Oakland School Board
School Board Watch
School Board Elects
Jennifer Brouhard, District 2
Brouhard is a retired teacher who spent 27 years in OUSD. For the last two years, she taught seventh and eighth-grade humanities at La Escualita, which until this year was a K-8 school.
Nick Resnick, District 4
Nick has worked in many different capacities across K-12 education. Throughout his 15-year career in public education, he learned how the right mix of people, curriculum, and programs successfully support the whole child. Due to his range of K-12 experiences, Nick is uniquely positioned to dramatically improve our public school system
• Teacher and Instructional Coach, Oakland Unified School District
• Improvement Coach: 10 Title I Districts in CA, CA Ed Partners
• Chief Operating Officer, Inquiry By Design
• Chief Executive Officer, Inquiry By Design
• California Preliminary Administrative Services Credential
• California Clear Single Subject Credential in Mathematics
• California Clear Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential
• Master of Arts in Urban Education, Alliant International University
• Certificate in Education Finance, Georgetown University
• Group Facilitator Skills Certificate, Community at Work
2022 FIA Candidate Questionnaire
OUSD Board Member candidate Questionnaire – Nick Resnick OUSD D4
- Why are you running for school board and why should Oakland voters support your campaign?
- I’m running because Oakland deserves a better school board — one that’s focused on kids and learning. With students falling further behind, our board is in disarray, talking about everything other than kids. I’m sick of the politics of division, of wedge issues and false choices, of a climate where people are intimidated from even speaking before our board. I’ll bring the focus back where it belongs, while modeling decency, respect, and a solutions orientation.
- I’m a lifelong educator, an OUSD parent, and a longtime resident of our district. I have the commitment to stay with this.
- As a CEO and a proven leader, I have the skills to fix OUSD’s troubled finances and get us on a path to stability.
- Where can voters get more information about your campaign?
- What do you think are the biggest issues facing Oakland schools and students right now?
- Student learning: A crystal clear focus on student learning. Promising every child in Oakland an education that sets them up for a life of choice, opportunity and upward mobility.
- The board’s inability to focus on student learning: In one of California’s lowest performing districts with significant racial disparity between student groups, I continue to be shocked at how little the board focused on these core challenges. Oakland Unified has 13% of the lowest performing schools in the state and reading rates for Black students are less than 1/3 of those for White students. These statistics should keep our school board up at night.
- As a board member, my top priority will be focusing on student achievement and especially on these racial achievement gaps.
- OUSD is among the California school districts with the lowest academic performance, especially for underserved students, yet is ranked #4 (highest) in public funding from the state. As a board member, how will you help increase academic quality and outcomes?
OUSD is famous for initiative overload, investing in too many areas and implementing them a mile wide and an inch deep. Our system cannot implement everything at the same time.
We must make every budgetary decision based directly on the connection to student learning. Not all dollars spent have the same return on investment for our children. We need to look at the academic return on each and every investment – or reduction – decision.
The Government Finance Officers Association has developed the Smarter School Spending Framework that many promising school districts use to align their priorities around student learning as the key metric to drive decision making. The OUSD School Board adopted this framework in 2018, but hasn’t implemented the principles.
We must cut waste. We need reality-based budgeting, not denial that we have fiscal problems. It will be hard but we will need to consolidate more schools so we can invest in quality programs. I am committed to eliminating the structural deficit, to free up resources to invest in quality programs.
- In Oakland, there are 78 OUSD-run district schools and 38 authorized charter schools that serve 49,000 students (about 15,000 attending charters and 34,000 attending district-run program and about 17,000 students choose private schools). What is your vision for achieving a thriving school system considering these factors? What role should families and parents play?
I believe we need to move away from the oversimplification of sides and to a more collaborative discussion about what is actually our reality:
- How are families choosing schools and what is important to them?
- How is the culture and conditions of our sites supporting teachers as professionals and leading to greater retention of veteran educators?
- What are students experiencing as their educational program across our 84 sites? Is this just and equitable?
Most people around our city, and especially parents, all agree that what we have been doing here historically is not working. Our children deserve the promise of an education, and OUSD has historically failed certain communities for generations. Parents want to make certain their kid can read by 3rd grade and do math in middle school. They want their kid to have access to music and art and after school programs, like their white and affluent peers in other parts of the city. They simply want an education that sets their child up for a life of choice, opportunity and upward mobility. Unfortunately, as you know, that is not happening from site to site across our city.
