Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Billionaires' Frankenstein Monster

Re “Officials get earful at school hearing” (June 2): As a longtime Oakland public school parent, I have concluded that the state school administration has failed to create a change for the better. The previous leadership had weaknesses, but the state has produced its very own Frankenstein monster.

The California Department of Education must have been thrilled to acquire OUSD. Now it could offer its friends, Eli Broad, Bill Gates, et al., the opportunity to try out their “we’re-billionaires-and-we-know-it-all” notions of public school reform.

If you needed a laboratory to test your theories, Oakland would be ideal. Disadvantaged by significant class, ethnic and race divisions—with an abundance of uninvolved parents—no one would organize effective resistance against your efforts. Besides, with average academic performance already low, what would be lost if your experiments didn’t succeed?

As it turns out, something has been lost. The students and their families are now continuously subjected to instability. The state’s manipulations have produced a constant turnover of people, positions and programs at the schools, with no end in sight. Dedicated educators and engaged parents, our most valuable resources, are mostly disregarded. With such rapid change, the body of collective memory is growing very, very thin.

OUSD is being controlled by outsiders with no sincere allegiance to the well-being of our city. They are not experts who can solve the painful problems which plague us. We’ll need to do that ourselves.

So maybe it’s time to say, “Enough is enough.”

This letter of mine was printed in the Oakland Tribune in June 2007. Because of it, I ended up meeting a new friend, Bob Blackburn, an important former OUSD superintendent with a wonderful sense of humor.

1 comment:

The Perimeter Primate said...

The letter is archived at