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OUSD: McClymonds, Fremont, Castlemont Will not Become Charter Schools

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The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) has announced that by a March 12 deadline, it has received letters of intent to design proposals for four schools that are part of the district’s intensive support school initiative, and none of these letters have come from a charter school.

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The district said in a press release that it has received multiple letters from site-based volunteer committees: one letter from Castlemont High, one from Fremont High, one from McClymonds High and three letters from Frick Middle.

 

As a result, none of these of four schools will be become a charter school next school year as a result of the district’s Request for Proposals. The timeline for the fifth school facing redesign, Brookfield Elementary, has yet to be announced.

 

Proposals for the four schools must be submitted by May 21 to a District Academic Review Board and the superintendent.

 

“We are gratified to learn that these four schools will continue to be public schools,” said Trish Gorham, president of the teachers’ union, the Oakland Education Association (OEA). “We don’t know what’s going to happen with Brookfield yet.”

 

The OEA, as well as numbers of students and community members vociferously objected at school board meetings and school site meetings to the district redesign process, which had allowed charter schools as well as school-site committees to run the schools.

 

A number of the community groups and students were not so much “anti-charter” as opposed to a takeover of their schools by outside organizations that they said knew nothing about them or their schools.

 

While a number of people are mystified by the opposition to charters, over the years many students and families already have had their schools closed or turned into charters. Some neighborhoods have no nearby public schools left to attend.

 

Charter schools have been growing dramatically in Oakland, especially since the takeover by the district by the State of California in 2003.

 

According to the district website, there are currently 33 charter schools functioning in OUSD authorized by the district and six charter schools in Oakland authorized by Alameda County Office of Education.

 

Some of the charters are in located in their own buildings, some are in closed Oakland schools, and others share buildings with existing public schools.

 

For next school year, the district is looking at a K-8 charter school on the Castlemont High campus, which will be operated by Youth Uprising alongside the public school. There is also already another charter on the Castlemont campus: Leadership Public Schools: R&D.

 

In addition, there is a proposed Francophone Charter Academy at the Toler Heights campus: American Indian Charter School 6-8, which would share a campus with Bella Vista Elementary; and American Indian Charter School II K-8, which would operate at Edward Shands in East Oakland, which was closed when the school district largely abandoned its Adult Education courses.

 

These school sites have been offered under terms of state law, know as Prop. 39, but not all have been accepted yet.

 

“Charter schools rob a city, its schools and its community of the will to support a common good for all. They foster an attitude that, ‘I’ve got mine, you take care of yours,’ said OEA President Gorham.

 

“With public schools, we have an obligation to work for the public good, and we have public oversight of the process,” she said. “There is no adequate monitoring of the charter school system, and the charters often do not serve students who are English Learners or have special needs. Harder to teach students are often counseled out of the school.”

 

When charters were begun years ago, she said, they were “bottom up” initiatives that were creative and innovative, and some of them still are, she said.

 

But, increasingly, charters have become a business that operate at a corporate level – supported by some for profit motives and others because of the desire to reduce government support of most public services, she said.

 

School districts lose funding to charter schools, and charter employees have no job security or union rights, said Gorham.

Bay Area

Ida Times-Green Running for State Assembly District 12

Ida Times-Green became a voice for Marin City schoolchildren over the segregation in their school. She was appointed as a Sausalito Marin City School Board Trustee in 2014 and subsequently won election as the top vote-getter in 2018.

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California State Assembly District 12 after 2020 redistricting cycle (From ballotpedia.org). Lower left of map: Ida Times-Green.
California State Assembly District 12 after 2020 redistricting cycle (From ballotpedia.org). Lower left of map: Ida Times-Green.

By Godfrey Lee

Ida Times-Green, a resident of Marin City, is running for California State Assembly District 12 of California in the upcoming June 7 election.

