Archive for March, 2018

Prescott Elementary in West Oakland Says No to Charter School on Campus

Ben “Coach” Taspscott (top right) speaks at a meeting called by the school district Monday at Prescott Elementary to notify the school community of the possible “co-location” of a charter school on the campus. The meeting attendees voted unanimously to refuse to give space to the charter. Photo by Ken Epstein.

By Ken Epstein

School district officials held a hastily called meeting this week at PLACE@Prescott Elementary School in West Oakland to give the Prescott community notice that it may have to surrender some of its classrooms next year if a charter school decides to “co-locate” there.

The two-dozen angry parents, teachers and community members at the meeting had a message for the district: it’s not going to happen.

Community members at the meeting voted unanimously to refuse to accept the charter at the school.

“We’re not going for it this year. The community has had it, and we’re going to fight,” said Ben “Coach” Tapscott of the New McClymonds Committee.

“They are taking Black kids’ schools. It’s gentrification, and it’s institutionalized racism. It’s not OK,” said Soraya Sajous-Brooks, a 21-year teacher at Prescott.

“I’m fighting for Black and Brown children right now,” she said.

According to a district list published last Friday, American Indian Public Charter School II is requesting space at Prescott (five rooms), which is located at 920 Campbell St., as well as space at Allendale Elementary, West Oakland Middle, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary and Ralph Bunche High.

The list, which was approved by the school district this week, is a step in the annual lineup of charters requesting to co-locate at Oakland schools. This year, 10 charters are asking for classrooms at 26 schools.

Rather than accept what they see as the step-by-step dismantling of the school, the Prescott community must answer for itself the question: “What is the best thing we can do to make sure this doesn’t happen?” according to transitional kindergarten teacher Lorraine Mann.

“If we give our rooms away, our plans for the school would be blasted to pieces,” said Mann.

“Do you realize how incredibly destabilizing it is to give up classrooms?” asked parent Stephanie Parrott, who pointed out that Prescott is working to expand to become a kindergarten through eighth-grade school, a goal that would be undermined by losing space.

One of the classrooms that would be lost is currently used as the art room.

According to Parrott, Prescott has the highest performance of the five elementary schools currently in West Oakland, while a charter school, Vincent Academy, is the lowest performing.

Community activist Mike Hutchinson said that while the district under state law (Prop. 39) must give “underutilized space” to charters, “We don’t have to displace students to make room for them.”

Sylvester Hodges, former school board member and graduate of Prescott and McClymonds High, said the Prescott community can win if it organizes and unites to stop the encroachment of the charter school.

“Let them know you are not going to allow them on this campus,” he said. “You have to stand fast. Don’t let them scare or frighten you.”

He compared the situation to the falsified history that says Columbus “discovered” America. “Right now, they are discovering Prescott. Let’s send Columbus back across the ocean,” he said.

Hodges said he was active last year when the McClymonds community forced American Indian Charter to withdraw its application for space at the high school.

Published March 30, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post

Opinion: Full Funding For Apprentice Training and City Job Centers

By Desley Brooks, District 6 Councilwoman

Construction is booming in Oakland. From almost anywhere in the city you can see cranes, building materials stacked near the streets and people in hard hats working hard throughout the day.

Desley Brooks

As our city undergoes this much needed growth it’s imperative we make sure local residents benefit from the jobs as well as the buildings that are created. Too often that hasn’t been the case. That’s why I’ve proposed proactive legislation focusing on construction sector jobs that will help provide job security and training within these booming industries.

For 16 years I’ve worked to keep Oaklanders employed, with a holistic approach including worker protections, living wages and appropriate training. I’ve advocated for serious investment into places that prepare young adults for the working world because I know sustainable jobs require proper preparation and training.

These programs focus on providing real work experience, industry specific hands-on training and the life skills necessary for success to under resourced communities.

My efforts have been aimed at not only ensuring that profitable temporary jobs go to Oakland residents, but that residents also have a pathway to careers, business ownership and true economic security.

This is why I’ve introduced legislation that provides funding for Cypress Mandela, the Laborers Local 304 Training Foundation, Oakland Job Centers and other programs with successful records of developing, growing and sustaining workforces in Oakland.

Building a strong economy requires making sure that our communities have the resources required to produce a skilled workforce, with well trained workers equipped to handle modern industry jobs.

The institutions that once provided our communities with entryways to careers are waning while programs like those supported in the legislation

I’ve proposed pick up the slack. Too often these organizations are left without the support of local government to provide the services our communities so desperately need. We cannot expect these programs to function at their full potential while they lack the resources needed to operate.

The legislation I’ve presented ensures adequate funding for places like Cypress Mandela so they are better able to serve all Oakland residents.

Some may argue that the allocation of resources towards these organizations is unfair, that all communities deserve entryways to gainful employment.

I remind those people that these programs exist to focus on communities that are often left out of other efforts aimed at hiring, training and retaining local workers.These communities deserve real support too. Investing in these often overlooked communities is money wisely spent, providing benefits for community-at- large. For example just last year, Cypress

Mandela passed the first class of students to receive railroad specific training. This training provided them with the skill set necessary to maintain our BART system and keep over 50,000 daily riders safe.

That’s a return every BART rider in the Bay Area benefits from. Investing in programs like those supported by my legislation guarantees that every community has an opportunity to participate in our thriving economies and that no Oakland resident is left behind. Please join me and call your Council Member and ask them to support this legislation and provide the necessary funding to keep our community working.

The legislation is scheduled to be heard at the Community Economic Development Committee (CEDA) on April 10, 2018 at City Hall.

Please call and email your councilmembers and let them know you want Oaklanders to be a part of the economic boom taking place in our city. Come to the City Council committee meeting and show your support.

Published March 29, 2018, courtesy of the Oakland Post