These are the conversations I hope to have and focus our attention on. These are not the conversations the school board has been having. I have no certain solution, but my goal would be to bring the community together over time and lean into these questions and determine some different models of possible ways forward.
- The school district has had major budget challenges in the past. If elected, how will you help OUSD get on the right fiscal track? What do you see as the biggest budgetary challenges in OUSD?
- The district faces a structural deficit which threatens the stability of the district and causes inconsistent delivery of a quality education for our students.
- As a CEO, I have to make hard decisions and live within my means. I’m ready to apply those skills as a leader of our district.
- What that means is asking for every investment of our scarce funds, what’s the connection to student learning? Not all dollars spent have the same return for our children. We need to look at the academic impact on each and every investment – or reduction – decision.
- I’m running against an opponent who lives in denial that we have fiscal concerns. We need reality-based budgeting. It will be hard but we will need to cut from the top for sure. We need to step back and leave nothing off the table.
- In Oakland, less than 25% of Black and Brown students are at grade level in reading and math. Are you aligned with our values of achieving equitable outcomes and access to high quality public schools? What will your approach be?
Crystal clear focus on student learning: What we talk about and measure, is what we focus on.
The number one priority is to move the conversation from everything else to student learning. Currently, less than 10% of school board meetings are spent on instruction, student wellbeing or achievement. Our children deserve for us to flip that paradigm. There are three board established committee’s: facility, budget and charter. Those primarily set the agendas. We must establish an Academic committee immediately to focus on three clear metrics which are connected to the Superintendent’s strategic plan:
- 3rd grade reading
- 8th grade math proficiency
- College / career readiness and graduation rates
- What is the role of charter schools in Oakland public education?
I believe the role of Charter schools in Oakland specifically has been to provide low-income families of color an alternative option to their under-resourced and under-staffed neighborhood district school. In Oakland, we have been failing families in the same communities for 30 years. Math and Literacy proficiency hasn’t increased, even as we learn more research based approaches to support all children. For all of history, white and affluent families in Oakland have the choice to go Private when their school doesn’t meet their threshold of an “acceptable” education, but why should only white/affluent families have that choice? In our city, I believe the role of Charter schools is to provide additional choice and opportunity for families that have been systemically failed by OUSD for generations.
- Do you believe all public school students should have equitable access to resources like facilities and funding? Why or why not?
Yes, of course. These are public school children we’re talking about. These children, mostly from low-income POC communities, deserve equitable access to resources in relationship to being provided an education.
VIDEO: "Number 1 priority is to bring a laser focus to student success."
Valerie Bachelor, District 6
My name is Valarie Bachelor, I’m a Latinx education union organizer and D6 resident. I’m a proud product of public education from elementary school to college and my family is full of educators. My partner is a high school chemistry teacher at Fremont High School in Oakland, my sister was a former adjunct faculty member at the University of Denver and my in-laws are full professors at University of Massachusetts Amherst and Rutgers. As an English Language Learner I know the importance of having caring, supportive and effective educators. I wouldn’t be here without the encouragement, love, and support of teachers and classified staff throughout my education. That’s why I believe that all children deserve high quality, public education from EC-TK through College. I’ve worked in the labor movement for over 15 years and through that work I’ve had the pleasure of empowering retail and fast food workers, child care and home care providers, and educators from EC-TK to College all over the country and right here in Oakland. I currently work for the California Federation of Teachers, a union of educators and classified professionals, and in that capacity I support public school educators every day with organizing, leadership development and strategic campaigns. I believe that educators’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions. So as I support, empower, and strategize with educators on how to fight for the resources, safe working conditions, and respect they deserve with an eye on how those things will positively affect students academic success. Over the last 15 years of working in labor I have also been an active member in my staff unions. I was a floor captain with OPEIU Local 2 when I worked for SEIU International in DC. Then when I moved to California I was first a site representative then the Western Region Vice President for the Union of Union Representatives while continuing to work for SEIU International. Most recently, I was the Secretary of the Field Representatives Union at CFT. I’ve always been an active union member and understand the power of collective action.
Sam Davis, District 1
Mike Hutchinson, District 5
Dr. Clifford Thompson, District 7
2022 FIA School Board Candidate Forum
Watch highlights and Lightning Round answers from School Board Candidates in Districts 2, 4 and 6 at the FIA School Board Candidate Forum on September 29, 2022 at Castlemont High School.