Thursday, December 11, 2014

OEA Bargaining Update - November 17, 2014

OEA Bargaining Update

November 17, 2014

On Monday, November 17, 2014, the OEA and OUSD bargaining teams met. Your OEA team presented OUSD with counter proposals in response to the package of proposals received on 11/06/14. Where the District moved towards our positions, we responded with counter proposals.  Where they did not move, we did not move. 

This is how the collective bargaining process works:

Your OEA Bargaining Team reached out to members to learn what supports/conditions were needed to improve student social-emotional and academic outcomes, the members' professional development needs, and what will attract and retain career educators in Oakland. We crafted our Sunshine (initial) Proposal with your feedback as a guide.  While our proposals are not an exhaustive list of changes that should be made to current contract language, we felt that we were communicating many changes that would improve teaching and learning in Oakland schools. We also kept in mind that all components of our initial proposal may not be won because of financial and legislative constraints.

Through your efforts and those of our supporters in the community, the district has agreed to accelerate class size reduction in grades TK-3, improved its salary offer (which still not fully adequate), and actually put money behind their proposal to increase the work day for teachers minimum days, which represents a significant improvement to where they were six months ago.

The district will have received over $50Mil in unrestricted monies over the course of 2013-2016. While we think there are still more financial resources than they have put on the table, we must keep in mind that there is still not enough to cover the costs of everything we have asked them to do.  However, with your continued support, we can win further gains for Oakland's students and schools.

Please follow the link below to read a summary of OEA's and OUSD's most recent proposals. Your OEA Bargaining team's proposal is in bold.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A New Giving Project for the OEA - Unaccompanied Minors

A New Giving Project for the OEA - Unaccompanied Minors

This year, we are reaching out to welcome the over 200 unaccompanied immigrant youths now attending Oakland Public Schools. They face many challenges. We can help.

Please donate a $20.00 gift card from stores that have a variety of items to meet individual tastes and needs. (i.e. Safeway, Target, Walgreens)

If you'd like to donate a different amount, please give cash to your OEA Rep and OEA will use it to buy cards.

Toys and gift cards may be dropped off at the OEA office through Dec. 15.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

OEA November 2014 Bargaining Update


On Thursday November 6th, 2014 the OEA and OUSD bargaining teams met. As promised, the OUSD team presented OEA with a comprehensive proposal intended to move parties closer to settlement. The OUSD team shared that they reflected what they heard as important to OEA members, assertively addressed what is important to the district, and considered the overall context of fiscal responsibility when creating these proposals.

Your OEA bargaining team acknowledges that these proposals represent significant movement on the part of the district. The organizing and mobilizing efforts of OEA members has been and will continue to be critical in impacting what is happening at the table. While seeing movement in compensation, movement away from extending the workday without a reflection in compensation, and a commitment to lower class sizes is encouraging, not addressing caseloads/class sizes in Programs for Exceptional Children nor counselor ratios ignores our attempt for more equitable conditions for students and members. The district's proposals regarding Assignment/Transfer/Vacancy/Consolidation Policy and school site flexibility foreshadows an on-going struggle over agreement on what is most impactful: supports and resources or perpetuating the "bad teacher" narrative.

Please follow the link below to read a summary of the district's most recent proposals.


Enroll Now! Disability Insurance No Check for Pre-existing Conditions!

Enroll Now! Disability InsuranceNo Check for Pre-existing Conditions!


How would you pay your bills if you were unable to work due to a disability?

CTA approved provider, The Standard, is conducting a campaign to sign up 220 OEA members before the end of the year.

This is excellent coverage at an excellent price for both new teachers (who might be or become pregnant or who do not have enough time invested in STRS to get retirement benefits) and veteran teachers (who are more likely to have pre-existing conditions that would prevent them from being approved in another plan as an individual).

If we get 220 members to sign up, everyone will be accepted into the program WITH NO PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS QUESTIONAIRRE.

OEA, as an organization, does not receive anything from Standard to promote this campaign. It is a valuable MEMBER BENEFIT that we urge all to learn about and consider.

Go to the Web Page to find out more.

Or read the flyer.

Have You Registered For OEA Financial Workshops?

Mosher Financial Group is conducting a series of financial workshops, helping school employees retire well.