Times-Green promises to fight for affordable housing, single-payer healthcare, living wages and union workers, resilience to wildfires, climate justice policies, reforming law enforcement, public education and student debt relief.

“There are numerous issues facing our state that I believe are critical — single-payer healthcare, affordable housing, homelessness, wildfire resiliency — with the climate crisis being an existential threat and dealing with that must underlie everything we do.

It’s about more than just this district — it’s about the future of California,” Times-Green wrote on her Facebook page.

Times-Green is also concerned with women’s reproductive rights, wildfire resiliency, and post-COVID revitalization. Her position on these issues can be found at Idatimesgreenforassembly.com

Times-Green showed her concern for the community when she and her late husband, Edward Lee “Boone” Green. Boone Green, the founder of the Marin City Boxing Club, founded One Kid at a Time, a nonprofit dedicated to mentor at-risk children and young adults in 2013. The couple believed that with support, these young people could be steered in the right direction despite prior risky behavior. It was a belief that led them to help many young adults find homes and graduate from high school.

Times-Green became a voice for Marin City schoolchildren over the segregation in their school. She was appointed as a Sausalito Marin City School Board Trustee in 2014 and subsequently won election as the top vote-getter in 2018.

Today, Times-Green is in her eighth year as a board trustee with the Sausalito Marin City School District (SMCUSD). She is fulfilling the desegregation mandate handed down by former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in August 2019 and creating a multicultural learning environment for all children in the district. She also helps the community every day through her full-time job as a social worker for the County of Marin.

She is an active member of the faith community at the Cornerstone Community Church of God in Christ in Marin City. She was previously a member of Village Baptist Church in Petaluma. Times-Green’s heart for her community is large, with a strong desire to serve for many years to come.

Times-Green’s many endorsements include the Health Care for All (HCA), California State Superintendent of Public Education Tony Thurmond, Marin County Supervisors Susan Adams (ret.) and Kate Sears (ret.), Marin County Office of Education Deputy Superintendent Terena Mares, San Anselmo Vice Mayor Steve Burdo, Tiburon Councilmember Noah Griffin, Sausalito Marin City School District Superintendent Dr. Itoco Garcia, and SMCSD boardmembers Lisa Bennett and Bonnie Hough, Esq., California Democratic Party Senior Caucus Chair Ruth Carter and 1W Regional Director Pat Johnstone. Ida Times-Green can be reached at idaforassembly@gmail.com or call (415)231-8807.

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Community

GOP Candidate for State Controller Lanhee Chen Known for Bipartisanship

Chen, a Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is respected among Republicans and Democrats for his work across party lines. President Barack Obama appointed him to serve on the bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board. And he has served as adviser to several Republican elected officials, including U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

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Lanhee Chen. COF.org photo.

By Bo Tefu, California Black Media

Attorney and Stanford Law School lecturer Lanhee Chen is a Republican running for California State Controller.

Chen, a Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is respected among Republicans and Democrats for his work across party lines. President Barack Obama appointed him to serve on the bipartisan Social Security Advisory Board. And he has served as adviser to several Republican elected officials, including U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

The Los Angeles Times recently endorsed Chen, stating that his bipartisan experience is an indication that he would be independent in a state government that is majority Democratic.

Chen spoke with California Black Media (CBM) about his plans to promote fiscal accountability, transparency and the state’s economic advancement.

The conversation has been edited for clarity and concision.

CBM: From your perspective, what is the State Controller’s main function?

Lanhee Chen (L.C.) The State Controller is the chief financial watchdog for the state of California. It’s the individual who gives California taxpayers accountability over every single dollar the state spends. The Controller oversees the disbursement of state funds.

The Controller’s office also has an unclaimed property department. The state keeps a catalogue of all the information people need to claim money they forgot they had.

Perhaps the most important thing the controller does is audit. The Controller is responsible for auditing programs ran by the state government. These audits help the Controller figure out where and how the state spends taxpayers’ money.

