By Mia Bonta
Editor’s Note: Education advocates, parents and elected officials held a press conference on Thursday, December 16 at Oakland School District Headquarters on 1000 Broadway to oppose the they see it as a hostile takeover of Oakland public schools by the Alameda County office. Education and the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT), representing the State. The following is the statement by Assembly Member Mia Bonta at the press conference.
I am proud to represent the children, educators, parents, the people of Oakland at this time. I am here today to stand in solidarity with the children of Oakland, our school district, our Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell, our school board because they need us more than ever.
We come together today to remind ourselves of a common condition that we all have, that our children deserve a public education. Our children deserve the opportunity to be educated with our teachers, our educators, and to know that we are by their side every day.
We are also meeting today more specifically to respond to the “Lack of Business Continuity” letter received from the Alameda County Education Office and the required response from that district.
In this answer, I want to be crystal clear: I’m with Oakland, I’m with our children, I’m with our teachers, educators, and families.
I stand alongside our superintendent who worked every day during COVID, during a pandemic. I am alongside our board of directors who have worked together every day to be able to provide community health assistance, to be able to provide education every day to our children.
In a time when their education has been absolutely scattered and disrupted, teachers, educators, our superintendent, the district and this council have come together to be able to tackle these issues.
So what the hell are we doing, thinking, right now, right now, that we should be doing something other than supporting this system that has come into place for our children?
I also want to be sure you all know that I stand here in my role as legislator, now, at this time, and in a spirit of restorative justice, to recognize that the state has played a role in dismantling our system. . We have a responsibility right now. It’s been decades of creating schools that we haven’t supported to the level we should have.
It’s been decades of introducing schools that haven’t been fully accountable to all of Oakland’s children, and it’s been decades of having to withstand the impact of a state receivership that has been devastating. for this school district.
I was not there, (OAS President) Keith (Brown) was not there, but now we are here, stuck with this problem that we need to help solve. And I want to make sure we all know that no child has ever benefited from adults not telling the whole truth.
No child has ever benefited from adults who do not present the full picture of what must happen for our community. Making sure you focus on garnishing a superintendent’s wages when they’ve been a saving grace is not a solution I can defend.
Seizing the salaries or threatening the salaries of a school board, which in fact does not have enough funds to do its job effectively, that will arrive at a solution that we want.
Focus on closing schools, disrupting spaces that ensure the safety and integrity of our children, as the whole world around them tells them it’s not a safe time – it won’t get us there where we need for our children.
I know what we need to do is make an investment. Let’s put it this way. What if we thought about Oakland investing in community schools, investing in mental health practices, investing in paraprofessionals, investing in educators, investing in more staff, so that we can actually meet the needs of our children at this time and at this most disruptive time in the history of our children’s education in our country. What [if] is that the answer?
What [if] we just returned it? So right now, I know my role is to make sure that we invest more in this state. And I have made a commitment right now to work at the state level to get relief from this loan that has been given to the school district by the state. I’m going to work to make sure we get more resources for OUSD, to make sure all of you, all of us, can do the job that we need to do for our kids right now.
I want to show solidarity again with our children, our teachers, our educators, our superintendents and our school board because they need us more than ever. It’s not a slap on the wrist, they need us to show up, invest and make sure we deliver to our kids.