Workshops are free and everyone is welcome
Mosher Financial Group a preferred provider of the OEA
All workshops are from
4:30 PM to 6:00 PM
at the OEA office 272 East 12th Street
(at 3rd Avenue)

To RSVP, or for more information:
Call (415) 681‐2000, email
info@mosherϐ, or
visit www.mosherϐ

Alameda Labor Council Food Bank

Go HERE for more information 
Go HERE to download the flyer

Food and Fund Drives

Alameda County Community Food Bank serves 1 in 5 county residents. Food & Fund Drives are a vital resource for our neighbors facing hunger.

Hosting a big red barrel (or two) in your office building, school, religious organization, etc. is the perfect way for co-workers, friends and family to be directly involved in the Food Bank’s mission. Sign up and get started now!

Or start a Virtual Food Drive and multiply your donation four-fold by doing our shopping for us.



The mother of three Sankofa students was murdered in a road rage incident. Perla Evelyn Aviña Anaya Lopez's funeral was last week. Many generous individuals have come forth to donate to the family. While the amount is heartwarming, we need to continue to support the family emotionally as well as financially. Please donate here.

In Memory of Pamela Reed

In Memory of Pamela Reed

Pam Reed, OUSD Counselor, recently passed away. In her memory, family and coworkers ask that you honor her work by donating to the Marcus Foster Scholarship Fund through OEA.

Details here.

Monday, October 20, 2014



click here



KARL DEBRO, District 4


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


In a stunning move of backwards bargaining, on October 14, the OUSD Bargaining Team slashed its $5.15 million increase to the salary schedule for 2014-15 to $3.8 million.

Your OEA Bargaining Team will reject this regressive move by the District, but they will only be able to banish it from consideration because the district knows that


Show OUSD your displeasure and your OEA Bargaining Team your support. 



Wednesday, October 15

4:00 TO 5:00


Join your colleagues, parents, and students to support a settled and fair contract!

Choose the location most convenient to you: 

51st Street and Broadway
35th Avenue and MacArthur
98th Avenue and International

Splashpad across from the Grand Lake Theatre
Thornhill and Mountain
7th Street and Market





Oakland High School

If there is no significant movement, what is next?

From the Bargaining Table-

to Impasse-

to Fact Finding-

to Strike -

What every member needs to know. 

Spread the word..... 

It bears repeating: 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

OEA Bargaining Update

You have the right to remain silent.

But if you use it too much....

We will never get the contract we deserve.

Will Your Site Have a Voice?

Copy OEA endorsed candidates to your Facebook picture until the election!

To win a contract or election against money power takes people power. We have examples from all over the country that extraordinary people power wins over extraordinary money power, every time. But not in the absence of an extra-ordinary effort by the people.

That is why I am asking you, who have already given much, to step up a little more this month. It is not the minimum you are willing that will lead us to victory, but the maximum you are able.

Let your OEA Rep know what you are willing to do. Can you do 2?

Make sure you have an ELECTED Rep attend the Rep Council at Bret Harte on 10/6 at 4:00. Without a form, they will not be able to vote on the OEA's position on Measure N. Forms have been sent several times, but even a statement signed by two witnesses will be accepted.

Read last week's mailing for arguments in Support, Neutral, or Opposed to N. Make sure your Site Rep is clear on your position.

Thank you for all you do for Oakland's children.

It's your decision. Should OEA Support, Oppose, or be Neutral on MEASURE N?

The OEA Representative Council will take a position on the parcel tax on October 6. Your OEA Rep should reflect the will of the staff on this very important topic. Please read all of the arguments below and discuss with your colleagues and come to a collective agreement.


1. Measure N is big enough to make a real difference in graduation rates. This matters. It will generate approximately $13 million a year for high schools. That's about $1000 for every high school student. That is enough money to improve in the educational experience of our students and the working conditions of our high school teachers. 

2. This money will not be wasted on high paid central office positions. By law, at least 90% of the money goes to school site budgets. 
3. This is not a once size fits all top down reform initiative. Every high school gets to develop its own plan for the use of the funds. 
4. Fights the narrow test score obsession dominating our national conversation about school reform. Schools will need to demonstrate that their use of these funds contributes to higher and more equitable graduation rates and post secondary enrollment rates, not changes in test scores. These are much more holistic ways of assessing high schools are truly meeting students' needs or not. In this day and age, this is a rare chance to increase funding to our schools without signing onto the dominant narratives regarding testing. 


