By Misha Cornelius, Black Organizing Project
On Nov. 6, Oakland will elect four district representatives to the city’s school board of education. Voters will choose representatives for school districts 1,3,5 and 7 and the results of this election will play a major role in defining the future of Oakland schools for the next four years.
Oakland’s education system has been under scrutiny from the public, especially with the recent closure of five schools, including Lakeview Elementary. In addition, Oakland has seen strong public dissent over budget cuts to important school programs like special education and school discipline practices are being questioned due to disproportionate numbers of out-of-school suspensions of African-American students.
"We're spending millions of dollars on a school police department and we're closing schools?” said Ben Lang, school board candidate to represent Dist. 3, as he addressed more than 100 parents, youth and community members at a candidates forum hosted by the Black Organizing Project last month. “That is analogous to the 10-year epidemic of a city that has been suffering from diarrhea and the solution is to build more toilets.”
The forum, hosted at Castlemont High School, brought community members together in front of all nine of the candidates for school board to ask the candidates questions about important topics affecting Oakland’s education.
“I’m happy the community got a chance to see the candidates face-to-face and hear from them directly,” said Mirishae McDonald, BOP Chair and high school history teacher. "It’s important that voters know who the candidates really are, that they understand the vision these candidates have for Oakland schools and that we hold the elected representatives accountable."
Community forums like the one at Castlemont and campaign materials in Oakland neighborhoods are helping Oakland residents make informed decisions while voting for national candidates and local issues on Nov. 6.