The main objectives of this role are financial management accounting and fiscal responsibility.

CBM: Why are you running for Controller?

L.C.: I believe that when we think about the challenges California faces right now, some of those challenges are created by a lack of good fiscal management. A lack of a real set of accountability principles around how our money is being spent. My background in policymaking, academics, and business is exactly the kind of experience that is needed for this job. I’ve spent my career solving problems in fiscal and public policy.

All that experience has prepared me to serve in a role which is predominantly about making sure that the state is spending money wisely. The Controller’s independence from other statewide elected officials is the most important. My track record shows that I have a history of working as a bipartisan problem solver.

CBM: Do you feel being a Republican is a disadvantage or an advantage?

L.C.: The obvious disadvantage is the sheer number of Democrats that outnumber the number of Republicans in the state. There are also some ways that the Republican Party hasn’t been a welcoming and inviting place for people of all backgrounds. I have an immigrant background. I grew up in Orange County. My parents came to the U.S. and managed to put together and raise a great family.

One of the major advantages of this job is that I get to be the one asking tough questions who isn’t in the ‘go along to get along club.’ My background and political affiliation will be helpful in terms of making sure we get answers to tough questions.

In terms of working with Democrats, I have a demonstrated record of working with Democrats and I don’t have an issue working with people who want transparency in terms of how we’re spending our money and where it’s going.

CBM: What experience do you bring to this position?

L.C.: Along with my policy background, I’ve served on boards of regional and community healthcare systems. I’ve also been an entrepreneur and investor for small businesses. My experience helps me understand the business and financial aspects of this job. I know how to look at the financials of our state and figure out what’s going right, what’s going wrong, and how do we give people more information.

Seeing I am also an educator, I can help people understand what’s happening in our state budget.

CBM: If you win, what will be your first priority?

L.C.: The first thing we need is transparency into every dollar the state spends. I want to create a fully transparent, searchable, machine-readable database that allows you to figure out exactly our state is spending money. This project will help us set up a government transparency portal that gives us a sense of whether the spending was effective or not.

Second, I want to use the role’s auditing power and dig deeper into how and what we’re spending on. We need clarity on funding that supports the state’s priority issues such as K-12 education, homelessness, and health care.

CBM: A lot of Black and Brown people work for state government. What is your view on unfunded pension liabilities?

L.C.: Ideally, promises made should be promises kept.

I have a big problem with the idea that we play politics and interfere with pension funds. The primary goal of pension funds is to keep people’s retirement earnings safe and ensure that we’re maximizing the return on the investment that we make. Unfortunately, the state isn’t doing that in a lot of cases. CalPERS and CalSTRS both have not been truthful with us for too many years about what their expectations are about how much in unfunded liabilities we have.

CBM: How would you describe your leadership style? And how does that match with the demands of being the State Controller?

L.C.: My leadership style is about establishing goals and having principles. But it’s also critical to understanding that there’s a time to stand on principle and a time to stand alone. That is a delicate balance. Integrity and ethical leadership are pivotal to making sure everybody’s rowing in the right direction.

This role calls for a leader that isn’t afraid of managing conflict. We won’t not always be on the same page. Fiscal responsibility can only be achieved through transparency and accountability. It is my priority to be the type of leader that lets people know that I’m happy to work together, but I won’t back down on my values or compromise my independence.

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Black History

Erica Loewe Helping to Open Doors for Black Press, Others at White House

In Erika Loewe’s all-too-important job as director of African American media, she has ensured that the Black Press and other media of color have enjoyed unprecedented access to the White House and top administration and cabinet officials. “President Biden and Vice President Harris promised an administration that looks like America, and they have fulfilled that promise,” Loewe said during a recent visit to the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) headquarters at the Thurgood Marshall Center in Northwest, Washington, D.C.