Money to fund programs and personnel for our high schools is critically needed.

But the Oakland Education Association should not support Measure N.

Measure N will provide the opportunity for some charter schools to receive money from the parcel tax.

But the Oakland Education Association should not oppose Measure N.

What faces OEA is the promotion of an opportunity to receive more revenue vs. telling the public that teachers reject more revenue because some of it may go to Oakland children attending charter schools.

To say yes might imply that the OEA no longer feels the charter school movement advances the privatization of our public school systems.

To say no might be perceived by the public at large that Oakland educators don't care about money to help students, only money to help raise salaries.

While the above seems a dizzying ping pong game of on the one hand, on the other hand, the implications of taking a support or oppose position has serious implications for the OEA as an organization and its standing in the community.


The only chance for defeating Measure N is for OEA to inform the public that the consequences of its passage will be the closing of District high schools.
Measure N, the Oakland School Board's 10 year parcel tax, will advance the privatization of Oakland's public school by providing multimillion-dollars that attract charter school operators to locate to Oakland where additional charters will lower the District's high school enrollment, pressuring the closing of District high schools, and resulting in the elimination of our members' jobs.
Currently there are almost as many OUSD authorized charter high schools (11) as OUSD high schools (15) that will be eligible to apply for a portion of the approximately $20 million Measure N parcel tax funding.
The School Board is saying to charters here are millions available if you locate in Oakland; we've shown you the money, now come and get it, charter operators.
 A likely outcome of Oakland School Board multimillion-dollar incentive for Oakland charter high school growth is, that over Measure N's ten years, the number of District high schools being funded by Measure N will shrink below the funding received by School Board authorized charter schools.


OEA members signed up to pass out flyers about bargaining and the School Board elections to parents of another school at BTSNs happening this month. Almost 30 have already committed. Ask your friends around the district if they could come to your school or would like you to come to theirs to pass out OEA information to parents on Back to School Night. It takes less than an hour, it builds solidarity, and it's fun.

If you missed the evening event, you can still pass out the flyers before and after school!

There are plenty of flyers at OEA for you to pick up. For masters of the flyers in English and Spanish click here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Kindergarten Measure, AB 1444 - CTA Legislative Alert - Immediate Action Needed!


Re: Mandatory Kindergarten Measure, AB 1444

TAKE ACTION: Call or fax Gov. Jerry Brown and urge him to sign AB 1444 (Buchanan/Weber) that would require completion of kindergarten as a prerequisite to first grade enrollment.

Call the governor's office at 916-445-2841. Press 1 for English; press 4 to speak with a representative of the governor. Only calls made between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. will be answered. There is no message-recording device for leaving messages prior to 9:00 a.m. and after 5:00 p.m. Support letters or brief notes should contain the bill number, your name and address. Fax letters and notes to the governor at 916-558-3160.

Key message: CTA believes in providing students with a quality education beginning the very moment they get to our schools. Mandatory kindergarten before first grade will help build the critical skills for student success.

CTA sponsored AB 1444 because kindergarten provides students with that much-needed, early learning that prepares them to succeed throughout their academic careers. Studies show students from lower socio-economic circumstances do better when they attend kindergarten.

Visit for more information.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Your OEA Reps in Denver June 30 - July 6 2014

National Education Association Representative Assembly

June 30-July 6 2014

Atlanta, Georgia

Running for national offices, leading on key issues, speaking for Oakland: Your OEA Reps in Denver

Proud to be part of the largest democratically elected deliberative body in the world!

Back Row: Steve Miyamoto, Jim Mordecai, Keith Brown, Kei Swensen, Linda Grayson, Janet Lau, Anne Arbogast, Rodney Brown, Bill Balderston, Tania Kappner

Front Row: Mark Airgood, Jawwei Wang, Mary Prophet, Manny Lopez,Trish Gorham, Betty Olson-Jones

State Increases STRS Employee Contribution

State Increases STRS Employee Contribution

Click HERE for CTA informational summary 

Click HERE for CTA website information

Two of our OEA Teachers need your help!

