FIA kicked off December hosting local elected officials and community leaders on legislative bus tours to visit some of Oakland’s most tenacious and creative community schools. These tours are designed to promote collaboration and a shared commitment to supporting education among a diversity of Oakland leaders. Tour participants got to hear directly from school principals, teachers, math coaches, students and parents and had the chance to see the best community school practices in action that are shifting outcomes for underserved students. “It is important that our elected and community leaders to see the realities that Oakland teachers and students face everyday in their classrooms,” says former OUSD board member Jumoke Hinton. “The harms that students experienced during this pandemic can be traced to a rigid and inequitable system that put adults, not students, first,” she continued.
NAEP testing underlines the need, showing that nationally, more vulnerable students lost 20 years of academic progress from 2019-2022. Yet, certain pandemic discoveries can paint a path toward a better way. Each of the schools that our elected and community leaders saw in action is responding with innovation to the challenges that were heightened during the pandemic.
David Silver, Director of Education for outgoing Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, speaks with Latitude 37.8 students who are conducting a discovery process for a new app they are coding to support students at Achieve to accelerate their math learning.
The FIA community schools Legislative Tour bus made four stops: Latitude 37.8 High School, Community School for Creative Education, Oakland Unity High, and ARISE High School. On the bus was Oakland School Board member-elect Nick Resnick, Kaiser Community Health Manager, Oakland City Councilwoman-elect Janani Ramachandran, and David Silver, the Director of Education for the Mayor of Oakland.
All of the schools on the tour use aspects of the community schools model to align resources to improve student outcomes through an integrated focus on academics, health and social services, youth and community development, and community engagement. Councilmember-elect Janani Ramachandran noted the integrated, socially-relevant curriculum in place at ARISE High School, “you can really see the deep commitment to social justice across all of the classrooms we visited.” At Unity High School, Oakland school board member-elect Nick Resnick said, “The Unity High students were so impressive. They were so proud of their school…. I’d like to see more Oakland schools sharing and collaborating around the community schools model.”
Students and alumni talk about their hopes, dreams, and experience at Oakland Unity High, one of Oakland’s 2021 California Distinguished Schools.
“We encourage our leaders to be part of the movement to improve the quality of schools through understanding the diverse needs of our students and how our schools are working creatively to accelerate students’ recovery from the pandemic. Together, we can prioritize our students and work to scale programs that are producing equitable and excellent outcomes,” says FIA Director of Operations Priscilla Zamora.
You can read the full “Get on the Bus” Legislative Tour Brief here.