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(Pictured left to right): Karine Jean-Pierre, the nation’s first Black press secretary, Erica Loewe, director of African American media and outgoing press secretary Jen Psaki.
(Pictured left to right): Karine Jean-Pierre, the nation’s first Black press secretary, Erica Loewe, director of African American media and outgoing press secretary Jen Psaki.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

As Karine Jean-Pierre prepares to make history as the first Black press secretary at the White House, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have continued to ensure that African Americans – particularly Black women, helm crucial posts.

Alongside Jean-Pierre, there’s chief of staff to Kate Bedingfield, Khanya Brann, outgoing press secretary Jen Psaki’s chief of staff, Amanda Finney, and senior regional communications director, Rykia Dorsey.

Then, there’s Erica Loewe.

In Loewe’s all-too-important job as director of African American media, she has ensured that the Black Press and other media of color have enjoyed unprecedented access to the White House and top administration and cabinet officials.

“President Biden and Vice President Harris promised an administration that looks like America, and they have fulfilled that promise,” Loewe said during a recent visit to the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s (NNPA) headquarters at the Thurgood Marshall Center in Northwest, Washington, D.C.

There, Loewe sat for an interview with NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., for his PBS-TV show, “The Chavis Chronicles.”

“Since day one, the Biden-Harris Administration has valued diversity, empowered Black voices, and taken a whole-of-government approach to advance racial equity,” she told Dr. Chavis during the episode scheduled to air later this year.

Loewe grew up in Miami after her mother gave birth to her in South Carolina.

She attended the University of Florida and later interned at the White House for President Barack Obama.

A prolific volunteer, Loewe has worked as press secretary and deputy communications director for U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and as deputy communications director for Congressman James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

“Jim Clyburn is one of my favorite bosses, and he’s been very clear that I need to tell people that I’m from Charleston even though I grew up in Miami,” Loewe stated.

“He’s a great man, and I’ve learned a lot from him,” she remarked.

Her early influence came from her parents, particularly her mother and grandparents.

Loewe’s father worked in the nonprofit sector and helped her to gain a focus on economic empowerment and business development.

Her mother worked for a city commissioner, allowing Loewe to spend time at City Hall.

“I have always been around people who lead and serve, to some extent,” she said.

“My parents split up, but I lived with my mom and grandparents in a house full of love and laughter,” she said.

While working in the Obama White House, Loewe lived with her family and worked under the director of African American outreach.

Now, as director of African American media, she said her life had come full circle.

“I’m back at the White House, and my mother lives with me,” she said.

Loewe said her mother battles Alzheimer’s disease, but “somewhere inside, she’s there, proud of me.”

Loewe said she has enjoyed returning to the White House and tries to stay out of the crosshairs of secret service.

“We have fun. They take their jobs very seriously and we do as well,” Loewe said.

The fulfilling part of her job is allowing access to Black media and the American public, Loewe offered.

“There’s nothing like being able to grant access to the White House for the very first time,” Loewe declared. “It’s a building people have seen on television and thought they may never get inside. But, our job is to provide access to people.”

She exclaimed that the Biden-Harris administration had provided access never before experienced by the American public.

The administration also has remained the most inclusive in American history.

“Never has there been an administration that has uplifted and supported Black women as much as President Biden and Vice President Harris,” Loewe asserted.

“It’s just a fact. Numbers don’t lie. The Honorable [Kamala] Harris is a Black woman who has lived experiences… She attended Howard University, and she’s a member of the Divine Nine, the Black Church, and an advocate for Black maternal health and accurate home appraisals for Black people.”

Loewe continued:

“There are more Black people in first time positions in the President’s cabinet. You have the war in Ukraine and Gen. Lloyd Austin, the first Black to head the Department of Defense and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Two Black people you see every day making sure that we’re providing aid to Ukraine.”

She noted the Environmental Protection Agency’s Michael Regan as the first Black person to lead there, and HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, as examples of other Black appointees in the administration.

“These are not symbolic positions,” Loewe concluded.

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