Members Supporting Members

The OEA is often contacted by members with requests outside of the union's ability to meet. Requests from your fellow members will be posted with the hope that, individually or collectively, assistance can be given.

Two of our OEA Teachers need your help!

Substitute teacher, after months of rehabilitation from spinal cord injury, needs donations to begin again. Please read  Derrick's gofundmeaccount.

One of our members is looking for a place to rent beginning September 1. The house they were renting is being suddenly sold. They are  looking for an apartment, small house or loft. A guest bedroom or cabin would be much appreciated. They are quiet and responsible. Please check your august 12, 21014 OEA constant contact email for specific contact information.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

OUSD Security Breach

The following letter was sent to all employees at their OUSD email Friday. An autodial message is going out today.

It really is beyond belief that sensitive material would be left lying in an unsecured building. While OUSD is frantically closing the barnyard door, please be proactive in notifying your creditors and monitoring your accounts. The district outlines its actions and suggested ones for you to follow after the letter.

Dear OUSD Parents, Staff, and Community,

The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) values our students, employees, and families and protecting their confidential information is important to us. So, it’s with regret that we inform you of an incident that has compromised personal information belonging to some of our major stakeholders. This is unacceptable. We apologize for this mistake and are taking strong corrective action to address it and prevent a recurrence. In the meantime, we’d like to explain what happened, the implications for OUSD, and the remedies we’re offering for anyone who might have been affected.

We recently learned that a number of OUSD employees had their identities compromised, likely because unsecured documents were obtained from the old administration building at 1025 Second Avenue, a site that is no longer in use. Specifically, five employees of OUSD’s Facilities Department presented evidence suggesting their private information was accessed and used improperly by other parties.

At this point, the impact appears to be contained in the Facilities Department and there is no evidence of widespread identity theft affecting students or staff.

As a precaution, OUSD is extending credit protection services to present and past employees, extending back for a period of years that will be determined in the coming week. On behalf of our employees, we have secured two years of identity protection services and benefits from Identity Fraud, Inc. (IFI), the preferred provider of identity protection solutions to National Education Association (NEA) members. We discuss the benefits of the service later in this letter, but we’re taking this step to better safeguard personal information and to avert any further issues.

We’ve also put in place additional measures to secure the site and the documents within by:

collecting all documents within 1025 Second Avenue and preparing them for transport to a secure and safe facility by Monday, July 14
retaining around-the-clock security for 1025 Second Avenue until the move is completed
developing a document management policy that provides for safe custodianship of documents on a day-to-day basis and in case of a catastrophic event like the one that occurred at 1025 Second Avenue
Contrary to a media report, student records were not compromised. The only documents related to students that remained in the building were financial documents for a small number of students who served as District interns. OUSD does not collect or retain social security numbers for students except in the case of paid student interns, as is required by tax law. Any current or former students in this category will be contacted and provided the same relief OUSD is offering staff.

In the meantime, we want to provide more context around the circumstances related to the suspected identify theft. In January 2013, a flood forced the temporary closure of 1025 Second Avenue. All OUSD departments housed within were moved to other OUSD properties while the viability of the headquarters building was assessed and eventually declared unfit for further use.

Since the day after the flood, efforts have been made to remove equipment and files from 1025 Second Ave, and place them in alternate locations. Despite much work in this area, many files—the product of eight decades of paperwork conducted at the site—remained, along with some supplies and equipment. Transport of the files has progressed more slowly than hoped. During this period, security measures have been taken to safeguard the property as a whole and the files within it. These measures include:

repeated boarding and bolting of doors and windows
the installation and repeated repair of a chain link fence surrounding the property
use of sensors and security systems to deter entry into the building
periodic sweeps of the premises by Oakland School Police
Despite preventive efforts, squatters have thwarted security measures and gained access to the building. Buildings and Grounds (B&G) employees have returned to the site numerous times to address security breeches. After one of the most recent incidents, in mid-June, several B&G employees discovered files with employee social security numbers present.

Subsequent to this discovery, five Buildings and Grounds employees reported that their identities or financial accounts had been compromised. OUSD has hired a private investigator to interview the relevant parties and gain greater clarity on what occurred; that investigation is ongoing. We understand the importance of privacy with regard to information and are in the process of assessing district practices to ensure integrity in our storage of important records. I learned all of this information this week and immediately asked staff to secure all records. We are in the process of removing all documents from the premises. The building will be monitored by 24-hour security until we can be assured of the removal of all sensitive records by early next week.

