“Defense alone does not win justice.”
Data for Transformational Change in OUSD
By Enrique Valencia
Part of being able to push for demands in education organizing is knowing where exactly to push. Our campaign organizing committee has recently embarked on a survey of all Oakland schools to assess current family engagement practices and investments. Our goal is to be able to understand where OUSD is strong and where it can improve.
This survey effort known as the “Family Engagement Audit” is being led by parents, teachers, and community members and is engaging school principals and staff in conversations about their family engagement practices and investments. One of PLAN’s organizing committee members Mrs. Sandra Wilson from Elmhurst Community Preparatory Middle School, has enthusiastically visited 18 schools across Oakland to give and collect these surveys. She shared during an organizing committee meeting that she wanted to participate in this effort to understand what is going on in our schools.
The goal of collecting all of this data is to gain a deeper understanding of what practices are currently being implemented, and also to work with schools and the district to improve family engagement. The conversations we have been able to have with school staff have been meaningful. This survey is optional and schools can decide their level of participation. Given current budget shortfalls, schools need all the help they can get. We believe families are a key resource for schools. We also believe family engagement in Oakland can improve. We will produce a report in late spring of 2017 to highlight our findings. Please check back with us for more information.
This effort is part of our 100% Engaged for Student Success campaign, which seeks to increase resources for family engagement and shift practices around family engagement to ensure all of the schools in OUSD are fully prepared to engage with families, teachers, and students as equal partners for student success.
PLAN Parent Fellows Leading the Way
By Gómez Arteaga
PLAN provides many opportunities for parents of school age children to participate, learn, and develop their skill sets. The primary purpose is to build their skill-sets and experience to better help advocate and organize to improve their children’s education. One of these opportunities is PLAN’s stipended fellowships for parents. This year two PLAN parent leaders were selected to participate as Parent Fellows.
Talmera Richardson is a Bay Area native, and was selected as our Parent Fellow at Reach Academy in East Oakland. She is rooted in the legacy of her parents. Her father, Carroll T. Richardson was a long-time community leader involved in many civic activities. He was recognized by former Oakland Mayor Jean Quan for his years of fighting for community rights. He instilled in Talmera a strong sense of “human rights for all.” Talmera’s mother, Dorothy Jean Richardson, also had a deep impact in shaping her daughter. Rooted in these strong values set by her parents, Talmera has always been a natural born leader. She speaks out against injustices she sees daily.
She has been a PLAN member since 2015, and remembers one of the most impactful PLAN trainings she participated in a workshop on literacy and early learning for children. She recognized that reading to your child very early in life shapes their future educational success. For Talmera, “knowledge is power,” that is why she was so excited to help organize some of the first cultural exchanges at Reach Academy. The African & African American cultural event that she helped organize with PLAN, created a very important space for teachers to learn more about her culture. “The importance of these events goes a long way in deepening the relationships needed between parents, teachers, and school staff,” says Talmera. She stresses the need to build with a stronger community of parents and students that want to make positive changes at Reach. She believes that one of the most important issues is addressing bullying in all schools, and making sure that Restorative Justice practices are not just the job of one person but that all school staff should be trained. She states, “When you are a leader so much is required that is why we need to work together.”
Marina Muñoz is an immigrant native of Guerrero, Mexico, and was selected as our Parent Fellow at Madison Park Business & Art Academy (lower campus). Marina has children in OUSD, and is very active parent and community activist. You can often see her advocating for environmental justice and for a better quality of education for children of color in East Oakland. She first heard of PLAN when she was attending a Head Start Program meeting five years ago. A PLAN staff member approached her and asked her if she would be interested in learning more about how to help her children succeed in school. Since then she has been one of PLAN’s most dedicated and inspirational leaders. Marina states, “I think it is so important to participate and get involved in the schools – in School Site Councils, going to Board of Education meetings, and motivating other to get involved.”
As a Parent Fellow she feels that one of the biggest challenges facing schools is how they engage with parents, especially limited-english parents. Marina often talks about facing one of the most challenging things – making sure that parents continue to be motivated to participate in improving their children’s education. “Que se sientan motivados,” she states in spanish, “that they feel motivated,” Marina expresses the importance of just a simple greeting from school staff when parents visit school would go a long way in improving relations. This is why she is so invested in cultural exchanges like the Latin-American Cultural Event she helped PLAN organize and lead at Madison. By having Latino parents share cultural heritage via dances, foods, and history with school staff, Latino parents feel seen, heard, and that their culture matters. “Seeing the community get more involved with the schools helps everyone,” states Marina.
PLAN looks forward to offering more of these opportunities for parents. For more information and to get involved please contact us at 510-444-7526.
Third Annual Family Fest 2017
By Monica Scott-Green
PLAN’s signature Spring event East Oakland Family Fun and Learning Day, “ Family Fest” represents Oakland’s diversity— African American, Filipino, Korean, Latino, Native American, Nigerian and Vietnamese families all came together Saturday April 22.
