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Post Endorses School Board Candidates Demanding Full Local Control, Oppose School Closings




A committee of local educators created by the Oakland Post Editorial Board has endorsed candidates for the Oakland Board of Education in all four open races this year, supporting outspoken community leaders who oppose austerity and continued domination of district polices by state agencies and who unequivocally oppose closing neighborhood schools.

The Post endorsed: District 1 – Stacy Thomas and Sam Davis; District 3 – Cherisse Gash and VanCedric Williams; District 5 – Mike Hutchinson: and District 7 – Kristina Molina and Ben “Coach” Tapscott.

Participants in the Post’s committee were teacher Shalonda Tillman, Post editor and educator Ken Epstein, parent Mona Treviño, educator Henry HItz, retired teacher Eleanore Stovall and educator Nirali Jani. The committee made recommendations and Post publishers Paul Cobb and Gay Plair Cobb made final decisions.

The Post did not endorse candidates who support closing more Oakland schools, take money from privatizers or pro-charter school billionaires or would like the district to continue the kind of draconian cuts that have become common in recent years.

The Post-endorsed candidate from District 1, Thomas said she is committed to “stopping the charter school  proliferation that is happening in Oakland.”

With a career of 30 years in accounting, she said she hopes to use her skills to fight for financial transparency and stop the state and its agency, the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT), from running roughshod over the school district.

She strongly stated that as a board member she would not vote to close schools because “it is hugely disruptive to parents, teachers and students.”

The Post endorsement committee also supported Davis for his experience in education. However, he was equivocal on a number of issues. Rather than say there is a need to wrest control from the neoliberals in state government, he said, “The best antidote to FCMAT is getting our own financial house in order,” which is hard to do if the privatizers and their supporters are in charge.

Gash, who was strongly endorsed for District 3, said she is opposed to closing schools and is determined to invest in education. “We have to stop defunding the schools and putting money in consulting costs. You have to have board members who will fight tooth and nail to make sure money that students need are not cut in half. They need to be given the maximum. “

She said that FCMAT officials, who are based in Bakersfield, “don’t value Oakland people and Oakland voices. They end up contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline.”

The Post also endorsed Williams for District 3 school board. A San Francisco public school teacher who lives in Oakland, he said he would never vote to close a school.

For District 5, the Post endorsed Mike Hutchinson.  Speaking about outside agencies and interests impacting Oakland, he said the school district’s “budget crisis has been engineered for different political ends. This is all a part of an effort for other people to come into our school district and try to compel us to close our schools so the property can be sold off to charter schools and developers.”

Post-endorsed candidate Molina in District 7 describes herself as someone who as a student “attended Melrose Elementary School, Calvin Simmons Junior High School, and John C. Fremont High School. I come from a proud background of California pickers; my grandmother, father, aunt, and uncle worked in the fields of San Clemente and joined Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta in the fight to get unionized. I was the first in the family to attend college at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB).”

“Oakland public education needs less obscurity and more transparency. Families, teachers, students, and community stakeholders need to know how schools are spending and investing funds. School site parent-run organizations need to be provided with their school budget to see how the administration has expended every dollar of their child’s education,” she said.

The Post also endorsed “Coach” Tapscott for District 7 school board.

When the state took over the school district in 2003, the district was about $50 million in debt, he said. When the state receiver left, the district was $100 million in debt, an amount that still is not paid off. “If they generated that debt, they should pay for it,” Tapscott said.

When they cut, they cut at the school sites, (but) we’re top-heavy with upper and middle management.

“I think there is a lot of waste going on,” he said, “I think there is a conspiracy, you have more privatization, keeping us in debt. The state controller, what is that person doing to monitor the money?”

School board candidates and contact information

District 1

• Austin Dannhaus;

• Sam Davis;

• Stacy Thomas:

District 3

• Maiya Edgerly;

• Cherisse Gash;

• Mark Hurty;

• Maximo Santana;

• VanCedric Williams:

District 5

• Mike Hutchinson;

• Leroy Gaines;

• Sheila Pope Lawrence;

• Jorge Lerma;

District 7

• Kristina Molina;

• Ben Tapscott;

• Bronché Jerard Taylor;

• Clifford Thompson:

• Victor  Valerio;