I ask that you read on for more information about the credit protection service described in this letter. We will send a direct communication offering further guidance to those people we’ve identified as being in a potentially affected group by Friday, July 18. In the meantime, we deeply apologize for the anxiety caused by this situation and pledge to remedy not only this problem, but also its root causes in our efforts to prioritize the safety, well-being, and confidence of our students, employees, and families.


Antwan Wilson


Information about Fraud Protection and Identity Fraud, Inc.

On behalf of our employees, we are securing two years of identity protection services and benefits from Identity Fraud, Inc. (IFI), the preferred provider of identity protection solutions to National Education Association (NEA) members.

The benefits include:

unlimited access to an IFI hotline for questions and assistance
$25,000 of identity insurance per year with a $0.00 deductible
fraud prevention resources and tools
unlimited access to fraud resolution specialists to help resolve any type of identity theft, whether arising from this incident or from unrelated events
We will send another communication next week with specific details on the fraud prevention hotline and website for OUSD employees. In the meantime, please know that if you are concerned about identity theft, you can have a free, 90-day fraud alert placed on your credit file. This lets potential creditors and others know that you may be a victim of identity theft. A fraud alert can make it more difficult for someone to get credit in your name because it tells creditors to follow certain procedures that will protect you. It may also, however, delay your ability to obtain credit.

You may place a fraud alert in your file by calling any one of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies or by requesting a fraud alert online. As soon as the agency processes your fraud alert, it will notify the other two, which then must also place fraud alerts in your file.

Equifax: 1-800-525-6285;

Experian: 1-888-397-3742;

TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289;

Under current law, you are already allowed one free copy of your credit report per year from any one of the three agencies listed above. If you have not already reviewed your credit report this year, it is a good idea to do so. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act provides for anyone residing in the United States and its possessions to receive three free credit reports a year Through the site, or by phoning the toll-free number at 1-877-322-8228, you can get one report each year from each of the three major credit reporting companies—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. If you have not already reviewed your credit report this year, it is a good idea to do so.

Some indicators of identity theft are: (a) Charges on your accounts that you did not authorize; (b) You are denied credit due to poor credit ratings, despite good credit history; (c) You are contacted by creditors regarding amounts owed for goods or services that you never authorized; (d) Your credit card and bank statements are not received in the mail as expected; and (e) A new or renewed credit card is not received. If you suspect that you are the victim of identity theft, you should immediately contact the police and the fraud departments of the three major credit reporting bureaus to place fraud alerts on your credit file.

We will continue to keep you updated on developments in this incident and methods you can take to protect your identity. We deeply apologize for the inconvenience this represents.

Troy Flint
Director of Communications | Communications Department
Oakland Unified School District (OUSD)
Suite 680, 1000 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607-4099
Phone: (510) 473-5832
Community Schools, Thriving Students
Escuelas Comunitarias, Estudiantes Progresando

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

OEA Executive Board Vacancy

Submit a  Declaration of Candidacy Form for OEA First Vice President

Site Reps will fill the Interim Seat for 1st VP by vote at the 2/3/14 Council Mtg.

Martin Luther King Jr. Talks about the Labor Movement

"The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old-age pensions, government relief for the destitute and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they resisted it until they were overcome. When in the thirties the wave of union organization crested over the nation, it carried to secure shores not only itself but the whole society."
—Speech to the state convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO, Oct. 7, 1965

Read more HERE


CTA Press Release on Governor Brown's CA

Budget Proposal.

More State Educational News

CA State Budget


Superintendent Yee presented a budget process on 1/15/14. The OEA supports Dr. Yee's recommendation to pay for allocated teachers centrally and to base funding on enrollment, not ADA. (Something the State should do.)

Trish Gorham's statement to School Board on RBB.

Oakland Local Article on 1/15/14 School Board Meeting.


CTA offers several scholarships for Members and Dependents. Most are due early February.
Application info here.

Questions to share your story at the school board meeting and with the community.

The OEA Sunshine Proposal was generated using input from hundreds of members at dozens of sites. We asked our members three questions. Their answers to these central questions form the basis for our proposal.