“Very inclusive environment, seeing everyone coming together learning and being educated to make life better” are what participants consider the most important thing learned at “Family Fest.” Also important was “the opportunity to meet new people and the participation of all.” Family Fest had something for everyone.
Healing through Drumming, Yoga for Stress Reduction and Financial Literacy were the workshops most in demand and highly regarded. Those who attended the Educational Rights for Children with Disabilities and Empowering Pregnant Women expressed that those workshops were what they liked best about Family Fest.
“Relax, try more activities, participate in more neighborhood events, play more music, learn more drumming, develop a saving plan, continue my debt reduction strategy, say NO, practice yoga” are a few comments of what people will do because of Family Fest.
Fifty adults registered 70 children on-site, which probably means even more families were actually present. The
children attend 14 different schools primarily from East Oakland but also from North, West and Central Oakland, Piedmont, and even San Lorenzo. “Get the word out” was a recommendation from the evaluations.
Rich with community participation 30 businesses and individuals donated goods, services and dollars to support Family Fest thirty-seven prizes worth nearly $3,000 were distributed in drawings throughout the day.
“A lot of good resources,” refers to ten partnering organizations First Five’s Help Me Grow, Literacy Lab, OUSD GED Program, PLAN’s 100 % Engaged Campaign, Oakland Voices and Madison Park Academy Community School Partners all shared information with families.
Special tours were available in the Lifelong Dental Van, which also provided screening and cleaning, the Native American on-site Health Center enrolled new members and scheduled appointments, the Oakland Fire Department brought Fire Engine and hats.
Where is the Fun? The infant toddler room affords a safe space for little ones to crawl and explore, the reading zone provided the opportunity to chill and travel into a book, creativity exploded in the art section where there was t-shirt painting, jewelry making, pen decorating. Basketball and the 7 way jumper were the bomb! A few brave souls even ventured to the field for the Healthy Heart History Walk.
PLAN would love to thank the following event Sponsors & Donors:
Alameda Bicycle, Auto Repair Master, Canyon Swim School, Children’s Fairyland, Chris Dobbins, First 5 Alameda County, Funky Door Yoga, Grand Lake Theatre Oakland, Habitot Children’s Museum, Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, Home Depot, Le Mediterranean Restaurant, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Madison Park Business & Art Academy Lower & Middle Campuses, Museum of African Diaspora, Oakland Tire Pros, Pallen’s Martial Arts, Tactica Krav Maga Institute – Oakland, The Crucible, Trader Joe’s Oakland – Lakeshore, Trader Joe’s Oakland – Rockridge, World Centric, True Skool – DJ Vinyl Archaeologist & Sol Barreto Translation Services.
PLAN would like to thank the participating workshop presenters & community resource organizations:
Center for Healthy Schools – Robin Mormes, Health Care Services; DRUMMING Circle – Juan Cuba, Mental Health Educator; Cultura y Bienestar, La Clínica; Early Language and the Growing Brain – Kajal Shahali, Community Literacy Specialist, Tandem, Partners in Early Learning; Educational Rights – Eileen Crumm, Family Resource Navigators; Empowering families with Pregnant Women: KnowYour Rights – Maddy Oden, Tatia Oden French Memorial Foundation; Financial Literacy – Na’Dra Hennington and Diya Jackson, Trans America World Financial Group; Help Me Grow , First 5 Alameda County; 100 % Engaged Campaign, Bay Area PLAN;LifeLong Dental Care; Literacy Lab; Native American Health Center; OUSD Summer Pre-school; OUSD Adult Education GED Program & Oakland Voices.
East Bay Gives is almost here! The 24-hour-online giving blitz celebrating the generosity of the Bay Area will kick off May 4 at 12 AM. This year,PLAN hopes to reach our goal of $5000. Supporting us for East Bay Gives is simple and safe: visit www.EastBayGives.org on your laptop, desktop, or mobile device, select Bay Area PLAN, and make your donation. You can even pre-program your donation ahead of time by registering now. For live updates on our East Bay Gives progress, make sure to follow us online at amplifyPLAN on Facebook or @BayAreaPLAN on twitter. You can also spread the word on social media using #EastBayGives. Thank you for your generosity, and get ready to give!
We will be asking for additional donations to enter to win the a free tasting for 6 people at Peju Winery in Napa & hot tub gift certificates to Kabuki Hot Tubs in San Francisco. Draw tickets will sell 1 for $3 or 2 for $5.
Come relax, enjoy good music, and learn more about PLAN and our work with parents leaders in schools throughout the Bay Area.
PLAN will receive 20% of the night’s profit made (not including drinks) if 20 or more supporters dine-in with us.
Please call and make your reservations today and say you are dining in support of PLAN. Bissap Baobab Oakland, 510-817-4722.