are incredibly powerful, yet in a system that is inequitable, one that does not fully see them. I stay because I have a commitment to be an educator who uses my knowledge of the system to teach my students to know and access the tools they need, and to create a classroom that teaches the relevance of those tools while my students also experience the power of their stories and voices. The goal is that they experience their value, are self-empowered and equipped to use their voices for change.     -Maha N. (5 years teaching)

The kids are magical, and I get to create ambitious curriculum on their behalf. It’s not always easy, but it is always rewarding.     -Carlos C. (25 years teaching)

I stay teaching in Oakland for purely selfish reasons: I love my job! Working with Oakland students is both thoroughly fulfilling AND completely fun. It is a pleasure to take kids on a thrilling learning journey to a magical place of new knowledge.     -Christi C. (13 years teaching)

I love my co-workers and students. It never occurred to me to look for a new school or district because I feel at home in my position.     -Shelley G. (1 year teaching)

I stay teaching in Oakland because it it where good teachers are needed most. I never have to wonder if there’s someplace I would be helping out more. I’m from Oakland, so I’m not just “giving back”, I’m relating. Their issues are my issues.     -Marva M. (21 years teaching)

For these reasons, and so many more, we stay teaching in Oakland.

Why do YOU stay?