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OUSD Board Director Dr. Thompson’s Inspirational Message to FIA Leaders

As an educator and advocate for over 23 years in Oakland, June is my favorite month. It is a time of celebrating accomplishments, rites of passage and of graduations.

This month we reached a major milestone at FIA – we have graduated over 350 parent and youth from our leadership institutes. We are also thrilled to be building teacher capacity for political leadership and have over 35 fellows. What a win for Oakland education to have the strength of so many powerful and invested leadership.

We were honored that Dr. Thompson, Oakland District 7 representative was able to join us and inspire our graduates with this message of civic power and strengths in unity. We thank Dr. Thompson for his service and invite you to enjoy his speech below.

In Community,

Kimi Kean
Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Families in Action for Quality Education

My name is Clifford Thompson. I am a proud resident of District 7, right here in East Oakland. I have been a teacher for many years. Then I went into administration and work at various levels of the system many years. While doing that I served as an adjunct professor for 16 years. Then I decided to take all of my experience and go back into the class and teach. That is what I have been doing for the past 5 years in Richmond. I am presently at King Elementary, which is composed of Black and Brown students.

I am so proud of the individuals who decided to commit to working and becoming leaders in our district. (Let’s give them rounding sound applause for their outstanding accomplishments.

All of these individuals have worked extremely hard, dedicated their time, and expended countless hours for 6 long weeks, yes all 50 of them fulfilling the requirements laid out by the FIA family leadership institute. Just to name a few things, they participated in community canvassing, which included having conversations with potential voters, talking about the importance of voting, and addressing educational issues. Additionally, we have 15 people (teacher political fellows who also completed the fellowship to further develop their advocacy. It is really exceptional when you have participants from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. I’m extra proud to stand here and say that there is representation from over 20 schools over the landscape of Oakland.

I am so pleased to hear that FIA has made it a priority to work on civic engagement. We need to make sure that we bring everyone together so that there is increased awareness of the process of voting, the impact, and the necessity of voting. This is especially true when it comes to the area of public education.

The work of FIA has not only led to registering new voters, but it has also helped pre-register hundreds of new youth voters. I am so grateful for your efforts. Thank you and I encourage you to keep up that fire until the elections in November this year, 2022.

As a sitting school board member, I see how critical these elected positions are when we make policy that gives direction to educational outcomes, deal with the fiscal solvency of the district, and evaluate the effectiveness of equity outcomes, while maintaining a focus on quality education. (l have to admit, sometimes I get pretty frustrated. Not that I know it all, but I know good teaching when I see it.)

So, I have a challenge for you today. Give some thought to actually running for the school board. That is an excellent way for you to contribute to good governance and help to shine the light on quality education for all students.

I would like to close with this:

  • Have you ever pulled a single piece of string? It probably broke pretty easily.
  • But if you braid a bunch of string together, it would almost be impossible to break it.
  • That is exactly what FIA is doing and what each of you has done
  • All of you have decided to come together as a whole, moving in the same direction, embracing the same outcome, and reaching for the same goal. Achieving what is best for all.

Thank you.

Go out there and be the change we need to see.

Text from Dr. Clif Thompson’s graduation address to Families in Action parent leaders, youth leaders and teacher fellows.

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