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.

Follow Patricia McGuire on Twitter:

Five New Years Resolutions for Public Education Supporters | John Kuhn

Link to this post here.

The following post (originally published on the website Connected Superintendent) was written by John Kuhn, the Superintendent of the Perrin-Whitt Independent School District in Texas. He will be presenting a keynote address at the Network for Public Education 2014 National Conference on March 1& 2 at The University of Texas at Austin.

2013 was a pivotal year for parents, teachers and students who support a free public education for American children. In California, Governor Jerry Brown refused to over-test the state’s students to satisfy bureaucratic demands for data, even in the face of federal threats to withhold Title 1 education funding. In Seattle, Jesse Hagopian and fellow teachers at Garfield High refused to give the MAP standardized test; after facing down threats to their employment, the teachers saw the school district waive the MAP test as a graduation requirement. On the other side of the continent, students with the Providence Student Union in Rhode Island had adults take a NECAP test and released the results,zombie-protested, and generally gave the corporate reform movement fits. In Texas, an organization lovingly known as “Mothers Against Drunk Testing” formed and teamed up with a plethora of other public schools supporters to help pass HB 5, a law that reduced the number of standardized tests required for graduation from 15 to 5.

New York City voters replaced a mayor wallet-deep in the education reform movement with one who vowed not to give charter school operators preferential treatment. Indiana voters replaced state schools chief Tony Bennett (he of “anything less than an A” for a charter school owned by a prominent donor “compromises all of our accountability work”) with teacher of the year Glenda Ritz. Bennett then went on to a soft landing in Florida before bouncing to another soft landing advising the ACT on Common Core

Millionaire reformer (but I repeat myself) Colorado state representative Jared Polis called Diane Ravitch “evil” and then deleted the incriminating tweet. Meanwhile, Diane publishedanother New York Times bestseller laying out the case against the reform-bash-and-privatize movement. John Merrow unearthed a long-hidden memo that seemed to prove that Michelle Rhee knew about cheating on the DC public schools standardized tests that drove her ballyhooed merit pay system and yet did nothing about it. A number of statesdropped out of the Common Core testing consortia, and resistance to Common Core testing grew vocal in New York, where state superintendent John King was forced to go on a statewide listening tour after cancelling planned public hearings in the face of criticism of his policy choices and calling parents and teachers who had the audacity to disagree with him “special interests”. New York state principals banded together to advocate for public education, led by the indefatigable 2013 High School Principal of the Year Carol Burris.

The super-reformy school district declared by Frederick Hess as “the most interesting” school district in America did some really interesting things by paying Hess for a white paper just before the reform slate of school board candidates ran for re-election. The district released the glowing report via email blast to 85,000 local stakeholders just in time to inform opinions prior to the vote. A judge has declared that this was in violation of campaign laws. Interesting.

The Network for Public Education (disclaimer: I’m a supporter) came online in 2013, was immediately derided by reformers, and then promptly started seeing candidates it endorsed win elections they were supposed to lose. Like Monica Ratliff, for example, a teacher who was outspent 42-1 by an opponent supported by reform heavies from across the US in her successful campaign for a seat on the board in Los Angeles.

As for me, I published my own book about education reform in 2013, Test-and-Punish. I hope you’ll read it. It tells the story of how the punitive school reform movement got its start, and where we can go from here.

A number of other exciting developments unfolded in 2013, and I apologize for not listing them all. I’m sure I’ll miss some really big ones, but it’s time to turn our attention away from the old man and toward the chubby baby of 2014, who will toddle forth when the ball drops and gradually let us know what’s in store for education in the coming year.

Will the education reformers rebound from their numerous defeats this year? They still have the money, they still own the media and the US Department of Education, and they have fresh NAEP and PISA scores that “prove” whatever they want them to prove. (Tennessee and DC students showed major gains on NAEP, they enthuse, but then they conveniently forget to mention all the reform-friendly states that didn’t show gains at all. Asi es la vida.)