Use these questions to share your story at the school board meeting and with the community:

 1. What are the most important things needed to improve students' academic and social/emotional outcomes?
2. What are the most important things you need to develop as a professional educator?
3. What are the factors that might prevent you from remaining as a career educator in Oakland?

Educators need our voices heard and our judgment respected. Recognition of and support for our efforts must be at the core of the way OUSD functions.We believe local school communities know what their specific strengths and weaknesses are and should have a substantial say in identifying and selecting training topics and providers.

We know that quality instruction requires regularly scheduled time, within the work day, to process new ideas, prepare lessons, and reflect on how to integrate them. A well-rounded education, including the arts and physical education, should be provided for all students. One goal is to increase opportunities by enhancing the offerings within the student day.

A greater investment is needed at the school sites to keep class sizes low and provide support and services for struggling students.

Oakland students need the reality of full service community schools, not just its rhetoric. They need on site counseling and psychological services provided by professionals with the appropriate state credentials at every site. They need up to date technology and certificated staff who know how to integrate it into meaningful learning experiences. Budgets are statements of priorities.

Oakland students need education professionals at all levels for whom the decision to make a career helping Oakland's children is not also a decision to sacrifice their financial well-being. OUSD can provide the employees of Oakland with salaries that are competitive with other Bay Area districts. We need to attract and retain educators who will make Oakland students their life's work instead of a training ground for other, higher paying Districts.

Your OEA Bargaining Team is counting on you to have their backs on JANUARY 29 as they present your interests for a new contract.

A FAQ will be included in the next email.

Submit any questions to: 

In Unity,

Kei Swensen, Chair                Sankofa
Steve Randall                         Lafayette
Kathleen Byrnes                     Cleveland
Jennifer Formosa                   Thornhill
Vincent Tolliver                       Skyline
Doug Appel                             CTA Staff

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A moment of silence, please

In Memorium

Lee Weathersby III

Oakland's first murder victim of 2014 was 13 year old Lee Weathersby III, a student at Alliance. As his Memorial service takes place at 9:45 am, January 8, in the Alliance auditorium, friends and family are asking that you pause your lessons and have a minute of silence. Not just for Lee, but for all the victims of senseless violence past, present, and future.

The members of the Oakland Education Association send our deepest sympathy to Lee's family. OEA Representative Council on 1/6/14 was adjourned in his memory.


OUSD New Years Resolutions

OUSD Resolutions for the New Year:

-Pay OEA members .05% money owed;

-Ensure public access to 1000 Broadway;

-Full transparency and engagement in LCFF and LCAP decisions;

-Maintain commitment to limit class sizes in Special Ed;

-Rid the District of the failures in Results Based Budgetting

which reward inequity and instability.

Add your own suggestions for OUSD Resolutions in 2014!

Messsage fro OEA President Trish Gorham


Will your resolutions for 2014 include ones that will strengthen your professional standing, earn you the professional respect you deserve, give you the materials and support to accomplish your professional goals, and compensate you at your professional worth (or at least closer to it)? In Unity there is Strength. Your actions last year DID make the District take notice and DID help your Bargaining Team achieve most of their strategic goals. And your resolutions should include continuing and increasing involvement in OEA activities to further those goals.

We will end 2013 with a reminder to OUSD Administration and School Board Directors that we will hold them accountable for promises made to our members and to the community. What do you think OUSD needs to be reminded of? Come and tell your resolutions for them.

In Solidarity,
Trish Gorham, President
Oakland Education Association

Monday, January 6, 2014

Read OEA's Proposals for the new Contract

Please read the Prologue to better understand how the contract proposals  place us ethically and strategically as advocates for the conditions that produce the stability and support necessary for student success and teacher recruitment and retention.


HOLD a site meeting on Monday, January 6, after student dismissal to discuss the contract proposals.

SEND a representative to the OEA Representative Council on January 6 to Bret Harte Middle School at 4:30.

SAVE January 29, 5:30-6:30 to support your OEA Bargaining Team as they present the proposal to the OUSD School Board.

California Teachers Association's new Strategic Plan

The California Teachers Association has drafted a new Strategic Plan. This is a process that has taken a year to create and members are invited to comment on the document that will be voted on by State Council at the end of January. See side bar.

