Every Black student has a right to feel safe, achieve academically and thrive in Oakland! Black students deserve an education without over-criminalization, bias, lack of empathy, under-resourcing and failure to meet minimum state and civil rights standards. Every Black family in the district has faced some form of anti-Black racism and discrimination – and yet there has never been a comprehensive plan, resources, and set of integrated strategies at the scale needed to address the problem. If Black Lives Matter, OUSD must pass this Resolution to repair the harm to Black students.
The implementation of the resolution will not violate state and federal laws. The state actually requires OUSD to prioritize and address Black student achievement. The district already uses targeted strategies that focus on various student groups, including Black students (https://www.ousd.org/Page/16569).
OUSD has consistently been identified on the California dashboard as having failed to successfully implement local strategies to generate student growth for Black students and has 6 plus years of documented disproportionality of growth for other student groups over Black students. We are required by the state to address this. To be clear, consistently under-serving Black students, closing only majority Black schools, and pushing 18,000 Black students out of the district in 20 years – is the real violation.
The resolution itself is a comprehensive vision and set of solutions developed by 200 Black students, parents and educators – to address the anti-Black racism that has resulted in policies, cultures and practices in our district that have disproportionately harmed Black students and families for generations. This resolution creates a long overdue plan for Black students’ academic growth – that will finally bring OUSD into compliance with state laws that require districts to eliminate the opportunity gap for ALL Black students. Additionally, the resolution will support OUSD’s compliance with federal law – by promoting literacy with culturally relevant curricula, addressing the over-identification of Black students in certain categories of special education, and ending the over policing of Black students by implementing BOP’s George Floyd Resolution and interrupting the “schools-to-prison pipeline”.
OUSD receives a variety of targeted resources, including supplemental and concentration California Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funds, Federal Title I and II funds and certain philanthropic dollars to support our highest need and underserved student populations. The LCFF funding is intended to close the opportunity gap for identified subgroups and specifically names African American students as a prioritized subgroup. The Reparations fund will utilize a portion of those existing targeted dollars, as well as fundraise new targeted dollars, to specifically address the impacts of anti-Black racism in OUSD on Black students.
Saying that OUSD must repair the generations of harm done to Black students does not mean that it must do less for other students, it means that it must target resources to Black students to whom less has always been given. Equity is only achieved when we center students most impacted by injustice. Achieving equity and creating anti-racist learning environments in our district supports all students, ensuring safe, academically enriching environments for everyone.
While this Resolution specifically addresses the needs of Black students, it expands a number of important initiatives that improve the educational achievement and health and well being of all students. These include creating access to culturally relevant curricula, early education, hiring a diversified teacher workforce, anti-bias training and anti-racist school cultures, as well as other strategies that support all students. Passing this resolution addresses systemic and structural racism that prevents Black, indigenous, and all children of color from achieving success in OUSD. The resolution will also strengthen the equity formula and require the district to capture data to ensure every student is being equitably served. A district with strict anti-racist values, policies and practices benefits our entire community.
Oakland would not be the first district to pass a resolution supporting Black students. In January 2020, the West Contra Costa Unified School District passed Resolution 46-1920 which includes approximately $7 million dollars dedicated to prioritizing Black student achievement. The actions include establishing an office of African American Achievement, additional academic mentorship, and mental health resources for Black students, anti-bias training for staff and educators, as well as focused recruitment and retention of Black educators.
Read more about the movement for reparations for Black students below:
In addition, the resolution is in alignment with and a part of city-wide efforts like the Black New Deal – which addresses the disparities in life outcomes for the Black community in Oakland across housing, education and health.
No, the approval of the resolution is made by the OUSD board which only governs in-district schools. Charter schools have private boards and they would need to adopt a similar Resolution for Black Reparations in charter schools. Our aspiration is to transform the educational experience and outcomes for ALL Black students and families in Oakland, however, our current system does not assure democratic representation and accountability to our community. We believe that racial equity and systemic change will happen only when the entire Oakland school system is accountable to students and families furthest from opportunity.
Black-led organizations and Black community leaders include:
Bay Area PLAN (Parent Leadership Action Network), OEA (Oakland Education Association), Parent Voices Oakland, J4OS (Justice for Oakland Students Coalition), Cat Brooks (Anti Police Terror Project), BOP (Black Organizing Project), Carroll Fife District 3 City Councilmember, VanCedric Williams District School Board member, Mike Hutchinson District 5 School Board member, Pastor Jenkins (Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church), Brotherhood of Elders, Dr. Macheo Payne (Community and Youth Outreach), and the Alameda County Office of Urban Male Health.