Will the Common Core be perceived by the masses as a sensible set of standards to guide instruction in 2014, or will progressives across America view it as another armament in the artillery trained on public education and teachers, while conservatives across the nation view it as a federal takeover of a traditional state responsibility and an attempt to brainwash the children?

Time will tell. In the meantime, I’d like to share 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Public Education Supporters.

1. Be active online, in the papers, and in your state capital. In the blogosphere, in the halls of your legislative bodies, in the letters-to-the-editor section, and during every single election, public education supporters can’t afford to sit back. Reform-friendly organizations dominate the media with press releases from ideological think tanks. They dominate vital elections with buckets of campaign money. They spin testing data any way it suits them. They are white-knuckled in their opposition to anything that might prevent them from reducing taxes, and public education as it has been traditionally provided is a huge culprit. They are likewise white-knuckled in their promotion of anything that might water down the cost of education, because this will reduce their taxes and increase their portfolios.

2. Be active locally. The corporate reformers aren’t merely interested in statewide and national elections. They have found more bang for their buck at the local level. They have taken to supporting “reform slates” of school board candidates in local school board elections, and have had some share of success. In Texas, wealthy education-interested businessmen have taken to pooling large sums in PACs with the singular goal of trying to defeat school bond elections in communities across the state. This will happen in your state soon, if it hasn’t already.

3. Embrace your expertise. I am a huge proponent of the Network for Public Educationand The Educators Room because organizations like these put educators in places of engagement and efficacy. The motto of The Educators Room is “empowering teachers as the experts,” and that is exactly the thing that is needed. Mild-mannered teachers must get over their timidity in order to embrace their own power for doing good for this nation. The teacher’s kind-if-firm voice is exactly the antivenin that our nation needs in order to counteract the poisonous greedchismo of the dominant voices in our current policy environment. The titans of self who run this place need nothing so much as a loving teacher to stand at the front of the nation and shush their hurtful words and stop their hurtful behaviors. (“Hey, you there in the Armani suit. Stop distracting the nation. We have an assignment.”) If not us, who? (Or is it whom? Got to remember who I’m talking to here.) If educators are to have an impact, they must have a voice. If they are to have a voice, they must be willing to take the microphone from people who feel they are entitled to hold it. And the same goes for students. Teachers need to embrace the student voice movement. Democracy comes from the people most affected by policy–it isn’t done to them–and in education, that’s the students.

4. Join others. Relatedly, if you are serious about protecting the promise of public education, you have little choice but to join others in holding back the tide of corporate reform. There is diversity in the pro-public education camp. If you are progressive, there is a place for you. If you are conservative, there is a place for you. If you support or oppose the Common Core, there is a place for you. Some organizations and individuals standing together differ on their opinions about well-regulated charter schools. Some differ in their opinions about how much standardized testing is appropriate. Those of us on the front lines of defending the promise of public education are not a monolith. What binds us together is our shared desire to prevent the devaluing of public education via reckless rhetoric and demeaning and unfair policies. We don’t want to see our current system–free public schools for any student who wants an education, anywhere in America–replaced by a portfolio approach that is more interested in “radically transforming the industry” (businessspeak for “getting a piece of that action”) than in guaranteeing every single child a seat from which to learn.

5. Be great. The best defense of the public education system is a strong public education system. Yes, it feels to many of us that we are being sabotaged and set up to fail. Yes, many of us have a hard time doubting that the point of all the testing is to prove that we stink. But be that as it may, we have the opportunity day after day to go into our classrooms and our administrative offices and invest ourselves in activities that make a difference in children’s lives. When we do our jobs well, we win the support of our communities and our parents and students. And, to butcher-phrase an Abraham Lincoln quote often used by the incomparable Jamie Vollmer, “if public opinion is with us, we can’t lose; if it against us, we can’t win.” Public opinion starts in your classroom or office. There are obstacles–especially in America’s poorest communities–that often seem impossible for teachers to overcome. But we must give our all and do our very best. We must show the world that we aren’t afraid of accountability and that, in fact, we embrace something far greater: responsibility. (H/T Pasi Sahlberg)