CTA Strategic Plan

How CTA will serve members and advance our issues. Will be voted on by CTA State Council on 1/26/13.

On January 7 CTA will conduct a member-wide Town Hall on the Strategic Plan.

Superintendent Search

What do you want to see in OUSD's new Superintendent? A survey will inform the search process. Encourage parents to take the survey, also!

School Site Governance Policy

Since September, a group has been working with Urban Strategies to create the regulations guiding the School Site Governance Policy. The committee is now asking for comment on the draft so far. I have been part of the group and while I have objected to certain aspects, some of which have been amended or removed, I have found the process authentic. But it is imperative that members give their perspective. Most concerning to me is the peppering of the phrase "accelerated learning" in the document. Please review and comment. You have all of January to do so.

School Governance

A committee has met since September to create regulations based on School Board Policy on Site Governance.


Phone messages and emails will be answered within 24 hours.

The OEA Center was to have its carpet replaced over the break. The demolition revealed problems that have to be dealt with, delaying the completion. Linda and I will be working outside of the office. Email and phones messages will be monitored closely and responded to promptly. You can call the CTA RRC at 510-536-5850 if you have an immediate emergency.

Thank you for your patience.

What's Out, What's In: 2014 Education Edition

Since "Out" and "In" lists are in favor as the calendar flips, here are my nominees for what should be "Out" and "In" in education for 2014:
OUT: School Reform
IN: Transformed Teaching and Learning
"School Reform" as a phrase has all the charm of Nurse Ratched entering the room with a giant hypodermic needle. The assumption is that all the patients are equally sick, and rather than healing them with effective treatments designed for their specific illnesses, the medicine is total punishment applied in equal doses across-the-boards.
Changing the rhetoric, tone and style of the school reform debate might actually lead to progress in the genuine transformation of teaching and learning. Yes, change is needed, but not the same change in every school, and never a kind of change that punishes the teaching staff for the inability of students to perform according to someone else's idea of learning on standardized tests.
A focus on transforming teaching and learning to improve student achievement would start with a serious assessment of what causes learning breakdowns in specific schools, neighborhoods and systems. Sure, some teachers should find other occupations, but the wholesale assault on teachers over the last decade has completely ignored the profoundly serious, deeply entrenched problems of poverty, broken families, parental illiteracy, and, in some cases, actual hostility to educational achievement in some corners of society.
The first step in changing the rhetoric should be a long silence on the part of all the people who are telling educators what to do so that the people who are actually engaged with teaching and learning can be heard about what works and why even some of the best efforts fail.
OUT: Poverty is "An Excuse"
IN: Addressing Poverty's Effects on Student Learning
One of the worst characteristics of some leaders in the school reform movement is their tendency to trash any other point of view. Reformers from Arne Duncan to Michelle Rheeand others have dismissively claimed that poverty is "an excuse" for educational failure. They're just plain wrong. Poverty is not an excuse but an absolute condition of life that, left unaddressed or diminished as a problem, debilitates the student's ability to learn.
No effort to improve educational results in the poorest neighborhoods in our cities will ever be complete without a comprehensive program to address the specific effects of poverty on student learning abilities -- the conditions of hunger, violence, neglect, parental illiteracy, homelessness, chronic illness and constant fear that students carry with them to school each day.
School reformers would certainly get a lot more traction if they acknowledged the problem of poverty in education and used some of their considerable clout to put poverty higher on the political agenda. Bill and Melinda Gates are doing heroic work fighting malaria in Africa, but in America, their resources are mostly going to school reform efforts that wind up firing teachers. Just sayin'!
OUT: Common Core
IN: Common Sense
Transforming teaching and learning should certainly occur according to commonly accepted standards for what students need to know and be able to do. As a general concept,the Common Core standards are a well-intentioned effort to establish precisely those kinds of societal norms for learning that will ensure that every diploma signifies some basic level of academic achievement.
Unfortunately, the politicization of curriculum through imposition of the Common Corestandards with little or no local input, and tied to standardized testing, has undermined the worthy goals of the effort.
In place of the politicized Common Core, may I be so bold as to urge some common sense in the educational content discussion. As a college president, I could write a treatise on all the things that I wish my students actually knew when they arrived on campus. But realizing that attention spans are short at this time of year, here are my top three:
• Every student should arrive in college able to read an entire book and to discuss the book coherently both orally and in writing.
• Every first year college student should be able to write a multi-page paper expressing ideas on a given topic organized and synthesized from classroom instruction and outside readings, with accurate grammar and punctuation, and no plagiarism.
• Every college freshman should be able to perform basic arithmetic functions and prepared to learn the higher level mathematics required of most majors for quantitative analysis and research.
Ok, I'm sure the faculty have many, many more, but wouldn't it be great that instead of the cacophony of controversy over the Common Core we could simply have some common sense about what students need to know.
OUT: Disruption
IN: Stability
I'm not sure who came up with the idea that "disruption" is the most cherished educational value. Actually, I have a clue: people with a vested economic outcome in disruption promote the concept heavily. It's no surprise that Silicon Valley titans are among the most vocal advocates of disruption in higher education, with their new companies like edX andCoursera and Udacity ready to sweep in to help the blind-sided universities.
Certainly, change and growth is important, and adaptation to new technologies and new populations of students is essential. But "disruption" implies a complete paradigm shift, a break with the fundamental elements of effective education as we have known it, e.g., classroom-based learning, the primacy of the teacher, the critical importance of student identification with a place (a school, a campus, a set of traditions) as a motivator for learning and lifelong intellectual satisfaction.
In place of long-term intellectual development, the "disruption" movement substitutes instant acquisition of utilitarian knowledge, a disposable commodity that is almost immediately obsolete. "Disruption" for its own sake is plain old anarchy, with no durable value other than to be able to say that we were present at the Disruption.
IN: Student Engagement with Learning
The "disruption" crowd has hailed MOOCs -- massive open online courses -- as the cure for everything in higher education from the tuition to remediation to tenure. But MOOCsdevalue one of the most important dimensions of effective college teaching and learning -- the active engagement of the student with the instructor over a sustained period of time.
Putting several hundred thousand students in front of computer screens for classes taught by professors they will never meet seems like an odd way to promote improvement in higher education at a time when we're also told to accept more and more under-prepared students who need even more "facetime" to become engaged with learning.
OUT: Federal Ratings of Universities
IN: More Useful Higher Education Assessment
The proposed new regulatory scheme to rate colleges and universities according to some massive number-crunching exercise is unlikely to achieve any effective results. While generating considerable opposition and comparisons to the healthcare boondoggle, we have little reason to hope that Secretary Duncan will actually listen to the critics (whom he has deemed "silly") and amend his proposal. But like so many other regulatory impositions by the U.S. Department of Education, this one will most likely be implemented and then stand by as another example of costly-but-misguided federal rules for colleges (Net Price Calculators, anyone?)
Many colleges and universities are already providing considerably more data and information than ever before to prospective students and families, and most institutions are more than eager to share information that makes sense. We remain challenged to find ways to make more granular assessment data publicly available; accreditation reports have an overwhelming amount of data that most people would find too dense to absorb. Finding a way to communicate results even more effectively, but without federal intervention, must be a high priority for higher education in 2014.
OUT: Monologues About Educational Failure
IN: Dialogues About Effective Innovation
2014 must be the year for changing the conversation about education -- higher ed, K-12, pre-K, online, on the ground, wherever students and teachers gather to engage the oldest of humanity's intellectual conversations. Too much of the educational rhetoric in 2013 consisted of politicians, philanthropists, pundits and other self-appointed "reformers" denouncing the life's work of other people as a wholesale failure rather than engaging in a reasonably learned debate about innovation and transformation where change is actually necessary.
The rush to pass judgment before anyone even knows what problem we're trying to solve is one of the most grievous mistakes of the populist drive to "reform" education across-the-boards with no sensitivity to differential institutional missions, different socio-economic conditions of students, resources available to help teachers succeed, proof that proposed changes actually can work, and the engagement of students, parents and families in a broad-based discussion of their roles and responsibilities in educational success.
Let's make 2014 the year when we shift the public rhetoric from the incessant monologues about educational failure to more constructive dialogues about educational innovation, and yes, even the many success stories. America's vast educational landscape is actually plentiful with examples of success and great innovation -- reform will come more quickly if we lift up what works rather than continuing to beat up on what's broken.

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